Durant pushes athletes

by Chrissy Zehrbach
Assistant Editor

The University of La Verne athletic department has developed a new strength and conditioning program under the direction of Matt Durant.

Durant, a 1999 graduate of ULV, is also the wide receiving coach for the football team. He was offered the coaching position last December and agreed to come to ULV this fall.

It was after he started coaching football that the idea of the new program arose.

“I watched what he was doing, and we talked over the possibilities,” athletic director Jim Paschal said. “We needed someone to do the job, and under the circumstances, he’s the guy we needed.”

Durant has been working this semester at establishing the new program. In correlation he also manages the weight room, which is located inside the Supertents.

“He knows what he’s doing; he’s responsible, and he works with lots of people,” Paschal said. “He has taken a lot of pressure off others.”

This is the first year ULV has offered a strength and conditioning program. Paschal said that it is also the first time ULV has had someone who has a strong interest in being a strength and conditioning coach.

“Students in the past have lifted here,” Durant said, “but not what I deem college level.”

Durant brings with him years of experience with weight lifting. Influenced by his father, he developed an early interest in the application.

“From a time I can remember, I’ve been watching guys power clean; it’s become a second nature,” he said. “I learned to power clean in seventh grade.”

Most recently, Durant worked at Wingate University in Charlotte, NC as the strength and conditioning coach.

He worked the same program at the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita.

Durant’s focus is explosive training. To achieve this, he teaches proper techniques in such skills as power cleans, jerks and squats, among others.

He prefers to use free weights and olympic bars with weight as opposed to weight-lifting machines for strengthening exercises because “the degree of difficulty rises, and you have to work harder.” This technique of lifting weights also helps to increase balance and control.

He believes that footwork and agility are also important because they provide a good base to start with and continue to build on throughout an athlete’s collegiate sports career.

Durant says the program also promotes fitness as a better part of life and attempts to strengthen and prevent injuries during the athletic season by building strong muscles.

Paschal said the strength and conditioning program “helps to serve athletes, teams and the university better.” The focus of the program is for ULV’s sports teams.

“I’d be willing to bet a lot of teams aren’t doing anything like this right now,” Durant said. “I want our teams to keep up with everyone in [the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference]. I want to blow them out of the water.”

Durant is willing to work with anyone and works with each group differently.

“I don’t want people to walk by the weight room and think it is just for athletes,” Durant said. “I try to help anyone who is interested as much as possible; anyone is welcome.”

Many ULV coaches have sent their students to establish a strength and conditioning workout routine and schedule with Durant. Paschal said this is effective because coaches are not always specialists in this area, but a strength and conditioning coach is.

“I’d love to have coaches tell their teams to show up; all I need is people to show up,” Durant said. “I don’t see every athlete, but I’ve seen a lot of them. I’d love to work with everyone and get them to a certain level.”

“You can’t make someone lift weights; you just hope every athlete wants to get better and reach their potential,” he added. “In my opinion, once you settle, you’re done.”

He is a firm believer that once an athlete accomplishes something in the weight room, they can accomplish anything on the field.

Durant is looking forward to his second semester at ULV. He has plans to purchase new equipment and rearrange the weight room so that there is more space for people to work out in different ways.

The number of weightlifting classes Durant is teaching will also increase next semester. He is currently teaching only one but plans for seven in the Spring.

The strength and conditioning program has been successful thus far and should continue to grow with time and Durant’s dedication.

“He’s doing a great job,” Paschal said. “He demands discipline and requires focus. We’re extremely happy to have him here in this position.”

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Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.

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