Olympic bobsledder Adam Clark has been training in ETSU's facilities this week.
Dr. Brad DeWeese said he gets patriotic in the midst of the work he does with U.S. Olympians at East Tennessee State University.
Overseeing the training of sometimes two dozen Olympic hopefuls competing in bobsled and canoe and kayaking, DeWeese said he frequently lets the athletes he works with know the magnitude of their involvement in international competition.
“The country is on your back,” DeWeese says to his trainees. “You get to go out and compete for those who can’t.”
Also an assistant professor at ETSU, DeWeese, an Asheville, North Carolina, native, doesn’t work a typical 40-hour-per-week job, and he’s constantly honing his craft to give his athletes the very highest level of training possible. That being said, it’s not necessarily as cut and dried as winning and losing.
He said when he started working with the Olympic athletes who will bounce around from site to site in the U.S., completing training along the way, the accolades and medals his athletes would garner would be the most important thing to him years ago because it was linked to his job and livelihood. That’s changed over the last 10 years.
“Now it’s about the relationships I’ve formed with the athletes I work with,” DeWeese said.
One meaningful relationship he’s had over about the last three years has been with Adam Clark, who frequents USA Bobsled’s international teams in recent World Championships and Olympic Games and has been training in ETSU’s facilities this week.
DeWeese, who works with some of the most cutting-edge technology, testing and training methods for Olympians at ETSU, said his involvement in sports science is more fulfilling than he could explain. Always doing research and keeping up with the latest in training the highest-level athletes, DeWeese uses ETSU’s athletic capabilities to their fullest extent.
“Without a doubt, Brad’s the most experienced coach I’ve ever worked with,” Clark said. “He doesn’t do anything not backed by science.”
As a professional athlete who technically only competes in a winter sport but trains year-round, Clark needs to rely solely on his performances to make a living, which puts a lot of pressure on his coaches. He’s found himself in a position where he completely trusts DeWeese to coach him to his fullest potential.
Being a professional bobsledder requires quite a bit of Clark’s body, though his six-foot, 3-inch, 220-pound frame does well for intense two-a-day workout sessions, organized around naps and meals totalling 5,000 calories a day. The 29-year-old Kentucky native was recruited to Centre University to play football, but found his way to the track team as a jumper. Clearing 6 feet, 4 inches in the high jump, 23 feet in the long jump and completing the 110-meter hurdles in 14-mid, Clark had the athleticism to transition well into bobsledding.
“With Adam, he was unique in that he made the World Championship team in his first year,” DeWeese said. “That’s unheard of for a rookie.”
He continued to take to the sport well, training much of the year in Lake Placid, New York, where the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Games were held. Beginning in 2011, he became a staple push man for U.S. teams and hasn’t looked back since recently competing in the Sochi Winter Olympics in February. Atypical of Clark’s schedule was a break from training after the Olympics.
“I get four weeks off in March and I don’t go to the gym at all,” Clark said.
A few months later, though, Clark was pounding the weights in ETSU’s mini dome, saying he was about to start his hardest training block in recent years. He expects to be run down under DeWeese’s training regimen, but knows it’s all in the cards for his future success.
When he’s out there, making runs in the bobsled, Clark said it can get frightening, but says his intuition lets him know if he’s about to crash or keep the bobsled under control. As fast as he’s traveled in a bobsled, occasionally reaching speeds in the low-90 mph range, Clark said he’s never hit his head in the eight times he’s crashed and doesn’t concern himself with concussions, though he acknowledges the danger and excitement in his sport.
“It’s scary fast,” he said.
To follow Clark, you can find him on Twitter.