CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- No college football coach is closer to the players than the strength coach. Under normal circumstances, he would be seeing them every day right about now. These are obviously far from normal circumstances.
"Everything is kind of making the best that you can in the situation. And I think that's exactly what we're doing," said Brian Hess, the strength coach at UNC-Chapel Hill. "We're trying to do the best in the country, with the setting we have and pushing as hard as we can."
Hess is in his second year as UNC's muscle man. This is a challenge he never could have anticipated, strength-training football players quarantined all across the country. They're making do. Every day at 3 p.m., they meet via phone or laptop.
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"Having scheduled lift times even though they are voluntary gives those guys you know who would struggle to get it going on the road a little bit more structure, and that's helped with them," Hess said. "My biggest concern is that we're just not utilizing our equipment, you've got an incredible weight room here, incredible resources."
All workouts are voluntary at this time of the year, but Hess says the Heels have full attendance at their video-conference lift sessions.
"We have a, I think, a very unique team, where they're incredibly motivated," he said. "When three o'clock hits, I mute everybody, I blow my whistle, I tell everyone to 'grit it up' just like I would if they were here, and then I start the warm up and I put it on a cadence and every set is on a whistle, every coach every set."
Only about 25 percent of the players currently have access to any weight so some ingenuity is required.
"Get a backpack, make it as heavy as you can," Hess suggested.
Aside from keeping themselves lean and mean the sessions are also keeping smiles on separated faces.
"Our goal is to always have an environment so when something like this happens, our guys all feed off of it and they have the mentality where they want those things and they're looking for edges and I think that's exactly what we've got here where, you know, the amount of guys we have on our training sessions is incredible," Hess said. "So it's a very positive thing."
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