K-State Sports Extra: It's Summer Time

MANHATTAN, Kan. - It's this time of year when Frank Martin turns his basketball program over to the expertise of strength and conditioning coach Scott Greenawalt, and football coach Bill Snyder does the same with first-year coach Chris Dawson.

A product of the Oklahoma Sooner and Kansas Jayhawk strength programs, Dawson says, "I'm in the business of continual improvement. It seems so simple, but you really do have to remind the kids why they're in the weight room."

During the playing season, Dawson says it's a period of time ".... of controlled intensity. We control the number of sets and reps, and the intensity of the program."

During the winter conditioning phase, Dawson says it will depend from year to year on the specific area where the team needs to be better.

"This past year we had a lot of redshirt guys who needed to get bigger and stronger, but everyone is trying to get better," said Dawson. "If you're done improving, then you're done. There is always something to improve on."

And, there's the summer program that will begin next week and gear toward readying the team for the two-a-days of August and performing better on the 12 Saturdays of the fall season.

"Everything we do will have a purpose. There will always be a method to our madness," said Dawson of the summer training. "The reason may not always be agreed upon, but if they understand why we're doing something, it makes it much easier to come in and work hard at it."

Dawson continued by saying the summer session was his favorite time of the year because of fewer distractions making it easier to focus on the training.

"We stress five areas all year long," said the 37-year-old Dawson. "That's speed, strength, conditioning, flexibility and nutrition. What the priority is depends on the individual. Some athletes we will be trying to put on weight, while with others we'll be trying to slim down. There's a game, so to speak, with each athlete where you're trying to win with that one individual. That's what makes it so rewarding."

While not always fun just to get from Point A to Point B in the shortest amount of time, and while not always fun to run, lift and sweat, Dawson said, "We're continually trying to focus on what it takes to win on Saturdays. If kids know that your care is genuine, they will do what you ask."

From his own personal experience, Dawson has a special appreciation for what a strength and conditioning program can do for a student-athlete.

"I wasn't a good enough athlete to get on the field unless I lived in the weight room, so I had a pretty good relationship with my strength coach," said the former Oklahoma Sooner linebacker. "I was one of those guys who lived in the weight room just to have a chance to earn the right to play on special teams and as a backup linebacker."

It's that blue collar approach that Dawson feels has helped him in his current arena of coaching.

"I don't make this as an absolute statement, but a lot of times your best coaches are guys who had to scratch and claw for everything they got as a player," said Dawson. "Sometimes the really talented player doesn't understand what the average Joe has to go through to play."

While the fans, and even player, at times, focus on what the stopwatch says, or the poundage being lifted, Dawson also stresses, "You don't want to forget to just watch the film and see who's making the play. The guy making plays may not be able to run this fast, or lift this much, but he makes plays. He knows how to play the game."

Dawson adds that his chosen profession is one of teaching life skills to teenagers and young adults. That includes accountability and humility.

"You want them to be successful, but once you reach a certain level of success, sometimes the program becomes choking on your own success," said Dawson. "When you walk out of here (weight room), you've signed your name to your performance. What impressions are you leaving everyday.

"Great people and teams are consistent in what they do. They're not great one day and then don't show up the next," said Dawson. "Sure, there are times when a player or a team is going to struggle. That's life. But if you're consistent in your preparation and your work habits, it's going to give you the opportunity to be great. Consistency can't be hounded on enough."