In football, a team’s performance on the field directly correlates with their training and preparation off of the field. When it comes to the physical and mental aspects of the game, a lot of the preparation involves strength and conditioning training. The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions are providential to have their Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Ken Coggins.
Coggins is a renowned veteran strength and conditioning coach who is entering his 30th season in the profession. This upcoming season will be the third that Coggins has been a member of the Golden Lions coaching staff.
The Jackson, Mississippi, native Coggins has had many stops along his coaching journey, including 10 tenures at various colleges and universities. For Coggins, it all started in 1983 as a consultant at the Nautilus Fitness Center in his hometown. During that time he was also a student at Mississippi State University, where he went on to earn his B.A. in Fitness Management and Exercise in 1986. After a few stops as a strength and conditioning coach at Mississippi State University, Delta State University, and the University of Memphis, Coggins came to Arkansas.
From 1990-1995, Coggins took his first job in Arkansas at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock as their head strength and conditioning coach. Twenty years after leaving the state he found himself back in Arkansas, but this time at UAPB.
In 2015 Coggins was hired by the Golden Lions, and since then he’s been all about the black and gold pride. Talking with Coggins, he gave an example of the time frame of his day on the job.
“A typical day for me as the strength and conditioning coach here; I get up around 3 a.m., drive from Little Rock, and the training of the athletes usually starts at 6 a.m.,” Coggins said. “Sometimes I don’t get out of here until 8 p.m. It’s a long day, and I’m usually the first one here.”
On the coaching tree, the strength and conditioning coach should be at the top according to Coggins.
“In the game of football the strength and conditioning coach in my opinion is the most important coach out there,” Coggins said. “You’re dealing with not only the physical aspect, but you’re training the mental aspect of the game. You’re working with sports medicine during practice dealing with injuries and taking them through what we call muscle beats so that they can get back out there.”
During a Golden Lions’ practice, one can’t help but to hear and see Coggins working his way around the field. Coggins brings a necessary energy to the practice field, and it’s something that is contagious to the athletes.
“You can’t be a strength and conditioning coach without the fire everyday,” Coggins said. “It’s fourth and inches all day everyday. When you get up every morning and hit the gym and the practice field your mind has to be totally locked in. They’re going to feed off of what I do, and if I’m not on my game they’re not going to be focused. They watch everything I do, whether it’s a stretch or dealing with a personal issue. I’m with them more than any other coach, I mean all year long. I have the chance to mentor these young kids and make a difference in their lives.”
Coming off of what can surely be considered as a down year for UAPB, the off-season training led by Coggins was refining. Coggins believes the Golden Lions have the right idea of what it’ll take to win, now it’s all about taking action.
“We totally changed the image,” Coggins said. “This summer we had a group of about 30 guys, and we call them the foundation. They did a great job, and we’re teaching these young people how to work. I hope that they’re buying in, and we have to continue to push them harder and harder. We made a lot of progress, we have a long way to go, but we’re making progress. The only way we’ll get there is if we work, we have to outwork our opponent every single day.”