Constructed in 1982 and renovated in 2004, the Life Sports Center is frequently used by many students on Muhlenberg’s campus. Specifically, Muhlenberg’s 22 sports teams spend hours on end in the LSC training for their respective seasons.
Muhlenberg’s student-athletes are not only conditioned and practiced by their team’s coaches, but the College also has four strength and conditioning coaches that help athletes prepare for game days. The staff is headed by Director of Strength and Conditioning Darin Thomas, who is aided by Troy Moyer, Anna-Kate “Tattie” DePaolo and Deon Edwards.
Darin Thomas has been fully committed to Muhlenberg’s athletes for the past six years. During his 24 years of being a collegiate strength and conditioning coach, Thomas has learned about the various aspects that contributes to an athlete’s success. Prior to coming to Muhlenberg, Thomas graduated from State University of New York at Cortland with a master’s degree in physical education. After graduating, he took his knowledge to Windsor Central School in New York. He was an assistant football and Strength and Conditioning Coach. Thomas also worked at the University of Richmond for nine years as the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach and at the University of Notre Dame in the Physical Education Department for seven years.
Thomas believes that certain key factors contribute to an athlete’s success, among them: strength training, conditioning, nutrition, cardiovascular exercise, flexibility, weight management, endurance and injury prevention. An important aspect of Thomas’ job is to incorporate different workouts for each team, as every team needs to focus on specific muscle groups.
“It’s very important for the athletes to get individual attention,” said Thomas.
The advantage of having four coaches is that teams will get more one on one attention and teams are able to incorporate in more individualized programs.
“We have a great staff for Division III sports. I could not ask for anything more. I have the best job out of anyone on campus,” said Thomas.
Troy Moyer, one of the assistant coaches, graduated from Sacred Heart University with a bachelor’s in exercise science and a focus in strength and conditioning. Moyer took human physiology and nutrition classes, which were all tailored around how to work with the human body relating to sports. During this time shadowing different conditioning coaches, he learned all of the proper techniques and how to create a program in the weight room. Specifically, Moyer learned how to tailor the work outs to certain sports, so they will know what to focus on specifically.
“When we find out what team we are working with we do lots of research, so that we can know what movements they do and what body parts need to be focused on” said Moyer.
For example, tennis players will work more on exercises that consist of lateral movement, quick steps and arm strength. With all sports, the women have more flexibility, therefore working with the men on flexibility is crucial. On the other hand, women are more prone to ACL injuries, so they will work more on certain injury prevention techniques. “You hear more about ACL injuries today, than you ever did before” explained Moyer.
Experience of the athlete is taken into consideration as well when creating workouts. The coaches are careful and cognisant that some freshmen may not be as experienced with the exercises they are expected to complete in college athletics. This reduces them coming across a potential injury.
Moyer stressed the importance of utilizing the weight room and the strength and conditioning coaches. “Not many teams are going to win if they are not the most physically fit and in the best shape possible,” said Moyer. Moyer loves his position here at Muhlenberg and specifically appreciates the close relationships that he establishes with the athletes.“This job combines the two things I love the most, lacrosse and strength and conditioning,” explained Moyer.
Anna-Kate “Tattie” DePaolo is another staff member in the athletic Strength and Conditioning staff.. After graduating in 2014 from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania with an exercise science major, DePaolo found her place in Muhlenberg’s community where she has been working for the past four years.
“I enjoy meeting different student-athletes and being a part of their experience. Our Athletic Department and facilities are awesome to work in and I really appreciate how Darin allows me to do my own thing.”
The final member of the team is Deon Edwards. Graduating from the University of Coastal Carolina in 2015, Edwards utilizes his exercise and sports science major daily. Edwards played football in college for three years, so he combines his strength and conditioning skills along with his knowledge of football with the football team. Edwards has worked at Muhlenberg for the past 10 months. Although has not been here very long, Edwards does not hesitate in sharing the appreciation that he has for his job. “I couldn’t have asked for a better job right out of college. I have a great supervisor in Darin and I have great co-workers” said Edwards.
Something that is particularly interesting is how Muhlenberg’s Strength and Conditioning Coaches are not permitted to work with the athletes over the summer. Despite this, in their free time they will still research different exercises and create workouts for when the 22 varsity sports teams start up again. Director Darin Thomas discussed the six goals to success that are vital in Muhlenberg’s Strength and Conditioning program: 1) Decrease chance of injuries, 2) Making athletes stronger, 3) Improve movement skills, 4) Improving body composition, such as education and nutrition, 5) Improve confidence, 6) Improve game day performance.
The four Strength and Conditioning Coaches dedication to Muhlenberg’s athletes and community is sensational. As any coach and player would attest, their programs would not have achieve the success they do if not for the contributions of Troy Moyer and the three other members of the athletic training staff.