WINONA LAKE – Staying at home for both personal and professional reasons has made creativity the new norm for thousands. But how does someone who works directly in physical contact with others maintain a work relationship when their job literally has them hands-on with their work partners?
Nathan Wadley is the strength and conditioning coach for Grace College. He began working for the college last year as a full-time asset to Grace’s entire compliment of athletes, helping build them from the ground up in a way Grace hadn’t had in its capacity.
When students were sent home in March for the remainder of the spring term, Wadley’s job became significantly more difficult and refined. In a question and answer segment, Wadley offers how his role has changed and how he’s continuing to help Grace’s athletic programs in a truly uncertain time.
With everyone gone from campus, where does work have you at these days?
With everything shut down right now, work has me pretty much the same place as everyone else: finding ways to be effective at home. This has definitely been a challenge for me since I’m used to seeing around 120-130 athletes a week. I’ve done my best to be creative during this time, though, both in the workouts I send the athletes as well as ways I can still make
an impact when they’re not on campus.
The biggest project I’ve had is developing the summer workout programs for the athletes that they’ll have to complete for the months of May-August. I want to give them every bit of information that I feel would help them, so I’ve created a 25-page packet that consists of nutrition information (with a few meal prep ideas and recipes), information on the importance of a quality night of sleep, as well as their four lifting and conditioning programs.
2) Given the job typically has you directly interacting with athletes, aside from the obvious, what challenges are you finding in continuing to work with athletes? Is there a happy medium right now or is it ever-changing?
The biggest challenge, aside from the lack of face-to-face interaction, is finding ways to create an effective workout without much, if any, equipment. When we’re in a state-of-the-art facility like OPS, you don’t give equipment a second thought because we have everything we could ever want at our disposal. Now, we’re all at home and we have to find ways to still make things tough. When you have the high-caliber athletes that we have, that presents a bigger challenge than one might think.
3) Being a trainer is, borrowing from Yogi, 90 percent physical and 90 percent mental. How have you been keeping athletes mentally focused, (if you’ve continued working with them)?
Unfortunately I’ve not been able to continue working with the athletes, but when I have emailed them their workout programs or been in on team meetings on Zoom or Google hangout, I have preached the same message to every team. As far as I’m concerned, next year has already started and the exciting challenge about that is that we’re going to find out which teams in our conference took advantage of this time off or who used it as an excuse to take their foot off the gas.
4) At small colleges, most everyone has a title and does 20 other things. What all were you involved with at Grace last year, and what did you find the most interest in?
I only wear one hat at Grace and that’s the strength and conditioning coach hat. I’m very thankful for that, though, as it keeps me plenty busy.
Getting to watch those coaches and athletes compete is the best part of my job. I love coaching in the weight room and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but when I get to watch all the hard work that those coaches and athletes put in come to fruition on the court, field or track, it’s a blast. I’m so blessed to be even a small part of what goes in to each team’s success.
5) How has OPS looked to the future assuming we all get back to normal in the summer and into the fall? Do you see any of your role being affected semi-permanently from what’s happened in the past month?
I don’t see my role being affected at this point in time. My boss at OPS, Dr. Jason Russell, has been incredible throughout all the uncertainty and has done everything in his power to make sure OPS, as well as me personally, are in the best position moving forward. The nice thing has been getting to speak to him regularly and brainstorm ideas for our middle school and
high school athletes. We’ve talked about offering camps dedicated to improving an athlete’s speed or vertical jump.
One of the things my grandpa, who coached college and high school basketball for 50 years, always told me growing up was to “control what you can control”. That’s my focus right now. I want to help these athletes get to where they want to be, even if I can’t physically be around them to do it.