If Nate Jenkins was asked to write the obligatory “What I did during my summer vacation” essay, he would have quite a story to tell.
His narrative would be littered with the names of professional football players, all of whom he met and worked with during a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald’s camp for NFL athletes.
Not your usual summer camp
Fitzgerald, a wide receiver who has amassed 59 touchdowns and totaled 523 receptions for 7,067 yards during his six-season career as an Arizona Cardinal, invites players to come to his hometown of Deluth, Minnesota for an intensive week of agility, footwork, and conditioning drills before team training camps begin in August.
This year, in addition to professionals like Cleveland Browns’ Wide Receiver Bobby Engram, Minnesota Vikings’ Quarterback Tavaris Jackson, and Seattle Seahawks’ Wide Receiver Golden Tate, Jenkins, a health and exercise science major from Messiah College, was on the field.
Jenkins, entering his senior year, was invited to participate in the camp through a connection Scott Kieffer, professor of health and exercise physiology, has with his former student Bill Welle, Fitzgerald’s trainer. Kieffer attended the camp as well.
While this was certainly a great resume-building opportunity, Jenkins is no stranger to working with professional athletes. For the past two summers, Jenkins has worked with the former strength and conditioning coach of the Baltimore Orioles and has run the strength and conditioning program for Ripken Baseball, an organization dedicated to expanding the presence of baseball worldwide.
About his time at Fitzgerald’s camp, Jenkins says, “I was coaching during the speed, agility, and conditioning drills: giving tips and correcting techniques to maximize their performance and given them an edge when they get on the field.”
In addition to coaching, Jenkins also got to test some state of the art equipment at a Sports Medicine Clinic. Most memorable was an Alter-G treadmill developed by NASA that can simulate running in the absence of gravity by removing anywhere from 1-80% of the participant’s bodyweight.