Brad DeWeese Tapped as First Team USA Canoe/Kayak Strength Coach
Brad DeWeese, a lecturer in UNC Asheville’s Health and Wellness Department, may have a hand in bringing home an Olympic medal from the summer games in London next year. DeWeese was recently tapped as the first strength and conditioning coach for Team USA Canoe/Kayak and has been hard at work training Olympic hopefuls—as well as serving as director of sports performance for athletes at the university.
His work with Olympic hopefuls began in November at the first USA Canoe/Kayak Slalom Team Camp at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte. DeWeese met with athletes for four days and created individualized programs for each paddler to give them more power and control on the water.
So far, the new training plan is paying off. The team competed in the Pan-American Championships in Mexico at the end of January, taking home two gold, three silver and one bronze medal. Currently, the team is training in Australia to prepare for competitions throughout the spring.
Because of this busy travel schedule and home bases ranging from Colorado to Georgia, DeWeese has had to be creative in monitoring the athletes’ progress.
“They videotape their weight lifting and dry-land training and send them to me via their phone,” he said. “One athlete actually puts his laptop in the weight room and will Skype his workout to me while I sit at my computer and watch it.”
A number of Team USA Canoe/Kayak members, including Beijing Olympian Benn Fraker, have come to campus to meet one-on-one with DeWeese for intense multi-day training sessions.
DeWeese has used these new opportunities to enhance his role as an educator as well. He has given UNC Asheville students the singular opportunity to meet and work with Olympic athletes.
Senior Health and Wellness Promotion majors Simon Haake, Emily Pineda and Mike Vaughn joined DeWeese at the November training camp and assisted with the workouts. They also lend a hand when athletes come to campus to train. Each student earned the U.S.A. Olympic Weightlifting Level I Coaching Certification to be able to work with the elite athletes.
“The U.S. Olympic Committee provides a handful of internships for undergraduate students to work at Olympic training centers. Usually that is the only time students are able to work with Olympic athletes. So this is a very, very rare opportunity,” DeWeese said.
Vaughn said the experience was transformative. “I haven’t graduated from college yet, and I’m getting to work with people who will be representing our country in the Olympics. Nothing I’ve experienced has been better. It was amazing,” he said.
After working with the Olympic hopefuls at the training center and on campus, Vaughn decided to attend graduate school to prepare for a career working with Olympic or professional athletes.
DeWeese said that is exactly the kind of internal motivation he desires from his Olympic hopefuls—and his students. “I try to inspire them. I try to give them every bit of information they need to succeed. And I try to foster that desire for excellence to chase their dreams.”