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Nate Skidmore ’18 - A Passion for Injury Prevention Training

SUNY Potsdam exercise science major Nate Skidmore ’18 was immediately awestruck when New Jersey Devils starting goalie Cory Schneider—his idol for more than a decade—walked into Mike Boyle’s Strength & Conditioning facility during the first day of his summer internship.

Skidmore, a goalie on the SUNY Potsdam Bears men’s hockey team, is in the midst of an intensive 10-week long internship, running from June 12 to Aug. 21, at Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning in Middleton, Mass. As one of just 20 interns selected from a pool of more than 200 applicants, he has been working with middle school students and collegiate athletes, while also observing professional athletes training with company founder Mike Boyle, as part of a 500-hour, hands-on learning experience. Boyle is one of the foremost experts in strength and conditioning, having worked with everyone from high school athletes, to college athletes, to professional players and Olympians.

Skidmore wakes up every morning at 5 a.m. and makes the drive from Tufts University in Boston to the training facility in Middleton. After arriving at 6:30 a.m. he meets with other interns from as far away as Japan, Hungary and Brazil to discuss coaching techniques for the day. He in turn trains middle school students later that day—one of his favorite parts of the internship.

“There was one moment a few days ago where I taught a kid how to hang clean,” Skidmore said. “Hang clean is a very complex Olympic lift that takes a lot of years to become an expert at, and it’s also the hardest to teach as a coach. I was able to get a kid to do it in 10 minutes and I was really happy about that…When you see it click, and the light bulb goes off and all of a sudden you see them smile and they’re enjoying training, you did your job,” Skidmore said.

When Boyle works with professional athletes, Skidmore observes the process and uses that knowledge while training other athletes in the facility. “I get to see the art of coaching and how to develop pro athletes…When I go to my middle schoolers, I’m like ‘OK, I know what Brian Flynn from the Montreal Canadiens looked like when he was doing this lift, so I want my middle schooler to get to that point,’” Skidmore said.

As an exercise science student, one of his greatest concerns is injury prevention. Skidmore sees this as the key to better performance and he hopes to incorporate that more into the athletic mindset at SUNY Potsdam. He said that last year SUNY Potsdam’s soccer team experienced a number of injuries, and that there were a number of other ligament issues on campus, including a defenseman on his hockey team who tore his Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL). This fall he hopes to start a strength and conditioning club on campus to address student injury concerns.

Skidmore pointed to a study that found a direct correlation between a team’s win-loss record and injuries. “They looked at the Golden State Warriors, who just won the championship in the NBA, and the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, and they found out they had the least man-games lost. Which means they had the least athletes injured throughout the year. So, injury prevention actually correlates with wins and losses. If you prevent injury you actually improve performance, because athletes can play more. They gain more skills, so if you keep them in the game, you’re going to win more games,” Skidmore said.

He hopes that SUNY Potsdam’s athletes will start using foam rollers on a more regular basis as part of their training regimen. The technique helps to stretch muscles and acts as a sponge to remove toxins from muscles, and in turn prevent injuries. “I could sit down with every single coach and teach them how to foam roll in 30 minutes…We have amazing facilities. We have amazing coaches. We have a great atmosphere and an awesome location, and I want the best for it. I think we’re missing a piece and I want to bring that missing piece to Potsdam,” Skidmore said.

Before attending SUNY Potsdam, Skidmore played junior hockey for two years. It was during that time that he worked with strength coaches and discovered his passion for strength and conditioning. When he heard about SUNY Potsdam’s exercise science program, he knew it would be a good fit for him. “My first semester, I took personal training with Tanya Hewitt and I fell in love with it right away,” Skidmore recalls.

He will be working with Mike Boyle for a few more weeks before heading back to Potsdam for the fall semester. He said that he learns something new every day while working with Boyle and that it’s been a dream come true. “I hope to really build off this experience for the future…it’s been amazing, it’s honestly life-changing,” Skidmore concluded.