Coach Takes Healthy Approach To Upcoming Season


Cecilia Levine , Managing Editor

Goal posts on either side of the snow-encrusted football field serve as a reminder that, despite the wintery weather, the 2014 football season will inevitably present itself. Until then, the Pace football program’s new head coach, Andrew Rondeau, has shifted the team’s focus from the physics of winning to winning physiques.

“Focusing on winning games will only serve as a distraction from what is within our control,” said Rondeau, who hasn’t been able to shake football from his bones since his childhood. “The team is focusing on getting stronger, faster, and leaner.”

As of late January, the Pace Football Team has embraced its coach’s new approach to the off season. The point-based system allows the eight, subdivided teams to earn points for themselves through a series of conditioning and weight lifting competitions.

The benefits of the program, namely greater team unity and weight loss, will ultimately translate to a stronger performance on the field. Rondeu has invited players to take ownership of their bodies and concentrate on achieving a lean body mass.

“Lean Body Mass is quite simply everything (muscle, blood, skin, bones, and organs) but your body fat,” said Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Michael Bohlander, whom Rondeau described as being a scientist of his field. “On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays the team has ‘Fit Club,’ a low-impact, cardiovascular workout that helps burn fat.”

Three times a week, athletes who are above the body fat norms for their specific positions wake up with the sun to participate in a 45-minute power-walk geared toward pushing their heart rates into the fat-burning zone. This low-impact workout allows the players’ hearts to work at about 70 percent of their maximum rate without putting stress on the players’ joints.

“We want to have people attain the lean body mass appropriate for their position,” Rondeau said. “They should be as lean, strong and quick as they can be.”

Players are also required to attend weight lifting sessions three times a week, which are scheduled in accordance with their academic schedules.

“We utilize Olympic training techniques to help increase power and explosiveness,” Bohlander said. “Our weight program is centered around ground based, multi-joint movements and focuses on improving our postural strength through core work and flexibility/range of motion to help reduce injuries.”

Tuesdays and Thursdays are the lighter days for the athletes, in which they focus on speed and agility training.

In addition to the new workout routines, Rondeau is dedicated to ensuring that the players’ diets are effective in keeping their metabolism on high alert throughout the day.

“We want to educate [the players] as to the right way to go about [weight loss],” Rondeau said. “In the past, players cut their nutritional intake to twice a day to try to achieve a certain weight.”

Infrequent eating has the opposite effect when attempting to shed excess weight. If the body is unsure of when the next meal is coming, then the metabolism will consequentially slow down. By eating six times a day, alternating between snacks and meals, the players will keep their metabolisms in motion. Food logs (to measure appropriate carbohydrate, fat, and protein intake) and biweekly weigh-ins help in tracking the team’s overall and individual progress.

Given the transition Pace’s football program is experiencing, there are inevitably mixed emotion among the players. Junior cellular biology major and offensive lineman Matt Digby divulged that many players turned to him for insight due to prior experience.

“I transferred in last year and noticed there were a lot of aspects that were undermined, or not emphasized enough,” Digby said. “This program is what we need; Coach Rondeau brings structure, which is what we were lacking.”

The early-morning, structured workouts help to kick-start the athletes’ metabolisms as well as foster unity and competition among team members. However, Digby feels that Fit Camp is more than just a means of a new workout; rather it is a healthier mindset.

“It’s a better approach to make us better overall athletes and will enhance our performance,” junior business major  and running back Blair Wynn said. “I think more people are buying in every week.”

“Fit Camp has given us a start to the day on the right foot, if you will,” Digby said. “We do things more competitively which brings out the competitive nature within players and will make us better, all-around athletes.”

Some Pace students feel that student-athletes should hold the importance of academics to the same caliber as that of athletics.

“When you’re on a team but your grades are below average, it makes it seem like you’re only here for the scholarship, and that you don’t care about the experience or the actual degree that you’re here to earn,” junior marketing major Maltha Romano said.

High concern for academia has proven to be an imperative characteristic of what contributes to well-rounded, college athletes.

“Some teachers give [athletes] the upper hand and will let them take a test early or miss class if they know that they have a game,” senior psychology major Ashley Boga said. “It’s not fair to the rest of us if they don’t take the class seriously.”

Pace does not stack scholarships, thus deeming athletic scholarships and academic grants mutually exclusive. Because many players receive academic subsidies as opposed to athletic scholarships, their investment to the athletic team could be jeopardized. Rondeau’s point-based system addresses both educational and academic integrity.

“The first week there were ways around some of the old systems,” Digby said. “For example, some players would swipe into mandatory study hall but nobody would make sure we actually stayed and did our work, so players would fool around or leave.”

Coach Rondeau periodically texts his players with motivational messages that encourage them to compete off the field, in all realms of life. He feels that in the overall scheme of things, consistency is key.

“American culture says ‘win’, but we really just want to get better,” Rondeau said. “We’ll be good when we’re good, but we have to keep on this path.”

Coach Rondeau’s players attest to his theory that consistency prevails.

“We are starting to see results,” Digby said. “I think that if we keep this up, we can count on at least a couple of wins.”

Rondeau hopes that Pace’s football program will soon contribute to the vibrancy and livelihood of the Pace campus.

Pace Football is making valiant efforts to “Strive For Excellence” by refusing to settle for mediocrity.