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Steel city tough.



The Making of a Strength Coach

Steubenville, Ohio
For other locations with similar names, please see: Steuben.


Steubenville is a city located along the Ohio River in Jefferson County, Ohio, in the United States.
, my home town, is a unique city in the Upper Ohio Valley that embodies all of the grit and hardhat hard·hat or hard-hat  
n.
1.
a. A lightweight protective helmet, usually of metal or reinforced plastic, worn by workers in industrial settings.

b. Informal A construction worker.

2.
 mentality of a classic steel metropolis.

With Pittsburgh, PA, only a 40-minute drive to the east and the hills of West Virginia West Virginia, E central state of the United States. It is bordered by Pennsylvania and Maryland (N), Virginia (E and S), and Kentucky and, across the Ohio R., Ohio (W). Facts and Figures


Area, 24,181 sq mi (62,629 sq km). Pop.
 rolled up along the opposite bank of the Ohio River Ohio River

Major river, eastern central U.S. Formed by the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, it flows northwest out of Pennsylvania, and west and southwest to form the state boundaries of Ohio–West Virginia, Ohio-Kentucky, Indiana-Kentucky, and
, the 'Ville is a true American breeding ground for steelhands, linebackers, and patriots who have never forgotten the Alamo Alamo

Eighteenth-century mission in San Antonio, Texas, site of a historic siege of a small group of Texans by a Mexican army (1836) during the Texas war for independence from Mexico.
 and Bostogne.

My grandpa, Gabriel ("Gabe"), lived by the credo, "Home, Work, Church," and those words still ring in my ear. Most of the other people in the 'Ville added sports to the list. True idolators of the Pittsburgh Steelers
    “Steelers” redirects here. For other uses, see Steelers (disambiguation).

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional American football team that is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
 and Cleveland Browns
    “Browns” redirects here. For other uses, see Browns (disambiguation).

The Cleveland Browns are a professional American football team based in Cleveland, Ohio.
, they lived for the crisp Sunday afternoon war at Pitt Stadium Pittsburgh Steelers/Pirates
    [
, waged both on the field and up in the stands, with no holds barred and no prisoners taken.

Grandpa was the father figure in our family. He had come over from Italy as a teenager and lived in Follansbee, WV, before crossing the Ohio River and settling in Steubenville. He was a glass factory worker for much of his young life and right up until his death at age 84, Grandpa Gabe was climbing 20-foot ladders and lifting sledge hammers, crowbars, cinder cin·der  
n.
1.
a. A burned or partly burned substance, such as coal, that is not reduced to ashes but is incapable of further combustion.

b. A partly charred substance that can burn further but without flame.
 blocks, steel fences, and shovels of coal for the furnace.

Stern, stubborn, and downright mean at times, he was a card-carrying advocate of tough love. I never realized how much I loved him or the powerful impact he had on my life until the last few years of his life. I miss him and think about him every day.

THE HARD WAY

It was in this setting that I grew up, got beat up at times, and learned that you have to earn respect every day in your life. And it was the weight-lifting sessions in the cellars, garages, and run-down "gyms" of the 'Ville that become the genesis of my passion for the strength game.

There never was anything fancy about it, no Hammer or Nautilus nautilus, in zoology
nautilus, cephalopod mollusk belonging to the sole surviving genus (Nautilus) of a subclass that flourished 200 million years ago, known as the nautiloids.
 machines. There were no machines at all, nor anything that could be considered conventional equipment.

Much of what we used was made in the mills (illegally), and we were never sure of the correct weight of anything. If it was "bigger," we assumed it was heavier. We were always flirting with disaster, especially with our squats, bench presses, and standing military presses.

We never heard of the principle of "Function dictates design." Our battlecry was "Keep using it until it breaks."

With floor space at a premium, we used an abundance of overhead or hanging devices that we bolted or nailed to the walls. Steel bars of varying sizes, shapes, weights, and angles were easily obtained. Hence, the preponderance of chin, dip, and isometric isometric /iso·met·ric/ (-met´rik) maintaining, or pertaining to, the same measure of length; of equal dimensions.

i·so·met·ric
adj.
1.
 gizmos. Isos were a big deal in the '60s.

Seldom was the word "health" ever heard. We lifted for other reasons - to be stronger, bigger, and have "the look." The thought of health benefits never crossed our minds. Some guys actually smoked cigarettes and drank beer while they lifted.

Most of what we did was based on hearsay hearsay: see evidence. . Whatever we read in the muscle magazines and everything we saw the older guys "up on the hill" doing, we attacked with blind faith or, occasionally, with sheer stupidity.

Most of our workouts were Neanderthal versions of high-intensity training, with a variety of "who-can-do-the-most-reps" contests (heavily wagered on) going on all the time.

Those were good days. Life may not have always been beautiful, but we worked through the hard times. Lifting was the one thing we did, if for no other reason than to let off steam.

Most of us dabbled dab·ble  
v. dab·bled, dab·bling, dab·bles

v.tr.
To splash or spatter with or as if with a liquid: "The moon hung over the harbor dabbling the waves with gold" 
 in one sport or another. Steubenville - the entire Valley, for that matter - was deeply addicted to high school sports.

As in most steel towns, football was king. Weight-training and football always enjoyed a royal marriage, and the coaches in the Valley never bought into the mythology that weight-lifting causes the loss of flexibility, athleticism, and speed.

They wanted strong, kick-butt football players, and they believed that weight-training was the way to grow them.

Steubenville never had to prove its toughness. It remains one of the few communities left in the world that have more playing fields than parking lots, and the fields are in constant use.

When we couldn't find an empty field, we would either challenge the winners of the current match, or set up shop on the median strip of Route 7. It was long enough - about 60 miles - but only about 30 yards wide. Things could become interesting when you got knocked out of bounds and had to dodge the oncoming traffic.

Naturally, the Ohio Highway Patrol highway patrol
n.
A state law enforcement organization whose police officers patrol the public highways.
 wasn't fond of our little scrimmages and they would stop to make us aware of that fact. Undaunted and foolish, we would hide in the high grass along the river until they were out of sight and then tee the ball up again.

ST. PETER AT THE GATE

Heading into the sixth grade at St. Peter's St. Peter's or similar terms may mean:

Places
  • St. Peter's, County Dublin, Republic of Ireland
  • St Peter's, Guernsey
  • St Peter's, Kent, United Kingdom
  • St Peters, Leicester, Leicestershire, a suburb of Leicester, England
 Elementary School elementary school: see school. , I decided to give organized, "full metal jacket Noun 1. full metal jacket - a lead bullet that is covered with a jacket of a harder metal (usually copper)
bullet, slug - a projectile that is fired from a gun
" football a try. When I reported to the locker room, a coach took one look at me, stuck a bucket and some towels into my face, and gave me some tips on how to become a good water boy. I told him I'd rather be a good football player.

I knew how much I was going to like football the first time I drove my shoulder pads This article is about football protective equipment. For shoulder pads in fashion, see Shoulder pads (fashion).
Shoulder pads are a piece of protective equipment used in American and Canadian football.
 under an opponent's chin and knocked him on his back. My helmet did three revolutions around my head.

The reaction of the players and coaches to that hit remains etched in my memory. I ended up starting at nose tackle - all 105 pounds of me.

My first desire to train with weights was actually stimulated by an article on the Minnesota Vikings' fullback, Bill Brown. Bill was a large, unrelenting runner and blocker with a propensity for charging the line of scrimmage line of scrimmage
n. pl. lines of scrimmage Football
Either of two imaginary lines extending across the field parallel to the goal line at the ends of the ball as it rests prior to being snapped and at which each team lines up for
 - with or without the football.

Bill attributed his power and durability to weight-training. That was all I needed to know. Weight-training became a passion for me at Catholic Central H.S. in the late '60s. I weighed a buck eighty-five as a senior guard/linebacker and was honored to be named defensive player of the year and most valuable player.

Over the summer, I put on 25 pounds the good old-fashioned way - bloodletting bloodletting, also called bleeding, practice of drawing blood from the body in the treatment of disease. General bloodletting consists of the abstraction of blood by incision into an artery (arteriotomy) or vein (venesection, or phlebotomy).  strength workouts and a ton of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

THE AKRON ADVENTURE

I was now ready to "walk on" at the U. of Akron. My only hope for making the team was to impress the coaching staff as a hitter. Actually, it was the only natural ability I possessed. As a scout-team player, I zeroed in on all the stars as often as I could, throwing everything I had at them.

That upset some of the people, but I wasn't overly concerned about hurt feelings. I understood that if something good didn't happen to me, it would be back to the blast furnace blast furnace, structure used chiefly in smelting. The principle involved in this means of extracting metals is that of the reduction of the ores by the action of carbon monoxide, i.e., the removal of oxygen from the metal oxide in order to obtain the metal.  as a cinder-snapper in Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel is a steel manufacturer based in Wheeling, West Virginia, which is located at the edge of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. In December 1968, Pittsburgh Steel Company was merged into Wheeling Steel Corporation to form the current company. . That had been my summer job in 1970 - the one my grandpa insisted that I keep.

Paul "Chooch" Coppa, a Fighting Crusader teammate of mine, walked on with me. We rented a room at the YMCA YMCA
 in full Young Men's Christian Association

Nonsectarian, nonpolitical Christian lay movement that aims to develop high standards of Christian character among its members.
 daily rate, as we weren't sure whether our collegiate career would last four years or four days.

As it turned out, I earned both a starting position at offensive guard and a full athletic scholarship An athletic scholarship is a form of scholarship to attend a college or university awarded to an individual based predominantly on their ability to play in a sport. They are common in the United States, but in many countries they are rare or non-existent.  in the spring of my freshman year. Chooch earned his scholarship and starting position at offensive center shortly thereafter. Mission accomplished.

Weight-training played a big role in my career as a college player. I was the smallest guy on the offensive line at 212 pounds, but I was also one of the few who lifted on a regular basis.

It was a tremendous help. Even in those days (1970-73), we were competing against 250-270 pound defensive linemen - and, remember, this was "college-division football." There were no Division lA, 1AA, etc., classifications at that time. You were either big time or no time.

PAYBACK TIME

Upon graduating from the U of A, I was fortunate to land a high school teaching and coaching job at United Local School in Hanoverton, OH. Reno Saccoccia, another CCHS CCHS Cleveland Clinic Health System
CCHS Canadian Community Health Survey
CCHS Central Catholic High School (Canton, Ohio)
CCHS Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome
CCHS Catholic Central High School
 Fighting Crusader and Akron Zip, was responsible for getting me the job. He would also become my brother-in-law several years later when I married his beautiful sister, Marianne.

Reno is the quintessential Steubenville native - thick-skinned, tough, straightforward. He is currently the head football coach and athletic director Athletic director (commonly, "athletics director") is a position at many American colleges and universities, as well as in larger high schools and middle schools, which oversees the work of the coaches and related staff involved in intercollegiate or interscholastic athletic  at Steubenville H.S. and is one of the winningest coaches in state history.

He has taught me a lot about football, life, and dealing with adversity, and I'm still learning from him.

After one year at United, I returned to Steubenville Catholic Central H.S. as an assistant coach in football, wrestling, and track. Since I was the "Phys Ed phys ed  
n. Informal
Physical education.
" guy, I also became the strength coach.

Steubenville lives for high school football. People start talking about the next game as soon as the one they've just watched is over. In the cold of winter, they argue about it in the coffee shops. In the heat of early summer, they make predictions over the suds in the local pub.

The stadiums in the Valley are jam-packed on Friday and Saturday nights, regardless of who is playing. With the smoke stacks billowing bil·low  
n.
1. A large wave or swell of water.

2. A great swell, surge, or undulating mass, as of smoke or sound.

v. bil·lowed, bil·low·ing, bil·lows

v.intr.
1.
 in the background of the concrete and steel arenas, you can watch and hear some of the hardest-hitting high school football in the land.

On a frigid evening in late fall, 10,000 of the most vocal and partisan fans in the world will overflow Harding Stadium for the annual confrontation between the Blue and Gold of Central Catholic and the Red and Black of Steubenville H.S.

It is one of the oldest and most intense high school rivalries in football. And though the kids have played Little League together, competed against one another in junior high, freshman, and junior varsity junior varsity
n. Abbr. JV
A high-school or college team that competes in interschool sports on the level below varsity.

Noun 1.
 competition, and sometimes even live next door to one another, the sound of their hitting will shake down the thunder from the frozen sky.

I played in two of those games and coached in eight others, and I can vividly recall the colors, sights, and sounds of every one of them.

My eight years at CCHS proved to be a great learning experience. I learned how to deal with every critical situation in the teenager's tumultuous years - from pimples, to family problems, to boyfriend/girlfriend crises, to SAT tests, to preparing for the city-championship game.

It's a tough duty and I have the utmost respect and admiration for high school teachers and coaches - and I've been fortunate to have worked with some of the best.

It was tough leaving good guys like my coach, Rich Wilinski, and my staff buddy, Gregg Bahen, a tough ex-Marine who lifted with me frequently, including the morning of my wedding day! He became the head coach several years later and celebrated by winning the state championship.

But after eight years of giving back to my high school and high school football I realized that it was time to move on with my life and my career. Ohio State University Ohio State University, main campus at Columbus; land-grant and state supported; coeducational; chartered 1870, opened 1873 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, renamed 1878. There are also campuses at Lima, Mansfield, Marion, and Newark.  was offering a graduate assistant program in strength and conditioning and I decided to give it a shot - to get my master's degree and work at the collegiate level.

It was 1984 and the Buckeyes had a superlative team. They enjoyed working at football, and I enjoyed working with them. Somehow I managed to complete 52 quarter hours of course work, train the football team, serve an internship at nearby Dublin H.S., and average four or five hours of sleep. Marianne, the total team player, worked full-time to pay the rent and put food on the table.

In 1985, master's degree in hand, I applied for the strength coaching position at The University of Toledo National recognition
In its 125-year history UT has garnered several national accolades. The University’s programs, faculty and facilities have been highlighted in the media, including
. I would become the first full-time strength coach in the Mid American Conference.

I would spend nine years at Toledo and work for three outstanding head football coaches. For four of those years, we operated out of an 800-square foot weight room located in the east tower of the Glass Bowl Stadium.

The room had very little equipment, cracked walls and ceilings (whose plaster and paint peelings peelings
Noun, pl

strips of skin or rind that have been peeled off: potato peelings

peelings nplpelures fpl, épluchures fpl
 occasionally fell on the players' heads while they were lifting), and was overrun with chipmunks and field mice.

When the stadium was renovated as part of a new football complex, I found myself the guardian of a magnificent 3,500-square foot weight room replete with $25,000 worth of new equipment. Toledo won a share of the MAC title in 1990 under Nick Saban and went on to become the winningest MAC team of the '90s.

ENTER SPARTAN PRIDE

After winning the MAC championship in 1990, Nick Saban left Toledo to become the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, where he developed the NFL's stingiest defense. Four years later he accepted the head coaching job at Michigan State. That's when he called me up and gave me the offer I couldn't refuse.

I now have the greatest job in the world, at least in my mind. We recently moved into a 9,000-square foot weight room and have purchased nearly a quarter of a million dollars worth of new equipment over the past three years.

I consider myself very fortunate to be doing what I want to do in the way I feel it should be done.

The great thing about being a strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate level is that you get to see the kids nearly every day, but it's not just the workouts that makes the job so special. It's the influence you can have on the more important areas of their lives.

To all the young coaches who read these lines, I'd like to offer several helpful suggestions:

Words to the Wise

1. Develop a true love for what you do.

2. Develop a true love for the kids you coach.

3. Always remember that these kids need and want discipline and structure, even though they won't always admit it.

4. Learn, learn some more, and always realize that there's always something more to learn.

5. Be willing to pay your dues - be a "grunt" for a while - as it is the only way you can appreciate the importance of this profession.

6. Whenever you start feeling overworked:, underpaid and burned out, take some time off and see whether it makes a difference. If it doesn't look for some ether kind of work.

And always remember: There are a million qualified tough, caring guys out there dying to work hard for a good cause - helping youngsters become better athletes and better people.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Scholastic, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:personal narrative of a strength and conditioning coach
Author:Mannie, Ken
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Date:Feb 1, 1999
Words:2477
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