William Jewell College’s athletic teams all supplement their extensive sport-specific practices with training for overall athleticism. The staff in charge of this far-reaching responsibility to make athletes “bigger, faster, stronger” are Gage Rosier, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, and Miles Clifton, Graduate Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach. The two design physical and nutritional fitness goals and implement these plans for individual teams. They simultaneously work to instill the program’s core values of positivity, effort, respect, service and learning in all their athletes.
Rosier took over this position in April 2016, and Clifton joined as his assistant this August. Both completed their undergraduate degrees at Northwest Missouri State University and have backgrounds heavy in various sports participation and viewership. Rosier has his masters in applied health and sports science, and Clifton is working toward the same graduate degree.
The coaches’ weekly team schedule hangs on a whiteboard in the Strength and Conditioning office in the Mabee Center’s weight room. The calendar blocks are filled from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a small off-period midday. Rosier arrives on campus to set up for workouts around 4 a.m. each weekday. This is part of his responsibility to work with coaches and plan specific exercise schedules for each team.
Clifton’s current responsibility is to ensure the athletes’ safety. This includes observing training to look out for proper form and generally following exercise plans.
“When we get a lot of athletes running around in [the weight room], it’s good to have a second set of eyes,” said Clifton.
He is also becoming more familiar with planning strategies in order to be able to design them himself eventually.
Rosier keeps both athletic performance and long-term health in mind when structuring his training sessions and overall team goals.
“A stronger, faster, more powerful athlete in general is a healthier athlete, so our side of it is keeping them healthy as well as giving them the tools to perform the skills, the sports-specific skills, to the best of their ability,” Rosier said.
He explained that fitness practices that improve game-time performance typically improve overall individual longevity as well. Rosier hopes to help athletes form good exercise and general lifestyle habits that last after college athletic careers.
“We want to teach our athletes how to move safely, whether it’s with a certain exercise or just general movement patterns,” he said. “And number two, we want to try to make them more durable or prevent injury the best we can. We’re here focused on the general preparation to give them the skills and body to be able to perform those plays and whatever the coach wants them to do.”
Rosier thinks the long-term impacts of athletic participation should not be limited to physical abilities and practices.
“We obviously want to make them bigger, faster, stronger, but if we can instill some values in these kids to where they’re extremely positive, they’re always wanting to serve others, they’re always wanting to learn, constantly, they are enthusiastic, they are accountable, they have integrity, they’re doing all those little things, that’s what’s going to help them keep a job, get a job, be successful,” Rosier said.
This positivity is the most important part of the job for Rosier. He tells all teams on his first day with them that everyone involved needs to come at every day with effort, good attitudes and respect. These are values that transcend physical fitness into the social and cultural realms and translate into job marketability. Rosier hopes his athletes become respectful and successful citizens, so he emphasizes continued positivity, effort and respect even without consistent wins.
The Strength and Conditioning coaches work with a high volume of students in their team coaching and physical education courses. Rosier teaches Fitness and Strength Training Methods in the spring semester. He suggests this for anyone interested in learning basic lifting form and strengthening techniques. The crossover between these physical skills and the values he stresses as so important is where he finds the most joy in his job. He recalled a certain team’s experience realizing their own strength last year
“They were always very timid and didn’t realize how strong they were, and once we kind of released that and they finally started to realize that they could move some weight and be pretty strong, just to see their reaction and how different they carry themselves is always fun for me to see,” Rosier said.
Though Jewell’s facility rules don’t allow non-athletes to use weight room equipment, he is happy to advise anyone on campus with fitness goals of strength, nutrition or anything health-related. The program is also always looking for interns, a role of particular value for anyone interested in physical training, athletic training or any kind of coaching and communication skills.
Rosier gave his only caveat for potential interns with a meaningful grin.
“You’ll have to wake up a little bit early in the mornings sometimes,” he said.