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The Bradsher Beat
Thursday, May 20, 2005

By Bethany Bradsher

'Borderline insane' tough guy ready for duty


If you’re an East Carolina athlete and you’ve ever even thought about whining, you should probably go ahead and transfer to another school.

Michael Golden
(Photo: ECU Media Relations)

Talk to Mike Golden for just a few minutes and you’ll discover he has a zero-tolerance policy against complainers. And since he’s the new boss of the Pirates’ strength and conditioning program, any wimps around the Murphy Center will either shape up or be weeded out.

“If you don’t want to work hard, get out now,” said Golden, who followed head football coach Skip Holtz to Greenville from the University of South Carolina. “If you’re going to be soft, you’re going to get crushed.”

Dave DeGuglielmo knows a little bit about the survival of the fittest on the football field. Now the offensive line coach for the New York Giants, DeGuglielmo worked with Golden at both the University of Connecticut and South Carolina. And if he ever has the opportunity to be a head coach himself, he knows just where he would turn for his first hire.

“I trust nobody more than I trust him with an athlete,” he said of Golden. “He makes kids want to lift. He pushes guys beyond what they think they can do.”

As DeGuglielmo tells it, Golden is a legend in the state of Connecticut. The high school strength program he directed before going to UConn, at Bloomfield High, was known for excellence in spite of being a small school. He also won a number of power lifting titles and served as an assistant coach for the USA Men’s Powerlifting Team. And with the Huskies, he helped Holtz lead the team to its first 10-win season and an NCAA Division I-AA playoff appearance in the fall of 1998.

One of the things that sets Golden apart, DeGuglielmo said, is his blend of physiological knowledge and macho toughness. With a degree in physical education and a background in athletic training, he understands how to help athletes avoid and recover from injuries, and his history as a power lifter gives him the kind of attitude that really motivates players in a physical game like football.

“He’s got a great mix of real scientific background, but also practical training in the power lifting world,” DeGuglielmo said. “And the professional power lifters, these men are borderline insane.”

Number one on Golden’s list of strength and conditioning values is old-fashioned hard work — the kind with no shortcuts. But he also believes in building mental toughness, by motivating athletes verbally and giving them the confidence that they can excel.

With nearly 15 years of experience at high schools and universities, Golden has worked with male and female athletes in all types of sports. And he has learned that each demands a different training approach; the more physical sports require more mental toughness building, and women need as much intensity as men but with a different approach.

“I believe in hard work, training smart, and just giving it everything they’ve got,” he said. “When they leave a workout I never want them saying they could have done more.”

Whereas some coaches in his profession come to strength and conditioning by the way of traditional coaching or playing sports, Golden knew he wanted to be a strength coach at the age of 15, when he read an article in a muscle magazine emphasizing the link between lifting weights and athletic performance.

Since then, he has learned everything he can that would make him better equipped to fine-tune the student-athletes that see him more than they see their own sport’s coaches. He’s not promising fun and games when the football players report on June 6, but he is hoping to organize a Strong Man Competition for later in the summer.

Golden and his wife Nicole have four daughters under the age of six: Natasha, Tatiana, Sophia and Anastasia. They are looking forward to immersing themselves in the East Carolina community that he has always heard about in coaching circles. And Golden appreciates the fact that the members of the Pirate Nation know the importance of his specialty.

“If you win a lot of games, you’re the greatest strength coach in the world,” he said. “If you lost a lot of games, you’re the worst strength coach in the world. There’s no in between.”

And he is looking forward to renewing his partnership with Holtz, who wants to replicate the success the two men had together in Connecticut by building a tough Pirate team that holds fast through four quarters of football. Support from the head coach is vital in his position, Golden said, and he has it.

“I know what he wants from me, and I know what I can get from him,” he said. “If you don’t have the head coach backing you, you can just hang it up.”

DeGuglielmo was part of Golden’s interview at Connecticut, he said, when Golden was coming from a successful high school program and the other two candidates were from Notre Dame and Clemson. One of those other men was Holtz’s brother-in-law, DeGuglielmo said, but still he hired Golden. Now he’s done so again, completing his Pirate coaching puzzle with a piece that could be a significant difference-maker.

“Gone are the days when the strength coach and the video guy are lumped together as guys that don’t matter,” DeGuglielmo said.

Townes sighting

DeGuglielmo, in his role as the New York Giants offensive line coach, has the occasion to see prospects reaching for the NFL dream. One of those he most recently observed was former ECU running back Marvin Townes. DeGuglielmo confirmed that Townes was working out with the Giants this week and noted that he saw Townes running there on Wednesday. Townes, who could not be reached, gained 235 rushing yards and 23 receiving yards during his senior season as a Pirate.

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02/23/2007 01:11:21 AM

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