Meet Coach Mylo, Part III

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Tom Myslinski was attracted to the open strength and conditioning position at UNC for several reasons.

"Reuniting with Coach Davis is great - I've always thought the world of Coach. I think that was very important," Myslinski said. "Secondly, I'm heavily involved with my governing body, which is the NSCA, National Strength and Conditioning Association. I'm always looking for a better way to do things. I'm very much into research. I like to read; I like to study. So, I try to be a professor of my trade.

"When I met with Larry Gallo (UNC's Senior Associate Athletic Director), Larry said that the most important thing was academics at the university. To me, it was music to my ears because that to me is how I pride myself. That was how I learned about taking care of myself, going out and getting my undergraduate in Kinesiology and my Masters in Physiology and seeking out all these other professionals to help me with my trade."

The facilities, which are about to receive a boost from the expansion project, are also a plus for Myslinski, even though he just helped finish the completion of a 13,000 square foot weight room addition in Memphis.

"Everything that we have here is very similar to what they just put into Memphis," Myslinski said and added that the new space being added, "Is going to be gorgeous. There's going to be some turf on the inside and outside." Coach Connors often noted that to do sprints in inclement weather, he and the players had to go to the indoor facility near the law school. With expansion, they can get that done now in Kenan Stadium.

The timing of his arrival at North Carolina has limited "Coach Mylo" in terms of his direct interaction with the players, which is curtailed to some extent by spring practice.

"We came in and they're getting ready for spring ball," Myslinski said. "The most important thing right now is that they participate and they technically and tactically learn how to play the sport that they came here to play, and that's playing football.

"So, everything I do right now, I'm very technically involved with them. I'm helping them. My object is to support them being ready to play football in practicing football right now. I'm actually preparing them to train with me in May at the same time."

That hasn't stopped him from taking note of the players in practice.

"I'm very excited," he said. "Evaluation-wise, I've just seen practice. Generally, there are some good-looking bodies. I'm very prejudiced – I just go O-line, D-line. You see NFL-caliber size; that's what is impressing me."

Myslinski is obviously a technician, a student of his profession, someone who is always looking for ways to give his players an edge through training, but he's not a stranger to the other roles often played by an S&C coach – mentor, life coach, confidant.

"I think being a strength coach you wear multiple hats," Myslinksi said. "I'm a big believer that the mental controls the physical. I think a very big part of what I do is that you have to teach your athletes to be mentally tough.

"As I get to know the players, I ask them questions about themselves and that's how I learn about them. But the biggest thing I think they appreciate is teaching from the heart. I want the athlete to realize his own potential and to be good for himself. I just try to be me and I just try to teach them on how to be the best player they can be and how to be the best person they can be."

Myslinkski looks forward to the May, June, July timeframe, because that's when a lot of intense performance training can take place. And he's got the basic plan in place.

"Basically we use a high/low (day) approach. For example, Monday, a high day, after some type of warm up, we would do max sprinting with the volumes adjusted according to position, some type of maximal medicine ball throws. We'd come in the weight room and do some type of Olympic lifting, some type of squatting for strength, etc.

"(On low threshold days) you have to look at potential injuries in football. The big career-ending injury right now is the shoulder, so we will do some shoulder work. The shoulder is built for mobility, not for stability. With concussions, what they're looking at now is isometric neck strains. So, we do a lot of neck work. After that, we'll do a lot of upper body dominant work."

Myslinkski is a serious guy, and that's evidence from his answers and his approach. But it's also evident in his demeanor.

Whether during practice or this interview session, a smile has not yet crossed his face – at least not for this author to see. When he posed for a photograph for this feature story, he explained that he never smiles for photos. It goes back to his days in the NFL, he joked (or so this writer assumed), recalling that offensive linemen would get fined if they smiled in photographs.

Fortunately for the UNC football program, he's also serious about S&C.

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