NEWS, NOTES &
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
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
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
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
“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,
“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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