As Vassar’s varsity athletes prepare for another new year of competition, they are joined by more fresh faces than just incoming first-years.
After a year of coaching changes and inconsistent lifting schedules, Vassar’s student-athletes eagerly welcomed the newest addition to the athletic community, Varsity Strength and Conditioning Coach Alice Read.
A former Division III soccer player, Coach Read earned her bachelor’s degree in Applied Exercise Science from the University of New England in 2012. In 2016 she earned her master’s degree in Health and Human Performance from the University of Montana, and she has worked previously with student-athletes at Dartmouth College, Bates College and Williams College. Vassar’s similarity to these institutions initially drew Read to the College. “The reputation in higher education attracted me to this position,” she explained.
According to Read, her background in collegiate sports builds a strong foundation for her to understand the lifestyle and priorities of Vassar’s student-athletes: “I have worked at several high academic institutions prior to Vassar, and I love working with student-athletes who challenge and push me. It makes me a better coach and teacher when I surround myself with student-athletes who will ask questions and challenge the ‘why’ behind our training.”
Already, changes implemented by Coach Read to accommodate the wishes of student-athletes have improved the lifting program in the eyes of many Brewers. While most student-athletes used to partake in the same lifting schedules and exercises, lifts are now specialized to suit the needs of individual teams.
Senior men’s basketball captain Steve Palecki has noticed this change already: “The main thing I’ve enjoyed about Alice’s lifts compared to prior strength plans is the individualized lifting strategy she employs for each sport,” Palecki attested. “The basketball team isn’t doing the same workouts as lacrosse or soccer, and vice versa. The specific nature of these workouts put us a step ahead of the competition when the season starts in terms of strength and injury prevention.”
Other changes have pleased members of the Brewer athletic community, such as the shift from specific lifting days for arms and legs to full-body lifts. According to senior women’s lacrosse player Cheris Congo, “Alice’s lifts have a variety that we’ve never seen before in the weight room. Her lifts are all full-body workouts, just three times a week.”
Athletes note that this new schedule better complements their normal training and practices. “Rather than going to lift four times a week just to get strong, we’re working on our strength with respect to our sport,” explained Congo, “and with some sports, lifts that are even specific to position.” Congo also spoke highly of Coach Read’s attention to athlete feedback, adding, “Our lifting cards also now include a feedback section, meaning that Alice is willing to change workouts if they are extremely easy or taxing.”
This focus on feedback is crucial to maintaining the health of athletes both in and out of season by allowing maximum strength development while avoiding potential overwork and injury.
The structural and stylistic changes of the lifting programs are not the only positives of Read’s nascent tenure already noted by several athletes. Congo observed that Read has displayed an admirable dedication to strengthening and conditioning college athletes, but also a passion for bettering each individual and furthering real knowledge of lifting, adding, “I think Alice’s passion for the weight room shines through in every single lift session. I’ve noticed that she never sits down during a session—she’s always walking around the weight room, checking on everyone, making sure our form is okay and just talking to us.” These gestures may appear minor, but never go unnoticed by her students. According to Congo, “[They make] a big difference in the morale of the weight room.”
Coach Read reciprocates the excitement her students-athletes feel about her. “I love the work ethic and energy that our student-athletes bring on a daily basis to the weight room,” Read declared. “I’ve also noted how our student-athletes adapt and adjust easily. Our athletes do a great job adjusting to new or different exercises in a busy environment, and have adapted to my new format seamlessly and smoothly.”
In her initial months as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Vassar, Read has already turned heads. Confident in Read’s new schedule, closely-tailored workouts and guiding hand, Brewer student-athletes are dreaming of success in their 2018–2019 seasons.