The Cincinnati Bearcats' Unique Approach to Team Building
A change of scenery, if only temporary, can work wonders in athletics. A new workout environment certainly paid dividends for the University of Cincinnati football team in 2018 and turned out to be an exercise in team building.
In early 2017, Brady Collins, the director of football sports performance, had to relocate the team’s weight room for more than a year because of construction around an $87 million renovation to Fifth Third Arena. Collins had to set up temporary shop in the Sheakley Athletics Center underneath an inflatable 72,000-square foot “Bearcat bubble.”
Adversity apparently made the Bearcats stronger—as evidenced by a successful 2018 football campaign in which they were 11-2 and capped the season with a 35-31 win over Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl.
“Moving our weight room to the Bubble for more than a year turned out to be one of the best things we could have done as a program,” said Collins. “Having our training facility located directly inside our practice area made it feel like we had our own personal indoor training facility. It allowed for my staff to be creative with our workouts and program design by utilizing both our training area and the practice turf. Lives were forever changed inside what we called ‘The Thunderdome.’ Some days the heat would be on and some days it wouldn't. It gave us an edge. We didn't care where we trained. It's all about how we train. Our style of play is ‘tough and nasty’, and that’s exactly how we train.”
In July 2018, the Bearcats moved back into their permanent space in the Lindner Athletic Center adjacent to the arena. The monumental task took nearly five days and involved Collins, his staff and a few Hammer Strength associates. The crew dismantled, moved and reassembled 14 combo racks; and hauled plate-loaded machines, dumbbells and accessories into the new space.
The team building in the bubble was appreciated, but Collins is thrilled about being in the permanent space. The weight room was painted, motivational banners and flags were added, and the equipment was laid out to be more efficient. The space served the Bearcats well for in-season strength training in 2018 and is set to prepare them for another successful season in 2019.
“The new weight room area is working great for us,” added Collins. “We moved back into the old area, but made some major changes that benefit all parties involved. Half of the room is set up for the Olympic sports, and the other half is the football training area. It's not as big and open as it was in the bubble, but it's located on the ground floor, just one floor below our football locker rooms, meeting rooms, team room, equipment room, and training room. So, for convenience, it's the best for our athletes. We are very happy with everything that has been built during our short time here so far, and now the results of all that tough and nasty work is paying off on Saturdays.”