For University of Miami Strength and Conditioning coach Gus Felder, this off-season, the message is simple:
“You don’t have a testimony until you have a test, and we want to test them now.”
While to the Miami football players this daily message may seem simple, Felder’s mantra remains a focal point of this new staff’s off-season program. Head Coach Mark Richt has developed the idea, and new coach Gus Felder is hammering in the point to Miami’s players.
There will be no quitting in 2016.
“This game is 90% mental and 10% physical,” said Felder in an interview in late June. “Your body is going to follow your mind, and one thing that we don’t want to do, is we don’t want to quit anything that we start, in life.”
The issue Felder and Miami’s staff is attempting to fix, has been a source of complaints from Miami’s fan base under the Al Golden era. Whether it was in 2013 or 2014, Miami seemed to check out mentally after losses to FSU, and stumbled to the season’s finish line. The gap between contender and pretender was made evident by Mark Richt early on in his regime. Richt hired Gus Felder to Miami’s staff shortly after he was hired to help stop any signs of apathy.
When Felder was first hired as Miami’s strength and conditioning coach, many former players and fans were outraged. They were not infuriated over the hire; however, but rather over the removal of previous strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey.
Former players insisted Swasey was not the reason for Miami’s past failures, and while he had a good track record at the University, Richt felt wholesale changes for the majority of the staff were necessary.
Despite the discord between former players and Miami’s strength and conditioning program, after Swasey was fired, Felder made his presence known from the day he set foot on campus.
Every day on the practice field, Felder wears his passion around his neck. Felder wears a silver weight necklace, to show his athletes where his dedication lies; as a coach not a trainer.
“I dislike using the term trainer, no, I’m a strength coach,” Felder said. “The hardest, and most touching, and most loving coaches you are gonna get is with us in the weight room.”
With over seven months of training, Felder has made it Miami’s goal to improve on a daily basis. Each player sets their individual goals, and the staff works with the players to improve every practice. Whether it's through charts or documents, Miami’s new strength and conditioning staff document everything so that the players can reach their maximum potential and thrive. The Hurricanes have shown a new attitude in strength and conditioning this off-season, and are working towards new goals.
Felder has made it clear he will push players beyond their limits every day in the weight room, and although Miami has struggled down this stretch under previous regimes, he is pushing the Hurricanes forward.
“I don’t like bringing up last year, I don’t bring up anything in the past. We can’t walk into our future looking backwards,” Felder emphatically stated.