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Coach’s Corner: The strength behind the strength and conditioning program

By Chris Baldwin
Staff Writer

As with any collegiate athletic program, there are a multitude of staff members working behind the scenes to help the teams improve. Strength and conditioning plays a huge role in many sports. To ensure the College’s athletes are trained properly, the College hired Coach Addison Savela in 2012 to oversee all strength and conditioning programs for varsity athletics on a full-time basis.

Coach Savela grew up playing football, where he discovered his love for the weight room and strength training. 

“I wasn’t the most talented athlete growing up, but I was hardworking and the weight room helped me become a successful athlete,” Savela said.

He went on to play football at Springfield College where he was forced to end his playing career early due to an injury. However, he knew that he wanted to be a coach and physical educator, so he remained at Springfield to get his masters degree in strength and conditioning and work as a graduate student assistant in their weight room facility.

“Getting my masters in strength and conditioning allowed me to not only be a coach, but I could be the weight room coach,” he said. “This way, I could coach and train athletes the right way in the weight room.”

After achieving his masters degree in 2012, Savela immediately began reaching out to schools for a coaching job. One of his mentors had a connection with the College, which allowed him to get his foot in the door. He was then interviewed and hired as the College’s first full-time strength and conditioning coach. 

“This was a great opportunity for me and my family,” Savela said. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a head coach at a college looking to build a program for the first time.”

Savela has taken strides to improve the College’s facilities to more collegiate-style weight room (Photo Courtesy of TCNJ Athletics).

Working with all of the College’s varsity athletic teams, Coach Savela has a packed schedule almost every day. In a normal year, he is up at 4 a.m. to set up the weight room and get a workout in for himself before teams start pouring in for their strength training. The first teams of the day generally start their hour-long block of training at 6 a.m. with more groups showing up almost every hour until 5 p.m.

In addition to supervising workouts, Coach Savela also comes up with personalized training programs for each athletic team and individual athlete. At the beginning of each semester, he works to bring all of his athletes to a similar conditioning level and from there works with each athlete on sport-specific training regimens.

“I meet with all the coaches during the off-season to see what they want,” he said. “From there I establish a baseline to get all the athletes on the same level and then tailor training to every sport. I program specifically for the teams, and then I make individual adjustments for each athlete.”

Since Savela was hired, he has also taken strides to improve the College’s facilities to more collegiate-style weight room. Before he was hired, athletes generally worked out with overflow equipment from the old Student Center weight room, but Savela quickly began working to change this.

“The first thing we did was revamp our facility,” he said. “Since I’ve been here I’ve tried to make it more like a collegiate weight room so we can get the bigger teams in. We’ve adjusted the layout of the weight room and purchased equipment throughout the years so that we can train athletes safely and the right way.”

Although Coach Savela “might not show it all the time,” he truly loves his position and enjoys working to help athletes improve their game on a daily basis. 

“My goal every day is to make us better,” he said. “I wake up every day excited to go to work.  I think the best part about the job is the interaction with the athletes and being able to help them improve. Obviously we look at wins and losses as a main factor of athletic success, but I look at ‘are the athletes able to improve their playing time and improve throughout the years?’ With our school’s history of success, when these kids are going further into the post season every year, I think that is the best part about the job.”



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