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Today, we’re sitting down with Coach Appel to learn a little more about his background in performance training and how his experiences have shaped his philosophy in working with athletes. Today, we’re sitting down with Coach Appel to learn a little more about his background in performance training and how his experiences have shaped his philosophy in working with athletes. 

How long have you been a sports performance coach? 

I started coaching my last couple of years in college when I was a volunteer strength coach for our National Champion racquetball team at Colorado State University – Pueblo, as well as helping with my old high school football team at Pueblo South. This was back in 2005, so I’ve been coaching for about 14 years now. 

What made you want to pursue a career in the sports performance field? 

Going into college I had no clue about strength and conditioning/sports performance as a career. I thought sport coaches handled it. But I knew I wanted to be involved in athletics or the gym somehow. I started off as an athletic training student which lasted about a semester. Shortly after I found out about strength and conditioning my sophomore year of college and have never looked back. What started off as an excuse to be in the weight room has now evolved into a drive to help others achieve their goals. 

What kind of schooling does your profession require? 

A Bachelor’s degree is required for the two main certifications in our field: NSCA – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and the CSCCa – Strength, and Conditioning Coach Certified. However, a master’s degree is preferred or  required for most jobs in this industry. I earned my Bachelor’s in Exercise Science from Colorado State University – Pueblo in 2006 and my Master’s in Exercise and Sports Science from Western States University in 2018. 

Tell us a little bit about your previous work experiences – I.e. Graduate assistantships, internships, previous performance training positions.

For a while I was all over the country.  In college I started off as a Volunteer Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Colorado State University – Pueblo Racquetball team. It sounds like a strange start, but it was a lot of fun and I had a great learning experience. At the time they were considering making racquetball a sport at the Pan-Am Games. Since CSU-Pueblo was the reigning National Champs and 45 minutes from the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, they made them the National Team and allowed us to train at the training center on Saturdays.

My first “real” collegiate experience came when I interned at Washington State. I was able to see an FBS operation while there as well as learn a ton from Coach Lang and Coach Oviatt. When the internship was complete I moved back home and started volunteering at the Air Force Academy working under Coach Hedrick and Coach Blackwood. From there I found a bit of luck in being offered a full-time job at Davidson College then went to the University of Idaho as a GA, and then back to North Carolina as a volunteer at UNC-Charlotte.

It was from UNC-Charlotte that I was offered the job at the University of Richmond. I spent nearly nine years there and had the honor of working with some great teams, great athletes and great coaches.

In August of 2017 I was blessed enough to begin a career as a high school strength coach at Fork Union Military Academy. It is a unique situation there as we have normal high school athletics and Post Graduate Football and Basketball teams. It’s a great blend of being able to make an impact on the high school athletes throughout their high school career as well as work with some elite athletes that come through the post graduate program. 

How have your experiences in the performance training world shaped your philosophy?
Every stop has shaped my philosophy in one way or another. I have been truly blessed to have been able to work with the coaches that I have: David Lang, Rob Oviatt, Allen Hedrick, Buck Blackwood, David Emery, Brandon Hourigan and Chris Stewart. I don’t know where I would be without these guys. Each one brought something unique to the table and helped me learn not only about teaching technique but how to be Coach and a mentor. Through these men I learned how to get out of my comfort zone and to never stop trying to get better.

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