By: Will Cunningham
The Eastern University Athletic department has grown into a noteworthy program. It features over 300 student athletes competing on 19 different teams as full time members of the Middle Atlantic Conference. (A 20th team, football, will begin conference play next year.) Each of these sports requires different skill sets and methods of training. Soccer players need massive amounts of cardio endurance while basketball and volleyball favor players with higher vertical leaps and powerful arms.
In order to provide the necessary training effectively, Eastern has organized its own Strength and Conditioning team composed of highly experienced and knowledgeable professionals. Led by Brian Bingaman and Ross Weyandt, their mission is to “provide continuous development of the student athlete during and after their playing careers both athletically and personally,” as well as “provide a culture of accountability, respect, work ethic, commitment to self and team and service for others.”
Each member of the team has significant experience in this field that equips them for training our athletes. Weyandt and Bingaman, along with assistant Stefan Bergman, each have experience working with Division I programs. The staff also features former Eastern student athletes, such as assistant athletic trainer Bryan Mizell and intern Nate Portrey.
It should be noted that most Division III schools do not have an entire team for strength and conditioning. Most schools as small as Eastern typically have assistant coaches or one staff member running strength and conditioning for each sport. Here, not only do we have several staff members solely focused on strength and conditioning, but they each have experience training in different sports. “We are fortunate enough to have what I feel is the best strength staff in the conference and one of the best in D3,” Bingaman said.
I had the opportunity to watch them at work on a Wednesday morning a couple of weeks ago. I attended the football team’s morning lift as well as men’s basketball’s afternoon workouts at the new training facility at the Valley Forge Military Academy campus. Each team had different routines led by different members of the staff.
However, one thing was common in each team session: the strength and conditioning staff took full and commanding charge of the players and their workouts, while the coaches sat back, giving only motivational support and small tips here and there.
I asked football head coach Billy Crocker to speak about the strength and conditioning team, and he mentioned that it is “absolutely critical to our development.” “Bing is as good as there is. I’d put him up against anybody in terms of his knowledge. There’s a guy like Ross, who’s super intelligent and relates well with the guys. And then the rest of their whole staff you know Spencer and some of the other guys it’s crazy that you know things are going to get done in there,” Crocker said.
As for the players themselves, they too have a sense of appreciation for the team and how they train and prepare them for games.
“I think the strength and conditioning staff is great,” men’s basketball guard Davin Hernandez said. “They made a few new additions this year with not only the new weight room but with new staff members, and they really want us to get better every single day.”