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Boys Of Steel
Lisa Altobelli
October 30, 2006
An Ohio football power benefits from a strength coach's creative approach
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October 30, 2006

Boys Of Steel

An Ohio football power benefits from a strength coach's creative approach

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ST. XAVIER

Cincinnati

PUSHING VANS, flipping gargantuan tractor tires and lifting kegs are the typical events in a strongman competition--and in a workout devised by Carlo Alvarez, a former major league strength coach who trains student-athletes at St. Xavier in Cincinnati, including its nationally-ranked (No. 9) football team.

"[Because] they're high school kids," says Alvarez (below), who left the Cincinnati Reds to take over as the Bombers' strength coach before the team's undefeated season in 2005, "you have to break up the monotony of the weight room and keep things interesting."

Top high school athletic programs have been focusing more on conditioning, and St. Xavier employs a nutritionist as well as Alvarez, who has devised a five-day-a-week in-season training program for the football team. Alvarez comes to the all-boys' Jesuit school after working with athletes at Notre Dame and the Cleveland Indians in addition to the Reds. He had run St. Xavier's weight program from 1996 to '98 while earning an exercise science degree at Cincinnati. "I wanted to try high school, college and pro," says Alvarez, 34. "After doing all three, I realized my passion was training younger athletes."

"Since Carlo came back, we've been the best-conditioned team on the field and also the most flexible," says Steve Specht, coach of the 7--1 Bombers. "We had kids who could bench-press a lot but couldn't move. Now they can." Senior cornerback Jon Saelinger (above, 22), who is 6 feet, 185 pounds, and junior running back Darius Ashley (5'9", 180) have each dropped their time in the 40-yard dash from 4.7 to 4.4 since Alvarez arrived, while also gaining 25 pounds of muscle. "The 300-yard sprints are the worst," says Ashley. "Guys throw up after those. But we trust Coach Alvarez. He makes us better athletes. Plus, he makes things fun."

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