A Bozeman, Montana native, Veltkamp, who graduated from Carroll College, had stops at Utah and Louisville prior to being named head strength and conditioning coach at Arkansas in 2008.
Here is Part I of our interview with NC State strength and conditioning coach Jason Veltkamp.
What led you to NC State?
There was some transition going on at Arkansas where some people were let go, and some of us were kind of waiting but we didn't have guarantees.
I wasn't necessarily out there pursuing other jobs, but I saw what Coach Doeren had accomplished at NIU and I had been at Louisville in 2007 when we played here at NC State and I was able to see the excitement of the fans. It was an opportunity to go in with a coach that had a plan, with high energy, who was looking to build something special. It seemed to me to be different than some of the other coaches around the country taking jobs so it was something that intrigued me.
I came across Coach Doeren's email address and just shot him a note; I didn't hear anything for about a week and then late one night he responded and I responded to him about 1:00 AM and then I got a call the next day at 6:30 AM on a Saturday. That day we kind of figured things out and it seemed like a great opportunity.
Like I said, I wasn't out there just pursing a lot of jobs, I sent one resume out and that was here because it's an exciting opportunity.
Talk about some of your basic philosophies of strength and conditioning.
We're going to pull from a lot of different areas; we're going to use new, we're going to use old, we'll use some cutting edge stuff. We'll try to incorporate some technology into our program whether it is laser timing bar speed to in-depth video analysis of technique.
We want to stay ahead of the competition in any way possible with the new, but we're not going to overlook the old cause there's still value and strength in slinging a sledge hammer.
There's also value in being creative in the way you come at the kids; if you keep doing the same things over and over you're going to lose the kids and if you lose them it doesn't matter what your program is because it's not worth anything.
One of the things that drew me to Coach Doeren is that he's a big motivator and that's a big thing in the college game. That's an area I put a lot of pressure on my staff, to reach a kid that hasn't been reached before. I think the motivation part of it is discounted a little too much by various strength coaches because you just can't bark at them all day long or you'll lose them eventually. You've got to find a way to get at each kid individually, you've got make goal-setting a priority then find out why their goals are what they are and make sure you keep those goals in front of them.
If you don't know what they're doing this for and what they want out of it then you're not dangling the right carrot. Those are the things that are overlooked too often. You know you can write the best strength program in the history of the world but if only 50% of the kids buy in then your program doesn't matter anymore. So, we put a lot in to the mental aspect of it.
It seems like the new staff is full of energy and the players are responding to that.
I know the kids really appreciate the energy of the staff. The energy of my staff is awesome and they're able to bring the juice each and every day. As a whole this is most energetic staff I've ever been around and that has really been a huge factor in getting the buy-in from these players.
I think if we're not energetic then they're not going to be energetic, but if we are then they'll mirror that energy through the leaders on the team. Then that energy and that general attitude is going to transfer over to the practice field and then the games.
What's your take on measuring max numbers... verticals, broad jumps, lifts, etc...?
This thing out here, this football field, that's our measuring stick.
While there are parameters that you want to see kids fit in, you have to remember that each kid is different. You might be a short-torso, long-legged kid that can fly around out there and make plays but you're measurables in the weight room may not be great.
It's really a matter of figuring out what each kid's limiting factor is; you know, what is it that's holding you back from being better or being great.
So we need to, number one be able to do a needs analysis on each kid so we can spend the most time working to eliminate his limiting factor.
Based on the Youtube videos that have been released it looks like there is a fair amount of competition going on in the weight room. Talk about the competition within the strength program.
Competition and team building right now is big. Leadership from within the team is also a point of focus for us.
The first time we put them through something really hard they fractured and they started bickering and barking at each other and from a football perspective when we get a penalty we can't have a meltdown out there. You know, now it's first and five and they're coming at us, so instead of barking at one another let's put our focus on getting a sack and turning a positive play.
That's part of our training. The staff carries flags around and we'll throw a flag when they jump offside in a run-drill but we'll also throw a flag when they don't jump cause you've still got to learn to overcome that kind of thing because there's going to be bad things that happen on the football field or in life and you've got to learn to overcome them and move on to the next play, the next opportunity.