Coach's Corner

Changes are taking place in the basement of the Graves Annex building. There are new equipment and new techniques, but it is the return of an old attitude that has my attention. The Husky Weight Room is changing for the better and there can be no doubt that the changes will have an impact.

This time last year the direction changed by the replacement of Head Strength and Conditioning coach Bill Gillespie with Pete Kaligis.

Because this change happened so late, Kaligis could do little except try to maintain the status quo. Gillespie has since gone on to the Seattle Seahawks and taken with him a great knowledge of power lifting.

Kaligis replaces that with a great knowledge of what it takes to play Husky Football.

Pete was a warrior on the field and a leader in the weight room. He was a leader by example and earned the respect of his teammates by being elected as their inspirational award winner. It is the most coveted award for any player, for it represents a spiritual commitment to the team concept.

Pete immediately went out and campaigned to hire none other than Steve Emtman to assist him in his new position at the UW. The two of them are determined to bring the Huskies back to the top and are driven to make the Dawgs into a championship team again.

Coach Rick Neuheisel is not afraid to embrace the past and to draw from it to improve the future. He shows that in these two hires. He reached back and brought two of the great hard workers of the early 90's back into the fold and they in return are bringing back some old techniques designed to bring the team together. Kaligis and Emtman are committed to bringing about a change in attitude, and it is already being felt throughout the team.

Gone are the days of dressing like an individual, wearing other schools colors, of not being on time, or even worse, not even showing up.

Championships are won in the off-season. More and more teams have the majority of their players stay in town and attend summer school. This works two ways, and both are positive.

First, in sticking around for the summer, players make significant progress toward their degrees. In the sport of football, graduation rates continue to climb because of this very concept. After three summers, a player gains the equivalent of an entire year's worth of credits.

Second, teams are built from within, and the summers give a great chance to develop team leadership. Last year WSU had almost their whole team stay in Pullman during the summer. For those of you that have never been to Pullman, suffice it to say that it's a HUGE commitment to live there any longer than you have to. However, the results spoke for themselves, as WSU had arguably their best team in school history.

This summer it will be the Huskies turn, and the Iron Dawgs will be building the "will" to survive through the long and difficult season.

One thing you'll be able to take to the bank is that there will be a commitment made by one and all in the weight room, and in the Dempsey Indoor Center. This year's team will pay the price this summer.

Those who don't won't be there come fall.

The new equipment being purchased comes from donations made specifically earmarked for that purpose. Longtime LA Alum and UW booster, Jim Kenyon, started the ball rolling by writing a big check to start the account. Then Associate Athletic Director for Fund Development, Ken Winstead, arranged for another major donor, Gordon Schram, to provide the necessary money to completely overhaul the existing outdated equipment.

Everyone who closely follows Husky Football knows that the Dawgs have had a disproportionate amount of shoulder injuries throughout the past few years.

Why? No one exactly knows. But it was so alarming that Dave Burton, Husky associate director for student support services and sports medicine, looked at every angle. Dave examined every exercise, piece of equipment, as well as surgery, rehab, and stretching related to those joints. The results of that study are being addressed and implemented by everyone, particularly Kaligis and Emtman.

They are committed to strengthening both the muscles and the joints. They immediately purchased ten Hammer Strength apparatus machines that are designed to develop the overall motion of human body when in the hitting position and its follow through. They now have plans to double the number of platform lift stations, which will allow for players to do all the major power lifts at each station rather than having to rotate continuously. Dot Stations will be increased to 12 and are used to develop quick feet and coordination. Other state-of-the-art equipment additions will bring the overall facility back to the top of the chart along with the best weight facilities in the conference.

Building a great room without the best equipment did not make sense, and this summer the UW will finally make the move to again become the best by providing the best.

Along with the physical changes has come a commitment to attitude change. Each player works out with his unit. Each unit is given specific workout times and those times are posted and honored. No one is late. In fact, five minutes early is considered to be on time. You dare not show up late without a phone call and a legitimate excuse.

Those unlucky enough to show up late or unexcused get to report at 6:00am on Fridays for a private conditioning workout with Coach Emtman. Steve isn't there to hold your coffee while you read the morning paper, he's there to kick your ass. It isn't something to look forward to.

Repeat violators are not punished but rather their entire unit is punished. Your whole unit shows at 6:00am Friday morning for an attitude adjustment period, provided courtesy of Coach Emtman. The violator is made to stand and watch as his unit goes thru the early morning grinders and exercises.

A third-time repeat violation results in the whole offense or defense having to go thru the same routine. Four-time violators are sent to Coach Neuheisel. Needless to say, there are few repeat violations as peer group pressure has a way of changing attitudes quicker than any coach.

Attitudes build the will to win. You must outwork your opponent. You must be wiling to pay a price, so that when the game is on the line, you can dig deep and come up with the will and energy to win at all costs.

That is the Husky way.

The changes start in the foundation, and at Washington, the foundation is located right below the coaches offices in the weight room. The hard work this summer will not only make the team stronger physically but will strengthen them internally.

Of all the players I came in contact with during my coaching career at Washington, Pete Kaligis and Steve Emtman epitomize the Husky spirit. Now they have a chance to impart their will to win upon their players.

The Iron Dawgs are building iron wills. Watch for it this fall.
Dawgman.com columnist and KJR 950 Sports Radio personality, Dick Baird.
Dick Baird was an Assistant Coach (Linebackers) and Recruiting Coordinator at the UW from 1985-1998. He has joined the Dawgman.com staff as a featured columnist for both the web site and Sports Washington magazine. In addition to his regular editorial columns, Coach Baird will try to provide some of his unique perspective by answering a few of your selected questions online. If you would like to send in your questions, please CLICK HERE.

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