Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Faces of lockout: Patriots' strength coach
By Mike Reiss
Harold Nash is still waiting to make an impact as New England's head strength and conditioning coach.
The NFL lockout has put players and owners in limbo. The ripple effects are also felt by people whose lives or businesses touch their teams. Here are their stories:
Most would agree that all NFL coaches have their work cut out for them because of the lockout. Getting rookies up to speed quickly is going to be an immense challenge once the time comes to play football.
For Harold Nash, some might say the challenge is doubled.
Not only is the 41-year-old Nash in his first season as the Patriots’ head strength and conditioning coach, he also assists in the coordination of the team’s player-development programs that help rookies transition to the NFL.
At a time like this, Nash would be establishing a foundation for the type of strength program he planned to oversee in taking over for Mike Woicik, who held the position the past 11 years and owns six Super Bowl rings (three with Dallas in the 1990s, three with New England in the 2000s). He’d also be influencing this year’s rookie class through his work in player-development programs, which are considered Super Bowl quality in NFL circles.
The Patriots’ financial education program was recognized as the NFL’s best three times in the previous four years. In 2009-2010, the club was recognized with the Outstanding Overall Player Development Award.
Each year, the NFL presents awards to teams' player development departments in the areas of financial education, continuing education, career development and life skills. The Outstanding Overall Player Development Award honors the club that excels most in all four areas.
But when there’s a lockout, the opportunities for player development are locked out, too.
As for Nash, he has the type of background in football that Patriots coach Bill Belichick appreciates. He walked on at the University of Southwestern Louisiana and played defensive back for four seasons, ultimately being named a team captain and earning the Cajun Spring Training Award from the coaching staff in recognition of his work ethic.
Nash signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 1993, before landing in the Canadian Football League, where he played from 1994-2004 and was a three-time all-star. During his CFL career, Nash was an assistant to speed coach Tom Shaw, helping college defensive backs in preparation for the NFL draft.
Nash joined the Patriots as an assistant strength and conditioning coach in 2005, and after six seasons in that role, he was promoted this offseason.
But because of the lockout, Nash hasn’t yet had the chance to fully make his mark.