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Strength coach improves athletics

Posted on 12.11.2013

A heavy bar rests on the floor. It is held in rough hands connected to tense arms. The chest is out, eyes ahead, core tight, knees bent and feet balanced. Strong, perfectly still, the body waits. Then, with one controlled upward explosion, the bar and weight are lifted from the floor to a resting place on the shoulders, just above the collarbone. The weight returns to the floor, and the body and mind reset for another repetition.
This is an example of how one type of “Olympic lift” is carried out in the University of Indianapolis athletics weight room. These lifts are put into place by Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Steve Barrick to create a sound, strong and explosive body for student athletes. Beyond the weight room, Barrick also strives to give UIndy student athletes balanced and healthy lifestyles.
According to Barrick, his passion for fitness started before middle school when his father bought him a Joe Weider universal machine that stayed in the back of his childhood home where he would do various exercises including squats and bench. Barrick’s love for fitness continued as he competed as a student athlete at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Ind. Franklin College gave Barrick the opportunity to play football after high school, and in 2002 he graduated from Franklin with a degree in sociology, but fitness was still on his mind.
After graduation, Barrick sought a strength and conditioning position and landed a job as a football and strength coach at Indian Creek High School in Trafalgar, Ind. He spent several years there and then had a one-year stay at Franklin Community High School in 2009-2010. During that time, Barrick returned to school and began working on obtaining a bachelor of science and master of arts in teaching degree at UIndy. In 2010, he graduated from the university and was offered a position as the head strength and conditioning coach for the Greyhounds. He accepted, but this position had not previously existed, and that brought complications.
“Getting a program off the ground is always a challenge,” Barrick said. “You have to get the coaches to buy in, you have to get athletes to buy in and you have to break everyone down and build them back up.”
According to UIndy Baseball Graduate Assistant Coach Scott Lawley, the initial resistance to the Olympic lifts was evident in some coaches and athletes. Athletes were sore in places where they had not been before, and coaches were hesitant to trust Barrick with a job they had previously controlled. But as success set in, athletes and coaches came to trust in Barrick’s philosophy.
“Being here two years before Steve got here, and three years after he got here, I’ve seen freshmen that wouldn’t normally turn out to be anything gain definition, athleticism, and become key parts in every sport’s success,” Lawley said.
Lawley believes that the recent success of UIndy sports correlates with the influence of the weight program Barrick has brought to the school.
Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach Stephen Linzmeier agrees with Lawley, and said that every team has gotten better and stronger, and the numbers prove it.
UIndy finished 20th in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup in Barrick’s first year at UIndy. The next two years, UIndy finished fifth and then seventh, while also grabbing the first-place Great Lakes Valley Conference All-Sports Trophy both years. But even with these accomplishments credited to Barrick and his staff’s hard work, Barrick said impacting the post-graduation success of the student athletes is most important to him. His favorite memories are of former athletes returning to the university and telling him about their accomplishments after graduation.
“That is the biggest thing I’m in this for—trying to help young student athletes become better people when they get out of here and go into the workforce,” Barrick said.
Besides his knowledge of and devotion to strength and conditioning, Barrick’s dedication to the student athletes is one of the things that impress those around him most of all.
“He’s in here [at] 5:30 [a.m.] to 5:30 [p.m.] every single day, sometimes even later than that,” Lawley said. “It’s amazing interning with him, seeing the drain that he puts on his body putting workouts together and working with teams. For him to come to work every day and not be in the worst mood ever is pretty amazing. He’ll do whatever he has to do to help you.”
According to Barrick, the family atmosphere keeps him grounded at UIndy. As a homegrown Hoosier, he said he could not imagine leaving Central Indiana. Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sue Willey said she recognizes Barrick’s passion for and participation in the culture of success at UIndy. Willey said she strives to keep good people at the school.
“No matter what,” Willey said, “I will fight to the death to keep Steve Barrick.”


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