Wounded Warrior Training with Kansas Athletics[MIGRATE]

By Jayhawks Athletics | July 23, 2013

Kansas Assistant Athletics Director for Sport Performance, Andrea Hudy, as well as the University of Kansas Health, Sports and Exercise Science Department is hosting Marine Sgt. Michael Pride this week for instruction and conditioning on the KU campus. Sgt. Pride, who was a member of and is now a coach for the Armed Services’ Wounded Warrior Project, is working with Hudy and her strength and conditioning staff to learn techniques and philosophies of training that can be transferred to his athletes at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo.

The Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science and Office of Graduate Military Programs coordinated Pride’s visit to KU. While on the hill, Pride has visited classrooms and worked with faculty, as well as Hudy and the KU Athletics strength and conditioning coaches, to get tips on everything from motivating athletes to coaching philosophies and strength and conditioning to recovering from athletic injuries.

“It’s been great getting to know Coach Hudy,” said the Kansas City, Mo., native. “She has the mentality of a Marine; that’s why I’ve clicked and worked so well with her during my time here.”

Pride, a 33-year-old Marine, was severely wounded and his platoon sergeant killed when their combat vehicles struck an improvised explosive device while in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While recovering he became involved with the Wounded Warrior track and field team and competed in the inaugural Wounded Warrior Games, an event that brings wounded veterans across military branches together in Olympic-style competition. Now reporting to Motor Transport Instruction Company at Ft. Leonard Wood as an instructor, he is also acting as an assistant coach for the Wounded Warrior All-Marine Team.

“What he’s gone through and the stories he’s told our athletes have been so inspiring,” said Hudy, now in her ninth year at KU. “The leadership and perseverance qualities he carries with him are great models for our student-athletes. We are learning as much from him as he is from us.”

Kansas Athletics hasn’t been Pride’s only exposure during his time in Lawrence. He took part in a sport management class taught by Dr. Bernie Kish, lecturer in sport management; and a sport psychology class taught by Dr. Scott Ward, associate athletic director for academic counseling. He also found time to take in a coaching seminar facilitated by Kish. KU coaches Ray Bechard, Mark Francis, Clark Campbell, Norm Roberts, Hudy and Bill Cowgill, associate director of sports medicine, shared their philosophy of coaching, mentoring and motivating young people.

In addition to spending several days coaching and mentoring Sgt. Pride, Hudy was invited by the Marine Corps for a day-long trip to Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., where she hosted a coaching and leadership clinic with Marine Corps Staff in charge of training thousands of Marines. Considered one of the nation’s top collegiate coaches, Hudy was named the 2012-13 NSCA National College Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year. Since arriving at Kansas in 2004, Hudy has seen nine of her Jayhawk pupils drafted into the NBA.

“Everything she says just makes sense,” explained Sgt. Pride on working with Hudy. “You can see the result of her process on all the athletes here at KU. I will take everything that she’s given me and try to pass on to the Marines I teach and coach.”

Phill Vardiman, assistant professor for the Health, Sport and Exercise Sciences Department at KU, was one of many people who organized the event and made Sgt. Pride’s visit to Lawrence a success. While he may be a Mizzou fan at heart, Vardiman and the Jayhawk staff that worked with Pride were happy to help pay him back in a small way for the great sacrifice to his country.

“Sgt. Pride is here because he wants to be a better coach,” Vardiman said. “And he has the full support of the Marines, who want to continue to win the Wounded Warrior Games. I told him ‘you may still be a MU fan when you leave here, but you’ll be part of the KU family.’”