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“The Strength of Nebraska”: Boyd Epley, Husker Power, and the Formation of the Strength Coaching Profession

Shurley, Jason P.1; Todd, Jan S.2

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: December 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 12 - p 3177–3188
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31823c4690
Original Research

Abstract: Shurley, JP, and Todd, JS. “The Strength of Nebraska”: Boyd Epley, Husker Power, and the Formation of the Strength Coaching Profession. J Strength Cond Res 26(12): 3177–3188, 2012—Boyd Epley was hired as the first full-time strength and conditioning coach at the University of Nebraska in 1969. Epley's hiring was the result of his extensive knowledge of strength training, an injury, and several disappointing seasons for the Cornhusker football team. An enterprising young coach, Tom Osborne, recognized that injured football players who trained with Epley, then an injured varsity pole-vaulter, returned to the team stronger than when they left. Osborne and Epley were able to convince head football coach and athletic director, Bob Devaney, that his belief that weight training was detrimental to athletic performance was unfounded. After starting the Husker Power program, Epley consistently worked to make it more scientific and specific to the demands of football. The results of Epley's work speak for themselves, over a career that spanned 35 years, football teams under his tutelage recorded 356 wins, 5 national championships, and a host of national player of the year award winners. In addition to his work as a practitioner of strength and conditioning, Epley also played an integral role in organizing a disparate group of individuals into a recognizable profession. He was the driving force in founding the National Strength and Conditioning Association in 1978. The organization would go on to fund and disseminate research in the field, resulting in the highly skilled practitioners of strength and conditioning practicing today.

1Department of Kinesiology, Concordia University, Austin, Texas

2Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas

Address correspondence to Jan S. Todd, j.todd@austin.utexas.edu.

© 2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association