For the last four years, Greg Nyhof and Taylor Smith have charged out onto Knight Newbrough field, ready to prove themselves after a long, grueling offseason.
This year, the newly appointed strength and conditioning coaches for Laurier’s Athletics & Recreation Department, will find themselves watching from the sidelines, rooting their team on. For Nyhof, it’s something that may take some getting used to.
“I think it’s easy for us to say no, not a big deal, but there is nothing that will replace that feeling.” He said.
After the conclusion of the 2015-16 season, the Golden Hawks former strength and conditioning coach, Alena Luciani, moved on from the position leaving the door open for Nyhof and Smith.
“As I got into my later years, strength and conditioning became the route I wanted to take. The opportunity was there and I was pretty thankful for that,” said Smith.
For Nyhof, it was his personal experience, training for the men’s football team that drove him towards the position.
“I think I developed an appreciation for the importance of strength and conditioning, what that did to my game and how much it meant to me,” he said.
As training camp starts to ramp up, Nyhof, a former standout wide-receiver, is still trying to find out the best way to connect with the younger athletes, attempting to put himself back in their shoes to help them build a strong foundation.
“I think the biggest challenge is trying to be able to relate. I keep thinking back to what was important to me when I was in my first year,” he said.
Smith believes that the strength training the athletes go through each year not only helps them physically, but is a large contributor to the mental aspect of the game. “If we can teach them to master the fundamentals, there is nothing you can’t do with a strong base,” said Smith.
“I think back to all of my years here and the biggest thing was mental toughness,” he said.
“Off the field, we need to push them really hard because, on the field, at 18 years old, these guys will come in and get hit in the face with a lot at once, which can be overwhelming.”
Nyhof believes that the role he and Smith have, is a great way to give back to a program and department that has given so much to them throughout their athletic careers.
“We are both extremely thankful for everything; not only football, but the athletics department as a whole … this is just our chance for us to leave our mark and give something back.”
The two whole-heartedly agree that the first game of the season is something they are both looking forward to, even if they won’t be bursting through the tunnel with their teammates.
“I think it would be harder to be in the stands and not be involved,” said Nyhof, “but because we are still so involved and we still have a stake in how they do, I think it will be easier to see some good work come to light.”