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The Next Generation of Influential Strength Coaches, Part 1

This is Part 1 of a three-part series on the next generation of influential strength and conditioning coaches you don’t see all over the internet.  The complete list contains 30 coaches who are undoubtedly on their way to being the next generation.  This is a follow-up to my list of the most influential coaches you don’t hear about on the internet – http://ultimatestrengthandconditioning.com/16-of-the-most-influential-strength-conditioning-coaches-you-dont-hear-about-on-the-internet/

These are coaches who are in the trenches, getting it done every day.  Most of them write and speak at a lot of clinics, but if you’re only source of information is the internet, you may not be aware of how great these coaches are in the field.

Be sure to check back for Parts 2 & 3.

Aaron Hillman - University of Illinois Strength CoachAaron Hillmann – University of Illinois:  Aaron recently took over the football strength and conditioning job at the University of Illinois after spending one year as assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Michigan. He brings 20 years of strength and conditioning experience to Michigan, previously serving 10 years as the head strength and conditioning coach at Bowling Green University, overseeing all 18 sports at BGSU. Prior to his stint with the Falcons, Hillman served as an assistant strength coach at Notre Dame (1998-2001), Connecticut (1996-98), Cincinnati (1995-96) and Ball State (1992-95).

Hillmann also spent time as a strength and conditioning specialist for the Pittsburgh Steelers assisting in the supervision of their preseason strength and conditioning program.  He has turned down many jobs in the past, so his move to Illinois was a long awaited opportunity that seems to be an excellent fit.  Aaron regularly speaks at clinics and is constantly helping young strength coaches learn about what really goes on in a college weight room.

Tony Rolinski - Notre DameTony Rolinksi – University of Notre Dame:  Tony Rolinski, a veteran member of the University of Notre Dame strength and conditioning staff since 1998, was named Director of Strength and Conditioning for Olympic Sports in 2010. Rolinski is responsible for the development and implementation of the strength and conditioning programming for 25 Irish sports while continuing to have day-to-day oversight for the men’s basketball and hockey teams.  His athlete’s love his ability to balance intensity and caring, and his methods have paid off through years of winning.

Rolinski had served as the associate director prior to his promotion. Previous to that, he spent five years as the program’s strength and conditioning coordinator and three years as an assistant strength coach. He joined the Irish strength and conditioning staff following a one-year stint as the head strength and conditioning coach at Duquesne University during the 1997-98 school year, where he implemented and oversaw programs for 20 varsity sports.

Rolinski received his bachelor’s degree in health education with a minor in exercise science from Penn State in 1991. From 1994-96, while earning his master’s degree in exercise physiology at the University of Pittsburgh, he served as an intern on the Panther football staff where he assisted with all aspects of the strength and conditioning program. Following his stint at Pittsburgh, Rolinski was the head strength and conditioning coach at North Hills High School in Pittsburgh (1996-97).

Rolinski also has earned certifications from the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (SCCC) and National Strength and Conditioning Association (CSCS).

Mike Joseph - West Virginia UniversityMike Joseph – West Virginia University:  Mike is the director of strength and conditioning at West Virginia University.  He served for five years as the assistant strength coach at Notre Dame (2003-08), working with football and was responsible for the strength and conditioning programs for baseball, volleyball and softball.

At Notre Dame, he worked with the head strength and conditioning coach with football, assisted with workouts, testing, conditioning, speed and agility training and in-season and off-season training schedules on a daily basis. He was responsible for developing and training the quarterbacks, tight ends, linebackers, fullbacks and injured players. He also had the same responsibilities with the sports of baseball, volleyball and softball.

Prior to coming to Notre Dame, he spent two years as an assistant strength coach at Eastern Michigan (2001-03), served as a graduate assistant at WVU for two years (1999-2001), worked at Healthworks Fitness and Rehabilitation in Morgantown during the 2001 summer and was the strength and conditioning coach at Fairmont State (Aug. 1998 – May 1999).

He has served as a guest speaker and instructor at many camps and clinics, has been a classroom instructor and was the state director for the National Association of Speed and Explosion.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in biology at Fairmont State and received his master’s degree from West Virginia in physical education with an emphasis in sport movement and development.

Josh Stoner - MissouriJosh Stoner – University of Missouri:  In February 2007, Josh Stoner was named Director of Strength and Conditioning by The University of Missouri and Pat Ivey after serving the previous three years as the Associate Director.

As the Director of Strength and Conditioning, Stoner is responsible for the athletic development for football as well as being responsible for the throws portion of Missouri’s track & field team. Other duties include: internship program coordinator, Mizzou Performance Coaches Clinic Director, and managing website content.

Prior to his arrival at Missouri, Stoner was the Assistant Director of Strength & Conditioning at The University of Tulsa from March 2002 – May 2004 where he was responsible for assisting with the player development program for football as well as being responsible for Tulsa’s women’s basketball, men’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, track & field as well as cross country teams.

Stoner was a Graduate Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at The University of Southern Mississippi from January 2000 – December 2001. There Stoner assisted with the player development for football and men’s basketball as well as being responsible for women’s soccer, volleyball, and softball.

Stoner also spent one year as the Strength and Conditioning Coach at Centenary College of Louisiana where he was responsible for all of its athletic teams.

Stoner received his undergraduate degree in 1999 with a double major in applied science and health and exercise science from Centenary College of Louisiana and he completed his master’s in exercise science from Southern Mississippi in 2001. Stoner holds certifications from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association, as well as United States Weightlifting.

Mike Linn - UCLAMike Linn – UCLA: Mike Linn is in the third year of his second tenure as UCLA’s head athletic performance coach. Linn previously served as the Bruin head strength and conditioning coach from 1999-2002.

Linn is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength Coaches Association, as well as a Level One weightlifting coach. A national speaker in his field, he is also a published author in the field of human performance.

Linn rejoined the Bruin program in February of 2007 after serving as the Vice President of Performance for Velocity Sports Performance since 2006. While at Velocity Sports Performance, he worked to develop training programs for its 63 franchise locations and over 20,000 athletes nationwide. In addition, Linn supervised the training and professional development for a network of over 700 coaches. From 2005-2006, Linn served as the Director of the Velocity Sports Performance franchise in St. Louis, MO.

Linn’s collegiate experience includes a stint from 2002-2005 as the Director of Strength and Conditioning at St. Louis University.  Mike previously served as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at UCLA from 1999-2002.  Prior to becoming the head of the UCLA program in 1999, he worked with the Olympic sports teams as an assistant strength and conditioning coach from 1992-99.

Aaron Ausmus - USCAaron Ausmus – University of Southern Californa:  A one-time Trojan assistant who then headed up strength and conditioning programs at four universities, has returned to USC as its head strength and conditioning coach.  Ausmus was Tennessee’s director of strength and conditioning in 2009, where he oversaw all of the Volunteers’ teams.

He began his strength and conditioning coaching career at Tennessee, his alma mater, first as a graduate assistant for 2 seasons (1998-1999) and then as a part-time assistant the next season (2000).   He then became an assistant at USC for 3 seasons (2001-03).  After that, he was the head strength and conditioning coach at Idaho in 2004, where he supervised the strength, speed and conditioning programs for 16 men’s and women’s teams.  He spent the next 3 years (2005-07) as the head football strength and conditioning coach at Mississippi, then held a similar position at North Texas in 2008.

Heather Mason - TennesseeHeather Mason – University of Tennessee:  Heather Mason enters her 17th year in the strength and conditioning profession and her ninth year as the head strength and conditioning coach for the UT Women’s Athletics Department, responsible for the Lady Vol strength, speed and conditioning programs. Her promotion to assistant athletics director for strength & conditioning was announced in August 2008. In May 2009, Mason was named master strength and conditioning coach by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association, the highest honor given in the strength and conditioning profession

A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Mason also earned a master of education degree in sports administration from Xavier (Ohio) University in 1998. She is certified by the National Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association. The Wheelersburg, Ohio, native came to Tennessee after a five-year stint at the University of Notre Dame and two years at her alma mater, Cincinnati.  Mason is considered one of the most influential female strength coaches in the world, and has helped many young coaches start careers in the field.

Tim Wakeham - Michigan State UniversityTim Wakeham – Michigan State University:  Tim Wakeham is finishing his 22nd year as a strength and conditioning coach and his 14th as the Director of Strength and Conditioning for 15 Olympic sports at Michigan State University.  He is one of the best teachers and motivators in the field, using his exceptional knowledge of sports psychology and instructional skills to help Spartan athletes.

Tim came to Michigan State as their first full-time strength and conditioning coach for 17 Olympic sport teams. Since arriving, he has created a culture where people are inspired, pushed, and led until they are entrenched in the highest standards of confidence and toughness. His trainees are engaged because they like the high achieving, high believing atmosphere and, of course, the results.

Specific achievements over the last 14 years include: creating a state of the art training facility; developing a ‘Spartan Strength’ website; constructing nutrition education and ACL prevention programs; speaking at national conferences; and publishing three book chapters and 50 articles including two cover articles; along with eight sport-specific training videos. Wakeham has been committed to continually answering the questions: what’s new, what’s next, and how can his athletes get there first?

Specific highlights over the last 22 years include the earning of eight Championship rings; continued communication with hundreds of former athletes; great coaching experiences in the NFL and NHL; a light heavy weight knock out of UFC legend Chuck Liddell by one his wrestlers; and a one year stint at the U.S. Olympic Education Center working with the resident boxers.

Tim received his Master’s of Science in Sport and Exercise Science from the University of North Dakota in 1994. He obtained his Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Education from Northern Michigan University in 1989.

Aaron Wellman - MichiganAaron Wellman – University of Michigan:  Wellman came to Ann Arbor after spending two years at San Diego State and five years at Ball State with Brady Hoke.  He has 15 years of experience at the Division I collegiate level, including seven years in the Big Ten Conference.  Wellman began his career as a graduate assistant at Indiana University, where he earned his master’s degree in 1998. He spent three years as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Hoosiers and was primarily involved with the football, baseball and softball teams, as well as developing individual nutrition programs for student-athletes.

At Michigan State, Wellman was involved with all aspects of the strength and conditioning program for the football team, and assisted with men’s and women’s basketball and ice hockey.

A member of the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association, Wellman is a certified strength and conditioning specialist.  This season, he was part of one of the greatest turn-around efforts by a BCS team in recent history, and a lot of credit was given publicly to him for the improvements in strength and conditioning as well as the reduction in injuries.  His work ethic is legendary as he regularly arrives at work when most people are sleeping.  Wellman is unquestionably on the path to a long, influential career.

Malcolm Blacken - ColoradoMalcolm Blacken – University of Colorado:  Malcolm Blacken became CU’s director of speed-strength and conditioning January 2011.  He came to Colorado from the National Football League’s Washington Redskins, where he was the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the 2010 season, his second stint with the club.

He worked 15 years as a strength coach in the NFL, serving as the head strength and conditioning coach for the Detroit Lions for nine years (2001-09) which followed his first run as an assistant with the Redskins that covered five seasons (1996-2000).

Prior to joining the NFL ranks, he served as an assistant strength coach for the University of Virginia in 1995, which followed three years as the head strength coach at George Mason University from 1992-94.  At both Virginia and George Mason, he was responsible for all of each university’s varsity sports.  He began his coaching career at the University of South Carolina as an assistant strength and conditioning coach from 1990-91.

Blacken graduated from Virginia Tech in 1989 with a degree in Physical Education, while also earning a minor in Fine Arts and is also an accomplished artist.

3 Responses to The Next Generation of Influential Strength Coaches, Part 1

  1. John February 2, 2012 at 1:07 am #

    Great List but most are not really the next generation, I would put most of them as part of the best of the this generation. There are also a some great up and coming coaches at the high school and lower level college ranks right now that I think would qualify as more as the next generation.
    Always love the the stuff you guys put out. Keep the good info flowing

  2. John February 2, 2012 at 1:09 am #

    Not to brown nose, but Kielbaso, you should be on this list as well.

  3. kielbaso February 7, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    I appreciate the brown nose support John. Hahaha. We’d love hear more about the young guys you believe are the next generation. I think of those guys more in the “up & comer class” whereas this list is supposed to represent coaches who have been doing it for a while but aren’t quite at the “legendary” status of my last list. I feel that, before they’re done, all of these coaches will be thought of as legendary. There are more on the way, so stay tuned.

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