Someone Who Gets It!

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One of my heroes and I do not have too many is Jimmy Radcliffe at University of Oregon.He gets it and has gotten it for a long time. Bellow is some excerptsfrom an article Rob Moseley in the Eugene Register Guard for SundayJune 15 titled “Building More Than Muscles.”This is a guy who flew all night to Chicago to hear two talks fromFrans Bosch at The USA Track & Field Level III Coaching school, theflew all night back to Eugene so he would not miss a workout! He is aconsummate coach and professional. He gets his players strong to playfootball, sure they Olympic lift, but that is one part of a biggerpicture. We need more Jim Radcliffes.

“Besides coach Bellotti,” senior receiver Garren Strong said, “I think he’s probably the most important, key factor.”

Watching a shirtless Radcliffe lead the football team through sprints across the grass practice fields at the foot of the Casanova Center, particularly in the summer, it’s hard to believe he has actually dialed down his intensity over the years.

Whenhe became head strength coach two years later, Radcliffe, a sticklerfor technique and efficiency, found participation to be his mosteffective teaching tool. It remains one of the key factors in playersbuilding respect for him.

“Therewere certain things I wanted done a certain way, and the best way forme to (teach) them was to get in there and do it with them – the paceof how things were going to go, the intensity of how things were goingto go,” Radcliffe said. “In the early stages, if you wanted change youhad to demonstrate the change.”

Asthe years went on, and Radcliffe’s techniques were absorbed by veteranplayers who helped demonstrate them for underclassmen, there becameless of a need to do every last drill with the team. And though hisweight lifting workouts are now limited to twice or three times a weekwith two nephews and a godson who live in town, Radcliffe still looksas if he could take the field for the Ducks in a pinch, unlike someother coaches in his field.

Bellottisaid that, more than once during his tenure as head coach, he hasoffered Radcliffe a raise, only to have the strength coach request thatit be split among his assistants.

But when his players start talking about him, it’s clear he has plenty of kids to watch over at work.

‘He’s an amazing guy’

Anyonewho spends much time around the football team is most struck byRadcliffe’s impact on the team when seniors appear in videopresentations at the annual postseason banquet.

It happened for redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Roper, who attended the banquet on a recruiting visit.

“Oneof the things I noticed was, everybody would thank their family andfriends,” Roper said. “And then they’d thank coach Rad.”

WithBellotti and his assistants so often away from the players, whether instaff meetings or on recruiting trips, Radcliffe is the most constantpresence in their lives. To freshmen, he can seem a little quirky, withhis outdated sweatsuits and the old bike he uses to tool around campus.

That ends when he begins to set such a demanding tone in his workouts. Radcliffe never rests, so that the players won’t either.

“It’svery business-like,” Roper said. “He treats his sport and his work verymuch like business, which is something we need to do also.”

Radcliffefavors calling players by their first names, rather than usingnicknames. He demands they wear either green and yellow or neutralcolors in the weight room, where he and his staff have offices.

Toa man, the players say Radcliffe commands their respect through thatprofessionalism, and also his participation in conditioning drills ineven the most extreme weather.

“It’snot like he’s just standing there with a whistle screaming at us,”junior defensive end Nick Reed said. “He’s actually running with us,and usually finishing ahead of a lot of us.”

Former Oregonpunter Josh Bidwell, who plays for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, saidRadcliffe has been instrumental in his career. It was Radcliffe whooversaw Bidwell’s training after the punter underwent surgery andchemotherapy for testicular cancer in 1999.

“Atthe end of every year, I come back and tell him how much I appreciatehim,” Bidwell said. “He’s a huge reason, in my mind, for my success…. The way he treats people, he treats you the same way he treats thewalk-on who’s not highly thought-of. I enjoyed that.

“Inever got any special treatment from him, and even now, he’ll come outand coach me if I’m doing something incorrectly, and he doesn’t coachme with a smile. He comes out and tells me to do it right, and I alwaysget a kick out of that.”

Bidwell, who lives in Eugene, does his offseason workouts in the Moshofsky Center, still following a regimen that Radliffe writes for him and leaves for him in a mailbox with workouts for Oregon’s punters.

“He’san amazing coach,” Bidwell said. “I really look forward to coming backevery offseason and getting his stuff in. He just really has a goodhandle on how to build the total athlete. His drills make you moreexplosive, which is a big thing in football, even at my position.

“Hehas a lot of drills, and he has a good handle on putting things inorder, so that you’re building toward being as strong and explosive asyou can. Some coaches, they just want you to be strong. They just wantyour squat to be high, and your bench to be high. That doesn’tnecessarily make you the best athlete, and he understands that, but italso confuses a lot of kids, because you come in after benching everyday in high school, trying to get strong, and they don’t understand whythey’re doing all these goofy lifts. …

“He’s above and beyond even a lot of pro strength coaches.”

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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
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Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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