Q&A with conditioning and strength coach Baladi
The Concordia Courier
By Camryn Lavine | 3/31/2023
Concordia Strength Coach, Danny Baladi, opens up about his journey from aspiring footballer, to ACL injury, to Concordia’s head strength and conditioning coach.
Q: Were you an athlete growing up?
A: Yes, in high school, I played the three traditional, bigger sports: Baseball, basketball, and football. In college, I was recruited to play football, and I tore my ACL before starting my freshmen year, and that’s what got me into the field that I’m currently in, to help reduce the likelihood of injuries with other athletes.
Q: When did you realize you wanted to become a strength and conditioning coach? Was this after the ACL injury?
A: It was after the ACL. I wanted to go to school as an athletic trainer first. That was my first interest. I was like “Okay, I’d love to be on the sidelines. If I’m not able to play anymore, how can I still be involved in the sport?” I found out about performance training, and I thought, “Man, this would be a different way than athletic training of reducing the likelihood of injuries for athletes, and making them more functional. I thought, “You know what, if we could prevent this from the start, via the weight room and training, this might save some athletes ability to play, scholarships, and so on.”
Q: What’s been your favorite thing about being the head strength and conditioning coach?
A: My favorite thing would be the relationships with the athletes that I’ve gotten to develop. There are over five hundred and fifty student athletes, so it’s hard to have unique relationships with everybody, but the relationships I have with the athletes are so much different than the athletic trainers and the sport coaches. We have such a different rapport and ability to build relationships together because of the nature of my job. That’s been the most rewarding thing: Seeing athletes develop and grow into great people.
Q: Is there anything you’ve taken from your years of coaching and being an athlete that you’ve put into your work?
A: I say this all the time to our graduate assistants and young coaches that I’m mentoring and helping: Athletes won’t care what you know unless they know how much you care. I could put a great workout together on the whiteboard, on their sheets, but if the athletes don’t know that I care about them, or that I’m seeking out their success, then it’s gonna be hard for them to want to invest fully into what I’m asking them to do.
Q: For the people who want to workout, but aren’t an athlete, and/or don’t know where to begin, what would your advice be to them?
A: My advice would be that there’s a lot of free workouts, free demonstrations, on YouTube. That’s a great place to start. Or honestly, finding a friend who likes to workout, and just joining them. I tell people all the time: “It’s just a matter of getting started.” A lot of people get discouraged because they don’t know where to start. Honestly, for example, [consider trying] CU Active. If you go into CU Active right now, there’s like eight cable machines that will give you diagrams of what you need to do, just to even start doing those basic exercises.
Q: What would your advice be to people who are interested in this type of career field?
A: If you’re leaning into bio or kinesiology, those would be two strong fields to study because there’s so much happening biologically and in the muscular system. A great place to start is to really hone in on your anatomy and physiology knowledge. Those two things are driving everything I do everyday, it’s going to drive what a PT is doing everyday, and what an athletic trainer is needing to do everyday. If I wasn’t as well-versed in my anatomy, my subsequent testing, my testing for my strength and conditioning exam, my testing for the other things I need to be certified through to work with college athletes, those things would have been so much more difficult…You’re going to take the classes, but I would spend a little bit extra time really focusing on improving in those areas.
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