Jan 27, 2016
Strength Coach Talks Winning, Work-Life Balance

Walt Heinecke, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for Winston-Salem State University, may have a large workload when dealing with over 200 athletes, but he is also one of the few strength and conditioning coaches in NCAA Division II who is not also an assistant coach.

As reported in The Winston-Salem Journal, Heinecke said this is because WSSU is not solely focused on football. When he was hired, Heinecke was asked to work with all teams. And that strategy has paid off, with 12 conference titles over the past four years. 

“Everything we do is very intentional,” Tonia Walker, athletics director for WSSU, said. “When you put the support structure in place from everything from marketing to strength and conditioning it all adds up to those successes.”

In addition to training WSSU’s teams, Heinecke teaches three morning classes, resulting in a long work day that often begins at 5 a.m. and continues until after 6 p.m. Outside of work, Heinecke and his wife, Katie, have a six-month-old baby, which further challenges him to manage his time well.

“It’s a balancing act for sure,” Heinecke said. “I can sometimes get home for lunch and give Katie a break with the baby, but during football season I’m gone a lot of the weekends because we also practice on Sundays.”

Heinecke said he enjoys seeing athletes develop themselves and win championships. He would like a larger weight room or an assistant, but he is happy to be working with a supportive coaching staff.

“The coaches have all bought into what we want to accomplish together and that’s great because then the athletes follow,” Heinecke said. “And when the athletes get excited about it everything comes a little easier. I mean, it’s not easy to get up in the morning and come over here and run the Bowman Gray Stadium steps but they do it.”

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