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Dakota Wesleyan University strength and conditioning coach Kyle Hobbs, back, talks to DWU men's basketball player Luke Bamberg, front, Tuesday during a workout at the Christen Family Wellness Center. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)

Hobbs bringing focus to DWU training

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Strength and conditioning for a college athletics program goes beyond building muscle and getting stronger.

Dakota Wesleyan University had a broader picture in mind when bringing in strength and conditioning coach Kyle Hobbs in November to work with the school men's and women's teams.

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Hobbs, a native of Sergeant Bluff, Iowa., believes his work will help Tiger athletes perform better on the field, while helping to prevent injuries.

"During the interview process coming in, (DWU) made it very clear it wanted this to be a long term thing," Hobbs said. "The number and severity of the injuries and the lack of focus in the training room were all things that needed to be changed."

When looking at big schools across the country, Hobbs said they have large amounts of money invested in strength and conditioning, which is something he is familiar with.

Before making the move to Mitchell with his wife, Ashley, and daughter, Nora, Hobbs worked as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the University of Delaware and did his graduate assistant work at the University of Georgia. He also spent time working with teams at the University of Nebraska and Iowa State University.

"By strengthening an athlete, you will make them more powerful, make them perform better on the field and more resilient to injury," Hobbs said. "Say you have a great athlete and they get injured in a way that could have been avoided, then what does that do to a program?"

DWU never had a strength and conditioning coach and the response from the players and coaches has been positive, according to Hobbs. He added he knows of only three other Great Plains Athletic Conference schools with a strength and conditioning program.

DWU men's basketball coach Matt Wilber said it's difficult to get all players to buy into a strength and conditioning coach because the position calls for a strong hand and toughness, which can be offputting to some athletes. Wilber said his players have bought in completely and many have stayed in Mitchell over the summer to work with Hobbs in the training room in preparation for next season.

"With regards to our men's basketball program, we have seen increases in our strength and conditioning that have been noticeable already," Wilber said. "We have guys who have put on 15 to 20 pounds in the offseason. I can't say enough about what Kyle has done since coming here."

Hobbs said the discipline issues he faced with the NCAA Division I athletes at Delaware and Georgia have not been a part of his experience with the athletes at DWU, as the dedication from the Tigers has been strong. The players at DWU are paying to go to school and play a sport, so that dedication is built in, Hobbs added.

Hobbs' schedule with each team is different depending on which sports are in season. During the school year, teams involved in regular training with Hobbs meet on average twice per week, while three to four weekly meetings take place in the offseason.

"When we train now in the offseason, there is a purpose to it and it's not just go in and train," DWU football player Francois Barnaud said about the impact Hobbs has made with the Tigers.

Barnaud is part of an internship program with Hobbs, who will also have the aid of a graduate assistant this year.

"I keep telling people that I want this to the be the best strength and conditioning program for NAIA throughout the country," Hobbs said.

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