A veteran with more than three decades of experience in the field, Joel St. Cyr P’20 has been the head strength and conditioning coach at Babson College since 2014. A graduate of Springfield College, he was a part-time strength and conditioning coach with the New England Patriots and a graduate assistant at Clemson University before being hired to run the strength and conditioning program at Northeastern University in 1991. After 20 years with the Huskies, St. Cyr opened his own performance academy prior to becoming the Beavers’ first full-time strength and conditioning coach.
You’ve been a strength and conditioning coach since the late 1980s. How did you get your start?
“I was a two-sport athlete in high school, a football and track and field guy. My brothers and my dad built a weight room in our garage. We had a squat rack, a bench and dumbbells and barbells—a lot of stuff that people didn’t have back in the day—and it got to the point where all of the football players at the high school would train at my house. I’d be writing the programs up four days a week and would leave it on a clipboard, so after working out with my group, it would be there for other groups throughout the day.
“I went to Springfield College to play football but suffered a back injury the spring of my freshman year. As I was concentrating on rehabbing my back, I really got into my studies and the skill classes and got myself in better shape. The first time I heard about a strength coach was in nutrition class my junior year when our professor and baseball coach brought his buddy, Rusty Jones of the Buffalo Bills, to class. From that point on, I started to research what a strength coach was all about. I kept on pushing and was lucky to get an internship with the New England Patriots, which turned into a job as one of the first part-time strength coaches for the team.”
What drives you to help student-athletes perform their best?
“I love the process of teaching and coaching the student-athletes to be the best they can be physically, mentally, and spiritually for the individual goals and team success. I love that camaraderie in the process of seeing how hungry these kids are to be the best, and I want to be a part of that. I love being part of a team, and the big thing is I love the results, seeing a kid come in and then what they look like after four years. It’s not just for their sport; I want them to be students of health and fitness and well-being for the rest of their lives.”
“We have great support, and I love the entrepreneurial spirit of the athletes. They teach me a lot with their drive and innovation.”
Joel St. Cyr P’20, Babson's head strength and conditioning coach
How did you have to adapt both the workouts and the way you support the student-athletes when the College went remote last March?
“I had to get very creative in the program design because of availability of equipment and resources as kids were (confined to) their house or apartment. I ended up doing over 200 sport-specific videos in my house and outside that only dealt with body weight or using water bottles or a backpack, something the kids could put something heavy in. I was going through the workouts myself shooting the videos, and it ended up working out great. All our student-athletes and coaches for all 22 programs had access to sport-specific programs through Google Drive, and I was able to make adjustments to the progressions and answer any questions or concerns. It was cool that you could communicate with all the kids.”
What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced training Babson’s student-athletes since everyone returned to campus in the fall?
“The structure of everything has changed. We went to six-week training sessions for the student-athletes that were ‘in season,’ and we would try to get them in twice a week for 35 or 45 minutes. The calendar got jammed because we had to split up the bigger teams with the capacity of the Lunder Performance Center being decreased to 21. Programs like baseball and men’s lacrosse had to go in three groups, and we had to streamline the workouts. We also needed 10-15 minutes to clean the room after each workout; we had to check IDs and have the student-athletes walk in a certain way and follow all the rules and regulations. It was very disciplined, and the kids reacted well to it. Having less people in the weight room, I got a chance to work with the kids a bit more individually with form and technique. … The days were long with sometimes 11 or 12 sessions, but I love those situations, thinking on your feet and being agile.”
You spent 20 years as the strength and conditioning coach at Northeastern University. How have training methods changed over the last 30 years?
“Strength and conditioning is a science, and there are a lot of people with ideas. Some old-school techniques have re-emerged, but today it’s a lot of functional training. Injury prevention has become huge, so you’re going after a bunch of different techniques that we can do for flexibility and injury prevention. The science just keeps on growing and growing, and there is so much information out there to stay on top of so you don’t get caught going in just one direction.”
Two More for Joel St. Cyr
What do you enjoy most about working at Babson?
“I love the community, I love the athletics, and I love the history of Babson. A goal that we strive for is that everyone is on the same page and we have a great culture. We have great support, and I love the entrepreneurial spirit of the athletes. They teach me a lot with their drive and innovation. I’m bleeding green right now and want to do anything I can do for the betterment of Babson Athletics.”
Right now, what are you …
- Reading? “When I have a little bit of time, the old spaghetti western fictional pioneering books. I like Louis L’Amour; his books are a quick read.”
- Watching? “Mostly sports, football … and all the local teams, the Celtics and Bruins. Also, a little bit of news.”
- Listening to? “As I’m talking I’m listening to classical music. I do all my work with classical music and listen to it when I’m driving. In the weight room, it’s whatever the kids listen to. I like country music as well.”
- Doing in your free time? “I like doing things around the house, and I really like to smoke meat, pulled pork, whole chickens, and things of that nature. I love cooking; I’m a big cook.”
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