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The Bradsher Beat
Friday, August 18, 2006

By Bethany Bradsher

Wimps need not apply to School of Mike Golden


Every cliché is grounded in truth, but the traditional assessment of a team “bringing it to the next level” isn’t sufficient for Mike Golden to rate the 2006 Pirates during summer conditioning.

Mike Golden

Photo: ECU SID

This squad, he said, skipped the next level and moved right on to the one above that.

“It’s really gone up another two levels,” said Golden, who came to ECU in May 2005 from the University of South Carolina. “There are some things I thought we wouldn’t be able to do next summer that we were able to do this summer.”

Golden came to ECU with a clear vision of what he hoped to accomplish with the players, but when he assessed their overall physical fitness he realized that rushing his plan into reality would probably backfire. So he met the players where they were last season and implemented a program designed to prepare the young men for the challenges ahead.

In a modern day version of the Charles Atlas comic book advertisements of decades ago, those players’ testimonials could form the soundtrack for a late-night infomercial: Gain muscle and multiply your strength with the proven Mike Golden Method!

“My body fat percentage has gone down, I’ve put on more weight, my bench press went up 15 pounds and my squat went up 35 pounds,” said senior Patrick Dosh, slated to play fullback for the Pirates this season.

“He’s going to push you, when you think you can’t go anymore,” senior cornerback Kasey Ross said of Golden. “He’s not going to kill you, but he’ll get that extra little bit out of you, but at the same time he’s not going to hurt your body.”

“We’re probably, in my mind, the best conditioned team in Conference USA,” said sophomore linebacker Van Eskridge.

“To see the strength gains that they’ve made, they come back and they’re bigger, they’re stronger and they’re faster, is really impressive,” said head coach Skip Holtz.

Two weeks into preseason camp, the Pirates are just starting to test those confident statements against the reality of the upcoming season. But as July concluded and Golden turned the team back over to the rest of the coaching staff, he had every reason to believe that his share of the construction process had been completed with excellence.

“I understand that I’m just a spoke in the wheel,” said Golden, who is the only coach who works with the players from the end of spring training until camp begins in early August. “This spoke is in and we’re ready to go. They’ve given me every drop of sweat they can give me. I couldn’t ask them to give me any more than they’ve given, and we have high standards.”

The players that need to gain weight put on the pounds and muscle that will make them competitive across the line of scrimmage each week, Golden said, and they are starting to grasp how many calories they need to consume each day to keep up with the intensity of the summer workouts.

“In a perfect world, we would tell them exactly what to eat and when to eat, but I’m a realist, and I know that if these kids eat three meals a day we’re doing cartwheels,” he said.

With more than a year of acclimatization to Golden’s program under their belts, the Pirates have developed the kind of trust in their strength coach that allows them to trust him even through tortuous conditioning sessions in stifling heat. They have learned that they can submit to his workouts and get stronger without injuring themselves, Ross said.

“Back in the past we had strength and conditioning coaches who would load up the squat bar, and when you went up there to practice your groin hurt or you could hardly work out,” Ross said. “He knows this stuff, a lot of the things that he does make sense, and it doesn’t tear your body up.”

With the first kickoff just over two weeks away, the players are packing all of the other spokes into a wheel that, if everyone involved has put in their share, should roll stronger and farther than any Pirate Machine in years.

“That fourth quarter, coach always says is ours,” Ross said. “But this team, with the way we’ve worked this summer — first, second and third should be ours, too.”

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02/23/2007 01:13:13 AM

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