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Dec. 2, 2006

A look at the people behind the scenes who are pertinentto Virginia women’s basketball success

by Cathy Bongiovi

Title: Head Strength Coach for Olympic Sports
Years at UVa: Third Season
Texas-Arlington, B.S., interdisciplinary studies, biology, psychology, ’93
Texas-Austin, M.Ed., exercise physiology, ’95

What are your responsibilities with the teams?
I’m in charge of scheduling (workouts) and the overseeing all of the Olympic sports which includes distribution of the teams to the other assistant strength coaches. I’m personally in charge of five specific teams which are women’s soccer, women’s basketball, women’s tennis, baseball and softball this year. It changes year-to-year.

How many people are on your staff?
We have three assistant strength coaches and two graduate assistants.

What’s your favorite part of the job?
Working with the athletes. Every year I get a year older, but the kids stay the same age. They keep you young. It really does. It’s enjoyable to see them grow over their four years. It’s rewarding when they’re successful.

Least favorite part of the job?
Being a policeman. That’s an integral part of the job unfortunately, but sometimes you have to be the bad guy. I hate scheduling; it’s twice a year, but you have to schedule 24 teams other than football. Within that, there’s a throws coach, jumps coach, middle distance coach, pitching coach, etc., so there are almost 30 coaches you have to please or attempt to please. Everybody views their own little niche and isn’t concerned with the other 25 sports. So trying to keep everybody in a good spot in far as getting them the scheduling they want but making sure we can accommodate them with a really small staff.

Where were you before Virginia?
I was the head strength coach at Fresno State.

That’s a big change from California to Virginia:
I’m an East coast guy anyway. I’m from New York originally, so it wasn’t that big a change.

What’s a typical day when you’re working with basketball?
It depends on the day and the time of year, but if it’s just a weight training day, they train at 7:30 in the morning. I’m usually in the gym at JPJA by 7 a.m., setting up the room for whatever their lift is for the day. They’re there early. We start to lift as soon as everybody’s there. I supervise their lift. When they’re finished in 35-45 minutes, I clean the room and head back to take care of my other responsibilities.

How many times do they lift a week?
Depending upon the game schedule in-season, they lift one or two times a week. In the off-season, it’s three times a week.

Do you counsel them on nutrition?
On an individual basis. If they have an issue or a problem and they feel comfortable talking to me about it, I am a resource for them.

What’s the best part about working with Debbie Ryan and the team?
You feel like you’re a part of something- part of a family, part of a community. It’s everybody pulling in the same direction.

You’re named head women’s basketball coach for one year. What’s the first thing you’d do?
Pick a staff that I know and trust. Loyalty is huge for me. Then let them do their jobs.

What do you like most about John Paul Jones Arena?
I think the majesty of it- the pomp and circumstance.

What do you like to do for fun?
The job is fairly all-encompassing. Outside of the job, I enjoy reading. I’m an avid reader. I like shopping. I enjoy sporting events. I go to most of the events on campus.

Is there something you’d like to accomplish that you haven’t done yet?
Yes, I’d like to win the Sears Cup. I really would. That’s a large goal obviously. That’s not just me, that’s an university-wide endeavor. You have a small part of it.

Your teams work all year round now, right?
That’s the nature of college sports now. You may get a week or two off, but for the most part, it’s year round.

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