This week we have a special guest with us, Scott Kuehn, wide receiver for Illinois State University. Scott has been one of our early beta testers - on top of providing us with some practical feedback, he’s also a super smart dude. Read on to find out what a college athlete goes through on a typical day, how Scott puts his team’s goals ahead of his own and who he thinks is the best athlete in the NFL today (if you’re a football fan, you can probably guess his answer).
Scott, thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. We’ve had some coaches join us before but I think this is the first athlete we’ve interviewed. Can you start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
Thank you for inviting me to do this, Matt. Currently, I’m heading into my fifth year at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. This upcoming year, I’ll be completing a degree in exercise science and playing wide receiver on the football team. Growing up, I played a huge variety of sports, including soccer, basketball, swimming, gymnastics, track & field, baseball, and of course, football. I was always playing 3 or 4 sports a year until I decided I wanted to specialize my training in football beginning my sophomore year of high school. That’s when I really began to make strides in my athletic fitness levels. I will say that playing a variety of sports for so long laid a great foundation to be a successful football player. I knew that once I lost interest in those other sports, it was time for me to focus my attention and effort on football, and the process of training for football.
So you’re a football wide receiver at Illinois State University, that must be pretty demanding. Walk us through a typical day as a varsity athlete.
It’s funny, because I’m actually completely finished with my program and only have 1 elective credit hour remaining, so I only have one class this fall to maintain my eligibility for football, which is a bowling class (yes, JUST a bowling class), but I’ll talk about what a typical day looked like for me in-season last fall.
During the season, days will begin around 7am for me, as I would get up and have to eat for an 8am class. I would have class from about 8-10am, then head over to the football building to watch some film before I lift for an hour till about 12pm, then I’d head off to another class till 1pm, grab some food before practice and be taped and in meetings by 2pm. Meetings would go till 3:15pm, and then we’d be on the field for practice from 3:30 till about 6pm or earlier, depending on the day. By the time I’ve taken an ice bath, showered, and gotten ice for any sore areas, it’s about 6:30pm, and then I would grab dinner and be back at my apartment around 7:30pm. At that point, it’s homework time, or if I’m lucky enough to not have homework, I have some free time to hang out with my roommates watching TV or playing video games, to program for my athletes I train, or I would read a lot of sport science books too, before heading to bed around 10:30pm so I can repeat that schedule the next day.
At least bowling will help relieve the pressures of football! I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus but do any of your teammates slack off during training?
We’ve really prided ourselves on being a hard working team this year, especially after the disappointing loss that ended our 2013 season. I think losing that game and having it put us under .500 for the first time in our head coach’s tenure at ISU left a really bad taste in everyone’s mouth, and everyone’s just put their head down and worked since then. We’re expecting some big things for this upcoming season, needless to say.
Sounds like the commitment is there, looking forward to seeing you guys in action. Ok so what about you - what are some of your own aspirations as a football player?
Right now the only goals I have are for the team to win conference and national championships this year. Bringing both of those to ISU would be a great culmination of the five years of hard work that my teammates and I have been putting in since we all got here in 2010. On a personal level, I would love to surprise a lot of people and finish out as an all-conference player, as well as some kind of all-conference academic accolade. Beyond that, it’d be a childhood dream come true to make it to the NFL, but I hate to look ahead that far because I want to keep my focus on what I have in front of me, which is ISU and our journey towards conference and national championships.
I’m sure all the hard work will pay off for you Scott. It must be tough to have a balanced life - not only are you a student athlete, but you’re also a strength & conditioning coach, do you even have a social life?
Haha, not really! I will go out occasionally just for the sake of seeing other people, but it’s not something I prioritize in my weekly life, because I’d usually rather be sleeping or crashed on the couch watching Netflix. It’s a tiresome schedule, but I wouldn’t burden myself with all of it if they weren’t things I enjoy doing.
Well said. You’re studying sport science and you must do a lot of reading, do you challenge some of your strength coaches in the weight room?
All of the mentors I’ve had in the field have stressed to me how important it is to question everything you do in this field, and I really do enjoy trying to understand why my coaches do certain things in the weight room. It’s not a disrespectful interaction; it’s just me trying to understand their methods and seeing what I can take away from them to apply to my still-growing philosophy. I don’t believe in taking on one person’s entire philosophy; I would rather take the strong points of every coach I encounter’s philosophy and use it to build my own, novel philosophy.
So how does the training program for a football player differ from other team sports like basketball or baseball?
I think training for football requires a large amount of mental toughness training in the form of very physically demanding or competitive workouts, where players just have to grind out the work and break through some of the mental barriers they may have in their head. I say that with reserve, because we have seen in some cases where these “mental toughness” workouts go over the edge into significant health complications, such as rhabdomyolysis or orthopedic injuries, and the last thing you want to do as a strength coach is impose disease or harm on the athletes you work with. Tools like the Prowler or pulling sleds, hill runs, or football-based drills such as mat drills, or agility bag drills are great ways to incorporate some of those “mental toughness” metabolic conditioning days with very little risk of harm.
Agreed, I think it’s important for most athletes to battle through those mental barriers. Ok, let’s have a little fun to finish off, who is the best athlete in the NFL today? And why?
It’s tough to say this as a Chicago Bears fan, but I have to go with Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions. Being 6’5, 235lbs and running a 4.3, jumping over 40 inches, and having the body control in the air that he has to twist and contort himself to make any catch is just downright freakish. It’s just an extremely rare combination of size and athleticism that makes him one of the best athletes of the modern generation; truly incredible to watch in action.
Funny that you chose a receiver ;). Thanks for taking the time to chat Scott and good luck next season!
Thank you for having me to do this. The PUSH band has been an incredibly fun device to test out as an athlete, and show off to my teammates. I can’t wait for the official release! And thank you, I’m looking forward to a strong season to finish out my college career on! Go Redbirds!
You can follow Scott on twitter by clicking here.