Friday, October 11, 2013

An Interview with Strength and Conditioning Coach Mark Spadavecchia

I interviewed Lancaster JetHawks Strength and Conditioning Coach Mark Spadavecchia earlier in the season on one of my trips out West. I wanted to know what exactly a S&C Coach does. Everyone has seen the coach carefully watching pre-game stretches and warm-ups, but there is a whole lot more to the job that the casual fan doesn't see.

2013 was Spadavecchia's first season with the JetHawks. He has an undergraduate degree in Exercise Sciences from Marquette and, after interning with the Milwaukee Brewers major league organization, he went to Florida State where he earned his Masters in Sports Science.

When I asked Mark about his role on the team, he enumerated some of his duties, "My job basically is to work them [the players] out in the weight room with sports specific exercises to maximize their on-field performance and to prevent injury, keep them muscularly balanced and [help them to] play at the highest level that they can, and keep them fresh for the entire season so when it comes to the late months, they're still feeling strong. I back off a little bit at the end.

"We hit the major list. The legs ... we do a lot of exercises, squats and lunges, exercises like that. Then we try to do two back exercises to every one chest exercise to keep them loose in the upper body, keep their back strong for throwing the ball so they don't pull anything. Also help out with the different exercises they do before they throw to keep those small muscles in the shoulder healthy, especially for the pitchers."

I had seen Spadavecchia working in the weight room with Brandon Meredith on a very specific protocol in response to a minor injury that Meredith had suffered so I asked Spadavecchia about his responsibilities in dealing with injuries. He told me, "I'll work with the Athletic Trainer, Grant [Hufford], and we'll work together to see what they injured and then progress them slowly to get them back to playing. We'll look at what caused the injury and what muscles we can strengthen and progressively involve so that it doesn't happen again."

Spadavecchia spoke of his other duties, "I lead the stretches. I take times to first during the game and take a record of those. [I] try to keep track of their nutrition habits and give them guidance." I asked him how difficult it is for the players to eat properly with the crazy day-to-day schedule, "It's tough, especially on the road, because a lot of times you've just got to roll with it. You can't always get the best food that you want, but [I try to help them] make the best decisions possible."

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Thank you for your time, Mark. It's always fun to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes!

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