From small town to college town to Sochi, Russia, Chad Gerhard ’10 is on his way to the greatest stage in sports. Starting Feb. 7, the BU alum will represent his university and his country at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
As a strength and conditioning coach for the U.S. Snowboarding Half-pipe and U.S. Aerials teams, Gerhard will help oversee workouts and coordinate gym sessions with the athletes. Athletes will also complete weight training, mobility and stretching exercises developed by Gerhard and the other coaches. Outside of physical training, Gerhard’s responsibilities extend to his athletes’ mental fitness.
“Athletes can get really worked up at the Olympics. My job is to provide a sense of normalcy,” says Gerhard.
With the pressures of competing, Gerhard keeps his athletes grounded by working with them in the gym. He says doing the exercises and going through the motions helps keep them in the mindset that the Olympic Games is just another competition.
Gerhard found his passion for snowboarding in his hometown of Weatherly, Pa., where he spent 10 years working and boarding at the Jack Frost Mountain Ski Resort.
“Being in that environment and that culture really made me fall in love with the sport,” says Gerhard.
After graduating from Weatherly Area High School, Gerhard headed to Penn State University to study kinesiology before transferring to Bloomsburg University, where he earned a degree in exercise science and athletics with a concentration in strength and conditioning. He completed internships at athletic facilities, including Velocity Sports Performance, Spirit Gymnastics Training Center and St. Joseph’s University.
When Gerhard found the Center of Excellence, he was able to combine the two things he loved doing most: strength and conditioning and snowboarding. The Center of Excellence is a national training center that serves the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA). In a bit of a gamble, Gerhard quit his full-time job and moved 2,000 miles to Park City, Utah, for an internship with the center. That gamble paid off as his internship led to his current position as high performance laboratory manager of the USSA.
When he came to Bloomsburg University, exercise science had not even occurred to Gerhard; once he stepped into Centennial Hall, however, he found himself on the right path. Skills and training techniques Gerhard learned in BU courses like 294 Resistance Training are put to use when he and other coaches are at the computers writing training programs for athletes.
“I was looking at some of my old files and I still use what I learned at Bloomsburg every day,” says Gerhard. “To apply that to Olympic athletes is awesome.”
Gerhard has high hopes when his team touches down in Sochi. He says veteran Olympians like Shaun White and rookies like siblings Ariel Gold and Taylor Gold offer a good mix of experience. Many countries do not send strength and conditioning coaches, so he’s most looking forward to the experience.
“Some of the athletes are pretty traveled,” says Gerhard. “I’ve felt pretty sheltered, so it will be great just to be part of the process.”
— Sean Williams ’15