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Steffen working at Sioux Falls as strength coach

Mount Vernon native Jake Steffen plays in a game for the South Dakota State University football team. Steffen now works for the University of Sioux Falls as a strength coach. (Photo courtesy of South Dakota State University sports information)

There are many elements of college athletics. There is the classroom, the field or court and the gym, just to name a few.

As a former South Dakota State University football player, Jake Steffen is familiar with all of those. Now, Steffen is getting accustomed to working with athletes, rather than being one.

Steffen, a 2007 graduate of Mount Vernon High School, is in his first year as the assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Sioux Falls. His job is to help athletes at the NCAA Division II school get bigger, better, stronger and faster.

"I was always interested in this kind of field," Steffen said. "I enjoy the aspect of not only training the athletes physically, but in a mental capacity as well."

As a strength and conditioning coach, Steffen is responsible for motivating athletes to push themselves. At USF, the 24-year-old currently works with football, men's and women's soccer, volleyball, baseball, men's and women's basketball and softball.

"It is a lot of work, and a lot of time, but that is the nature of our work. We work from 5:30 in the morning until 7:30 at night," Steffen said. "There is a lot more to what I do than just teaching the proper bench press and squat."

Long hours and hard work is nothing new for Steffen, who is currently pursuing his master's in business administration and health care management.

While in high school, Steffen played football, baseball, track and basketball. He was named The Daily Republic's football player of the year in 2006.

After a standout high school career, Steffen enrolled at SDSU, where he was a starting defensive end for three years. He played for the Jackrabbits from 2008 to 2011.

"Being a college athlete is a lot more than Xs and Os," he said. "It's a family, it's a job and it's a business."

During his time as a student-athlete, Steffen played for football coach Joe Stiegelmeier, who is second all-time in career wins at SDSU.

"Playing for him was a life-changing event for me," Steffen said. "He not only trained us as athletes, but he trained us how to be leaders."

Upon receiving his master's, Steffen wants to fulfill his dream of becoming a strength and conditioning coach at an NCAA Division I school or utilize his degree in the health care management field.