Building better Gaels

Queen’s new strength and conditioning coach is making a difference

Rodney Wilson became Queen’s first full-time strength and conditioning coach this year.
Rodney Wilson became Queen’s first full-time strength and conditioning coach this year.

If Queen’s athletes looked a little bigger on the fields and courts this year, Rodney Wilson deserves much of the credit. At the beginning of the season, the Gaels turned to him as the newly appointed strength and conditioning coach for help training outside game time to develop an edge.

Wilson, a Queen’s Phys. Ed. graduate, was a personal trainer and nutritionist at the now-defunct Fitness and Lifestyle Center in the PEC before he became involved in varsity athletics. Many people in the athletics department can already see the difference.

“Men’s soccer and men’s basketball were a few of the teams I started with because I knew the coaches,” Wilson said. “Queen’s Athletics and Recreation thought it would be great to have a full-time strength coach to work with all of the teams so they could have in-house services and wouldn’t have to go to different places. The coaches that I was working with really enjoyed what I was doing, so I took on the role with all of the teams.”

Wilson worked with his interns this year to create programs for different teams to follow based on the demands of their sports. His programs combine a hands-on approach with the creation of a regimen that can be followed independently.

“Our programs are designed to prevent injury, to teach them how to do strength training and conditioning properly and safely,” Wislon said. “Then on top of that we work on building strength and power specific to whatever the sport is. For most of the teams, we will have some practical time where they have some time with the coaches, me and with other interns. There also is a strength training program that we get the teams to do and very often that’s an independent workout.”

Wilson said his goals are largely focused on long-term gains for the athletes as they progress through their careers with Queen’s.

“We take first-year athletes and recruits and we assess them to see where their needs are physically,” Wilson said. “We begin to condition those first-year athletes with the expectation that over first year, into second, into third they’re going to develop over that time period. We train them for the four or five years they’re going to be here.” In Wilson’s eyes, the link between hard work in the gym and results in game scenarios are undeniable.

“It filters onto the field or court or ice by just creating strong, injury-free athletes who can get quicker, who can get stronger and who have more power.”

CIS First Team All-Canadian and OUA First Team All-Star defensive lineman Dee Sterling of the men’s football team attributed his increased strength on the field this year to Wilson’s work. Sterling recently tied for first in the bench press test at the CFL evaluation camp, hoisting 225 pounds 23 times.

“It’s made a huge difference,” Sterling said. “His knowledge that he brings to the table really helps you understand why you’re doing certain things and why you shouldn’t be doing other things. Just the experience and knowledge really helped out my ability to workout between games.”

Sterling said Wilson used in-game situations, such as training devices, to prepare the players.

“I think he has an interesting way to incorporate things,” Sterling said. “He tries to make it specific to things that we do on the field. He does different types of workouts that incorporate different ranges of motion.” Dave Wilson, head coach of the women’s basketball team, said having Wilson as a resource has given his team structure and support in the gym that couldn’t be provided before.

“We tried to get as much of this covered ourselves as we could, but we’re really not that knowledgeable so the time it took for us to put together programs and pull all this information together, it was just enormously time-consuming,” he said. “Rodney’s up to date with the latest trends in strength training and far more knowledgeable. For him to work out a program is considerably less time consuming and it’ll be easier for him than any of us.”

Football wide receiver Scott Valberg said although Wilson’s work with the Gaels has already produced results, the greatest gains are yet to come.

“I think Rodney’s full effects aren’t going to be seen in the next couple of years,” Valberg said. “When the younger guys coming up through the system get to third and fourth year, that’s when you’re going to see the full effect of Rodney’s program.”

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