Take note: the visit to the stadium I refer to below was back in April. Keep that in mind as you read. Where I’ve added information recently I’ve clearly marked it “Updated”. A couple of paragraphs regarding the “upcoming” Gala Dinner I deleted as they had become irrelevant.
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Several times over the winter months I dropped by the football complex beneath Alumni Stadium to see what was up? I obviously didn’t time things well [usually in the evening]. All I really learned was that freshman LB John Birnie watches a lot of film. So … I played it smart and arranged a meeting with new, full-time S&C Coach Jordan Foley. Here is the announcement of his hiring in case you missed the news a month ago.
The early afternoon timing must have been the charm. Not only did I get to talk with Foley but I had the opportunity to finally meet trainer Jessica Dalton, plus chat with coaches MacNeill, Galloway, Grandy and Lang. I followed all that up with a visit to Creelman Hall and a meeting in the evening at the W.F. Mitchell Athletic Centre.
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Back to my visit to the stadium … I can’t say that I can explain Foley’s background and philosophy as well as I could have Chris Mumford’s but this was just a first conversation and I talked with Mumford many more times. What I can say is I now understand the optimism for the S&C program that the coaches, players and parents I’ve spoken with already have. First off, Guelph is in the lucky situation of having a full-time Strength & Conditioning Coach devoted exclusively to football. Apparently the Department of Athletics has also added a new, full-time coach who works with other Varsity athletes.
Every OUA football team has an S&C coach. They just aren’t working with football players full-time. Either that or they’re coaching a position in addition to trying to do the S&C work. The Gryphons’ offseason training is now more structured, 100% supervised and has a much higher degree of accountability. Only a month into Foley’s tenure it’s early to make predictions but it will be interesting to watch as the S&C program evolves. I really can see this paying off for the Gryphons.
It was clear from our conversation that Foley appreciates how lucky Guelph is to have such a fine facility in the Performance Centre. He has moved a few pieces of equipment around and has a couple of other improvements planned but it sounds like 95% of what is needed for a very successful S&C program is already there.
Update: I’m hearing from coaches that the regular testing days each month or so are a thing of the past. With the greater accountability and 100% supervision Foley is able to provide coaches with near real-time feedback. If I understand things correctly formal testing will only need to be done twice per year. The days saved mean more time is spent on actual training.
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The training room isn’t looking quite as good, but that’s not a bad thing. The facility has doubled its size with a wall coming down and the old Gryphon lounge being eliminated. So right now there is a mish-mash of mis-matched flooring and carpet but that will be replaced by next week. Also coming in are some new massage tables. The ones currently there look like they were home-made, perhaps about 1990.
When I first ran into the football program’s new full-time trainer, Jessie Dalton, she was upstairs in the Performance Centre directing freshman OL Eric Denis through his exercises. I didn’t ask the question but I’m assuming it related to some sort of rehab he may be doing. Only speculation on my part, but that would explain why we haven’t seen or heard more of the most decorated O-lineman [OVFL All Star, Team O] in last year’s recruiting class. [Update: Denis had just received full clearance to return to training after an injury sustained in the Scout Team game last fall.]
Dalton is a grad of the Athletic Therapy program at Sheridan College and after working at Guelph on a couple of internship stints she has joined the football program full-time. Long-time Head Athletic Trainer Gunner Obrascovs will still be involved with the football program full-time during the season. The addition of Dalton ensures that football players have access to a trainer in the stadium all year round.