By RACHEL COOPER
As the athletic department at the University of Mary Washington undergoes changes in administrative and coaching staff, there are many new faces in Goolrick, Anderson, and the Battleground. One of the new members of the athletic faculty is not found on the field or court coaching or in an upstairs office organizing game schedules. Brett Longobucco, the new Director of Strength and Conditioning at UMW, can be found in the weight room in the basement of Goolrick working behind the scenes to train UMW athletes.
Longobucco has already begun training some of the fall sports teams and he is looking forward to working with other teams as they prepare to start their seasons and training.
“I think it was pretty evident right when I came here that they [UMW] put a lot of emphasis on the student-athlete experience and I think they give the student-athletes a ton of resources between staff and facilities and fields and pretty much everything you could want to be successful in your craft and your sport. As well as be successful as an individual and grow as a person” said Longobucco.
So what will change for athletes with the new strength and conditioning program under Longobucco?
“In terms of change, I just want to give student athletes consistency. I think that’s something that they deserve. I’ve heard that a lot, that they’ve gone through 3 or 4 people” said Longobucco.
Ashley Barrow, a member of the UMW women’s tennis team for five years and now the UMW women’s tennis assistant coach, said that she had six strength and conditioning coaches in her five years at UMW.
Kevin France, a senior on the UMW men’s baseball team has had three coaches over the last three years. Josh Duke, a sophomore on the UMW men’s swim team, switched trainers three times in his freshman year alone. There has been a lack of consistency in strength and conditioning coaches at UMW for many years.
“The toughest thing that I went through as a student-athlete was the amount of strength and conditioning coaches we went through in my 5 years. I know that it would be tough to change that but in my opinion that is the main thing that needs to change because it’s just so difficult for the student-athletes to adapt to all the different philosophies of each strength and conditioning coach” said Barrow.
“We had to start from square one 3 times last year since each coach had to figure out what we could handle” said Duke.
Having had so many strength and conditioning coaches over the years, France and Barrow had similar opinions about the programs that they both believe was of the most benefit to them and their teammates.
Barrow believes George Greene (the Director of Strength and Conditioning at UMW from 2014-2016) had a great program because he knew that each sport was different and that workouts and lifting needed to cater to the types of workouts that different athletes needed to make them better at their individual sport. And France liked Greene’s program for the way he taught their individual teams to use weights to improve strength.
“He wasn’t making every sport do the same lifting program. He knew what each athlete needed in order to make them stronger in their sport” said Barrow.
France also liked Jack Anderson (UMW Director of Strength and Conditioning 2017-2018) and his attention to their individual sports and how he stressed stability and flexibility for their teams.
Longobucco expressed the same ideas about a need for sport specific workouts when it comes to strength and conditioning.
“My philosophy is we’re training you guys to be whatever sport you play. We’re not training you to be weightlifters. We’re not training you to be powerlifters. We’re training you to be a tennis player or a soccer player… Everything we do down here needs to have a purpose when we take it to the field” said Longobucco.
“Baseball needs focus on mobility and joint stability, particularly for the upper body extremities. This purpose is specific strength, but also a ton of injury prevention” said France.
For swimming, strength and conditioning should be “to gain lean, not bulky muscles that give us more power in the pool. The purpose is to become a more efficient swimmer” said Duke.
Longobucco has ideas to create specific workouts for sports teams including some new equipment such as hurdles for rebound jumps and softer boxes to encourage explosive first movements. He would also like to incorporate Olympic lifting which takes more time to teach but it applicable to athletes no matter what their competition is.
On the other end, Longobucco has expectations for his athletes.
“I expect hard work. I expect punctuality. I expect accountability. And I expect them to hold me to the same standard that I’m holding them. So like I said I want whatever’s going on in their life, I know there are hundreds of other things on their mind as a student-athlete, but when we cross through these doors, I expect everybody to get to work and really block out whatever else is going on and really focus on how can we get our team closer to our goals” said Longobucco.
If there was anything else athletes could change about strength and conditioning at UMW?
“I think having an assessment during the first lift to see where everyone is at instead of teaching the whole team how to lift at the beginning of the season. Maybe let the upperclassmen have some freedom so we don’t have to move backwards from where we are while the freshman get a chance to learn” said Duke.
“A wider focus on lifestyle improvements and holistic (body and life) training would also be a great addition” and, “I think having more open hours at potentially late hours would be fantastic, however, I realize that the campus gym has those hours,” said France.
Best of luck to the UMW sports teams competing this fall and to Longobucco as he begins his position training UMW athletes.