HANOVER – As Dartmouth College football prepares to face Valparaiso on Saturday and the stress of a new season increases for some of the coaches, that pressure eases for Spencer Brown.
As Dartmouth’s Director of Strength and Conditioning, the season is the least hectic time of the year for Brown. He’s busy, of course, doing various tasks during training, like yelling and walking away. But the start of training puts his work with the players throughout the offseason in full view of his colleagues.
“It’s the other three quarters of the year that you are the one who runs everything in terms of culture, what coaches want to see and want to have from their players, and work on overall player development,” said Brown. . âWhile in season, we are already there. There is nothing more you can do at this point. Coaches will take it from there.
Saturday’s match in Valparaiso will start at 2 p.m. It’s Big Green’s first game day in nearly two years.
Much has changed for Dartmouth since the end of the 2019 season, when he won a share of the Ivy League title, his record 19th crown. The Big Green will employ many players with little to no college playing experience.
Missing a full season can dramatically change a schedule, but in some ways things have stayed the same. The coaching staff is mostly the same group from 2019 – only one position group, the nickel backs, has a new coach (Ahmaad Smith).
Brown was an important link in maintaining continuity between the Living List and the Coaches during the long period of separation. Head coach Buddy Teevens said given the time Brown spends with players in the offseason, he has more interaction with the roster than anyone on the coaching staff.
Teevens described Brown as an invaluable member of the team.
âOur philosophies and beliefs in terms of player development are the same. He is inspiring; it is motivating. He’s a high energy, high intensity guy who gets along well with the players. And they trust him. They believe in him, âTeevens said. “I really believe we are developing our players as well or better than anyone else in our league, and it’s all down to Spence.”
Brown has been at Dartmouth since 2014 and was promoted to his current role in 2016. He works with football in the fall, men’s and women’s Nordic skiing in the winter, and men’s and women’s tennis in the spring.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the absence of the 2020 season have turned Brown’s operation upside down. In the early days of the lockdown, he worked with athletes on bodyweight training programs that would be beneficial regardless of the sport. He then tailored the player-by-player workouts to suit the equipment each athlete could access, whether that was continuing regular workouts in a home gym, doing pull-ups on a tree, or using a heavy backpack as a weight.
He didn’t find it difficult to keep student-athletes engaged while being separate from their teams and virtual. Brown and his team took an optimistic approach, focusing on what they could do instead of what they couldn’t. He said that kind of proactive attitude is just part of being a strength trainer and something he’s proud of.
And with all the time Brown spends with players between off-season training, in-season strength training, and participating in every practice, he builds a relationship with them. This too has been made more difficult by the pandemic.
Brown was unable to start meeting with players and parents during the recruiting process, as he usually does. And for the subclasses already in the program, he had worked with them for a long time before he could even see their faces in person.
But Brown still relishes that part of the job. He said the ability to read people is part of being a strength trainer, and taking the time to get to know people when he gets the chance – like during a rest between sets – goes a long way. path.
âWhen you try to build a relationship a few feet away from each other, it’s very difficult. But when they know you have their best interests (in mind), I think it’s easy to build that relationship, âBrown said. âWhen you teach them the right technique, you show them that you care. You show them that you are there to help them.
The players also like Brown. Fifth-year safety Niko Mermigas said Brown was like a father figure to some of the squad.
âFor a lot of guys, we’re a long way from home,â Mermigas said. âHe’s someone older who gives us a lot of advice about school and other things that are happening in our life. So he is definitely one of the most important people in many of our lives.
At the start of preseason camp in August, Teevens was pleasantly surprised by the conditioning of the team. He had high expectations and knows his players are engaged, but he said there is no way of knowing how much work they have put in on their own. He said the players’ fitness level exceeded these high expectations.
Brown’s work has paid particular dividends with freshmen. Teevens and his team don’t see much of these players, if at all, outside of the recruiting process before they arrive in Hanover. He said they had no idea what some of the freshmen looked like physically. But he said Brown had more than sufficiently prepared the new arrivals for camp.
“You can’t appreciate it, unless you’re in it, how hard it is to articulate, define, and clarify (the terms) from a Zoom call, and try to expand the strength and physical characteristics of someone and the value that they have for health, size and competitiveness, “Teevens said.” He was the guy who controlled everything. ”
Seth Tow can be contacted at [email protected]