As a strength and conditioning intern for coaches Vollmecke and Dahl, I attempted to do the things that they were either too busy to do or things that didn't require their immediate attention. As they were head coaches, I wanted them to not have to worry about any sort of "menial" work. These tasks included general cleaning and rearranging around the weight room, as well as carrying different implements (ladders, hurdles, etc.) to the football field, gym court, and wherever we participated in speed and agility sessions. I had opportunities every day to also participate in the activities that the head coaches did. From actually coaching individuals one on one and in group settings, from running a whole block of training (an hour or so of warming up and then the actual lifting session) to running a whole day filled with multiple training blocks with multiple ages of kids (grades 6 to 12). I think a really fun day was when the Northwest weight room wasn't furnished with equipment and I was able to help the coaches and some of the football kids actually set up the room itself. From unloading and unwrapping bars, weights, and dumbbells to putting weight sleds and machines together, it was a real treat to set up a new room.
I'd have to say my greatest accomplishment was learning the entire 9th-grade football team's names, as well as the names of the majority of upperclassmen and 9th graders in general. Like in many different jobs, calling someone by their name can lend some credibility to what you are telling them in terms of feedback and just shows that you cared to learn the name itself. I think kids are perceptive and know when someone doesn't really care about their wellbeing or have feedback that relates to them, and one of the easiest ways to relate and give feedback specific to an individual is to call them by their name.
Lessons I learned included how to plan and execute different blocks of training for different age groups, improvising on the fly, and how to run a weight room. It's difficult to balance one on one coaching with group coaching as well as making sure that the whole room is on the same set or exercise. Doing all of this while being mindful of the time and the dozens of things happening around the weight room is what I call "running" a weight room, and it was challenging to learn at first. I realized that it wouldn't happen overnight, and experience doing as well as understanding how to teach and coach would help me make a positive impact while running a weight room.
What advice would you give?
Jump at EVERY opportunity you get in terms of hands-on experience. Whether it be volunteering in your own time, taking kinesiology classes with a lot of hands-on experience, or practicing what you preach and study the movements and biomechanics of certain lifts, it all will be useful and practical in an exercise science internship. Coming into Iowa State with an understanding of how to lift because of your own experiences is great, but really getting your hands dirty throughout your ISU Kinesiology experience (volunteering for different Professors in their labs, actively learning during Kinesiology labs, understanding the subject material and then putting it to practical use) will benefit your internship and eventual future career tremendously.