Really terrific article from The Advocate about how Texas Tech’s new strength and conditioning coach Rusty Whitt went from joining the Army after 9/11 to how he pushes players beyond what they think they can do. The narrative to the story is really terrific and starts with Whitt figuring out how he he had to learn to push his body beyond what he thought he could do.
Whitt is careful to acknowledge that players are not soldiers and they have things pretty easy:
The players under Whitt’s charge aren’t his soldiers. As he puts them through hell, as he pushes them over their mental hurdles, he reminds them of how good they have it.
“Somewhere there’s a guy on a combat outpost in Afghanistan right now that wishes he had the opportunity to play college football and get a scholarship, have food paid for him. Have an intern make him milkshakes, ” Whitt said. “There’s a lot of people out there that would really cherish the opportunity these guys have. I try to make them aware of that and make them take advantage of their resources, to realize how blessed they truly are to be here.
Even the players recognize that they previously really didn’t know what their limits were physically and mentally:
Defensive lineman Jacoby Briscoe remembers the first time he protected the house in a gas mask. It was last summer. Up and down the steps he went, his field of vision narrowed by the plastic panes separating his face from the open air it craved, his breathing labored. He nearly passed out – but he didn’t quit.
“That strategy right there is another way that made us mentally stronger,” Briscoe said. “Pushing us to become more like grown men, thinking that every day is a survival day.”
Maybe this is where Kingsbury is headed with Whitt’s hire. I’m sure that the prior strength and conditioning coach worked out and the players did their time, but how far were his guys willing to push themselves beyond what they think they know is their limit. I think I’ve come to conclusion that the strength and conditioning coach is going to push these guys to be better than they thought they could ever be. I get the feeling that these guys are about to walk into a whole new world.