If you attend a Huskie practice, you are likely to see some players doing various exercises with heavy ropes. This training is usually for players who are sitting out of practice with an injury. The man putting them through the paces, in these workouts, is Nick Clarke. Nick is a graduate student from the U.K., who, under the direction of Bart Arnold, serves as a strength and conditioning coach. Nick is very dedicated to his role with the team, and has earned the respect of all the players. He spent a few minutes with Huskie Outsider and described his background that led him to the UofS, his duties with the team, and the program he and Bart Arnold have developed.
Nick first arrived at the University of Saskatchewan a decade ago. “I originally came to the UofS, on a student exchange, in 2002, from the University of Bath, where I was a rugby player. I went back home and finished my undergrad degree. I came back here and did a masters degree, starting in 2005. Then I went and worked for two years for the English institute of rugby, and some Olympic teams. Then I came back to the UofS to do a PhD with John Farthing, who is my supervisor and a former quarterback with the Huskies. I had a few ideas, for a PhD, in terms of training load and ways to identify fatigue quicker and earlier. So I sent John an email, and he said that he was interested in this. I came over here, and luckily the college gave me a little money to T.A. I went straight away to Bart and B.T. – I shared with them my ideas asked them what they thought.”
“Everything goes through Bart Arnold,” Nick stated of the Huskies’ strength and conditioning program. “We shared our ideas, and implemented a program. It’s tough because I’m a student and Bart works full time as a teacher at the college as well. But we try and do our best to give the boys as much as possible. My role is to make the Huskies physically dominant athletes, keep them on the field, make sure that they’re robust, and make them better players. Everything that we do has a scientific base. We’re interested in speed, functionality, and power. We try to get them ready as best we can for the season, making sure that they’re as fast as possible for their postion. As we get closer to the season, the training becomes more specific to the players’ positions.” Nick then went on to discuss the sideline workouts with the ropes. “We try to get those injured players back as quick as possible. The work that the players do with the ropes depends on their injury. Generally, what we try and do is whole-body functionality.” The rope exercises ensure that the injured players aren’t too far away from gameday shape. “We don’t want there to be a large disparity between players coming off on an injury, and the players who haven’t been injured. There is also a mental aspect to it as well – the guys who are out there working hard don’t want to see the injured guys just sitting on the bench doing nothing, and then just come back in when they’re ready. Then there’s the psychological part for the injured players – if they know that they’ve been working, then they know that they’ll be ready to go when they get back on the field.”
In spite of his rugby background, Nick has developed a passion for football. “I was an NFL fan before I came to Canada. I understand what these guys go through. I don’t completely understand the tactical side of things, but I’m a big fan now of the CFL, NFL, and obviously the Huskies.”
Note: Huskie Outsider will launch OutsiderTV, live from training camp, on Tuesday at 5:15. Come back to the site and watch live from your computer. We plan to give you an inside look at training camp.