Softball head coach Stacey Schramm knows that half the battle of being a successful team happens off the field.
She’s familiar with the importance of strength, conditioning and wellness training. Her team sees this too, Schramm said, and was quick to embrace the benefits of assistant strength and conditioning coach Brooke Robertson taking over its training this year.
“Right when I told [the team] that Brooke was going to be their new strength coach, they couldn’t have been happier,” Schramm said, adding that her team is already “more lean, more cut, they’re quicker, they’re stronger.”
GW’s 22 intercollegiate athletic teams find their secret weapons in the weight rooms, where assistant athletic director for strength and conditioning Ben Kenyon and Robertson put in long hours to create unique training regimens for each program.
Their positions are more important with new athletic director Patrick Nero’s focus on wellness and proper training. Adding nutritional resources for the student–athletes this year, Nero also hasn’t shied away from his desire to see GW’s athletics teams pushed harder away from competition than in the games. Kenyon and Robertson are key pieces to establishing those routines.
“I like when an athletic team is struggling as a whole, and then all of a sudden it clicks and they get it,” Robertson said. “It’s really rewarding to see that transition.”
Kenyon, too, is familiar with that reward. As the first person to hold his position at the University, he is no stranger to the athletic department, after having spent the past three years serving as the head strength and conditioning coach.
In his new role, Kenyon oversees the strength and conditioning programs for all varsity sports teams at the University, and also coaches the men’s basketball program and gymnastics program specifically.
“Each team finds ways to motivate differently,” Kenyon said. “Every team has different goals. Every team trains differently.”
As a junior studying sports management and playing basketball at Adelphi University, Kenyon helped to prepare his team in the preseason, discovering his passion for strength and conditioning training. After earning his bachelor’s degree, Kenyon came to GW for graduate school, serving as the graduate assistant in the strength and conditioning program.
His days start early and stretch for long hours. This preseason, he met with the men’s basketball team for conditioning three days a week at 5 a.m. Over the course of a typical work day, Kenyon said, he meets with coaches, trainers and nutritionists, working to research new ways to train and coach student-athletes.
“I’m excited every day. It’s a new challenge every day,” Kenyon said. “We do as much research as possible on how to train specific athletes.”
Robertson’s day-to-day work is slightly different in nature from Kenyon’s. In charge of all intercollegiate teams that compete on the Mount Vernon Campus, she schedules and administers workouts for the student-athletes.
“I usually have to turn the lights on in the building myself,” Robertson said. “I pretty much have team after team throughout the whole day, whether it’s a conditioning session or a strength training session.”
The athletics teams recognize the value of working with Kenyon and Robertson, and are excited by the transformation they see on the field from the coaching the two give away from the action. The coaches, too, are quick to identify benefits – Schramm pointed to increased core stability as just one of the improvements her team’s made while working with Robertson.
Crucial to Kenyon and Robertson’s work is an awareness of the different demands of the varied sports. For all teams they work with, both create workouts specific to different sports, and even specific positions.
“It’s more than just making them stronger and faster,” Robertson said. “It’s teaching them how to work, dedication and reliability.”