Dan Linsacum building a better breed of Mavs

Colorado Mesa University head strength and conditioning coach Dan Linsacum came to the school just before it became a university, and has been a big part of the Mavericks’ growing sports programs. Colorado Mesa didn’t always have a specialized full-time strength and conditioning coach, but Linsacum is proving the position is well worth the time and effort. Linsacum is responsible for the health of nearly 800 student-athletes.



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Colorado Mesa University head strength and conditioning coach Dan Linsacum came to the school just before it became a university, and has been a big part of the Mavericks’ growing sports programs. Colorado Mesa didn’t always have a specialized full-time strength and conditioning coach, but Linsacum is proving the position is well worth the time and effort. Linsacum is responsible for the health of nearly 800 student-athletes.

Dan Linsacum points out a quote from Vince Lombardi painted on the wall of the Mavericks’ weight room at Saunders Fieldhouse. Words can be a strong motivator, as Linsacum expresses on a daily basis. Linsacum once opened up a personal training business called FITS, which stands for Functioning Intense Training System. “I like acronyms,” Linsacum said. “I think they’re powerful.”



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Dan Linsacum points out a quote from Vince Lombardi painted on the wall of the Mavericks’ weight room at Saunders Fieldhouse. Words can be a strong motivator, as Linsacum expresses on a daily basis. Linsacum once opened up a personal training business called FITS, which stands for Functioning Intense Training System. “I like acronyms,” Linsacum said. “I think they’re powerful.”

Dan Linsacum leads members of the CMU men’s golf team, reflected in mirror, through a series of exercises in the university’s varsity weight room.



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Dan Linsacum leads members of the CMU men’s golf team, reflected in mirror, through a series of exercises in the university’s varsity weight room.

Head strength and conditioning coach Dan Linsacum straightens out the leg of a member of the Colorado Mesa University golf team during a workout in the Mavs’ weight room.



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Head strength and conditioning coach Dan Linsacum straightens out the leg of a member of the Colorado Mesa University golf team during a workout in the Mavs’ weight room.

Dan Linsacum is building “Maverick Strength” at Colorado Mesa University. Many Colorado Mesa athletes are told previous Mavericks didn’t face as strong a workload before Linsacum.



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Dan Linsacum is building “Maverick Strength” at Colorado Mesa University. Many Colorado Mesa athletes are told previous Mavericks didn’t face as strong a workload before Linsacum.

Colorado Mesa men’s basketball player Shawn King leaps onto a platform as strength and conditioning coach Dan Linsacum, right, looks on during an early morning working.



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Colorado Mesa men’s basketball player Shawn King leaps onto a platform as strength and conditioning coach Dan Linsacum, right, looks on during an early morning working.

QUICKREAD

Daniel Linsacum looked at area sports competition levels over the past 20 years and saw a somewhat disturbing pattern for the Western Slope.

High schools and colleges on the Western Slope were relatively dominant in the 1990s. Linsacum cited football coach Joe Ramunno’s four consecutive championships with Palisade High School.

But not so much since. Linsacum said he’s seen how technology such as the Internet and online marketing has negatively affected the Western Slope’s farming culture and the associated hard labor.

“So as this technology has come, we’ve gotten away from that,” Linsacum said. “Farm labor is what built strength for athletes here for many years.”

So Linsacum has incorporated workouts that resemble hard labor. Instead of the structured workouts that typically involve simply squatting and bench press, Linsacum will begin building athletes’ muscle using lower weights. “Kids aren’t doing pushups and body-weight stuff at a younger age,” Linsacum said.

Some of the exercises are similar to pilates. Others may involve rotating sets of pushups, pull-ups and squats. Some of Linsacum’s athletes said they will stretch in between sets. And the new regime has seemed to help CMU with its rising athletic success in some sports.

“I’m lucky to be at the heart of the athletic program where the sweat and tears and blood and all that is put in to make the article, to be in the newspaper,” Linsacum said, “and to have these successful basketball teams. And I don’t think that takes place if we’re not conditioning and training them they way we are.”



In the constantly changing field of strength and conditioning, Daniel Linsacum brought even more change to Colorado Mesa University, staying ahead of the trends like a kayaker out-paddling a current.

In the fall of 2009, Linsacum became Mesa’s first full-time strength and conditioning coach, bringing techniques he discovered on the Front Range, and even in Mexico, to the Western Slope.

He was born in Montrose, graduated from Moffat County High School in Craig and Mesa State College, where in 2002 as an inside linebacker he helped lead the Mavericks to a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship.

So the passion is not fabricated.

“I’d like to say I bring a passion to this because I care about the school in general,” Linsacum said. “As far as strength and conditioning, I felt the Western Slope had fallen apart a little bit compared to other parts of the state, mostly the Front Range. I wanted to help impact that.”

Linsacum arrived just before Mesa became a university, and before the school went from 17 varsity sports and about 400 athletes to the current 23 varsity sports and nearly 800 athletes, according to Linsacum’s numbers. Now, following a winter in which the men’s and women’s basketball teams were particularly successful, Linsacum is the axis of Mesa’s burgeoning sports programs.

The advantages of having a specialized full-time strength and conditioning coach, instead of, say, an assistant football coach, is perhaps hard to quantify.

“I think it’s almost immeasurable the advantage it gives you,” Mesa men’s basketball coach Jim Heaps said. “The strength, the power, the explosiveness, all those things, is just so important.”

Linsacum has implemented the philosophy of the CrossFit workout program which, according to http://www.crossfit.com, is used by many police academies, tactical operations teams, military special operating units, martial artists and others.

Katrina Selsor, a senior on the women’s basketball team, has noticed a big difference in her workouts after transferring from Colorado State University-Pueblo.

“They didn’t have a strength and conditioning coach,” Selsor said. “So it definitely helps to get faster, stronger.”

Although the principles of getting stronger, faster and more flexible and agile are the same across all sports, each coach meets with Linsacum to discuss a workout program that meets the coaches’ conditioning plans.

For Ron Allen, Mesa’s first-year head swimming and diving coach, it is the first time in his coaching career he’s worked with a full-time strength coach. The Mavericks swimmers in the winter sent four divers and two swimmers to the Division II national championships in Birmingham, Ala.

“(Linsacum) brings a lot of the CrossFit philosophy and I love that,” Allen said.

In the Colorado Mesa University weight room one day last month, women’s soccer and track and field athletes took positions in rows and columns across, squatting, lifting and pushing. And listening to Linsacum.

It’s the same with the football team.

“He’ll walk around the room, screaming in your ears,” said CMU defensive lineman Ryan Sivetts. “It pumps you up a little bit.”

“He’s an athlete’s coach,” CMU fullback and defensive tackle Zach Beach said. “When you’re lifting, he’ll get in the nitty gritty with you.”

The path for Linsacum to his current position was a twisting one. In 2004, he moved to Denver and took a job in pharmaceutical sales. “I liked the idea of the salary and the new car,” Linsacum said. “But that didn’t make me happy.”

So he left that job and became the manager of Matrix Fitness and Spa in downtown Denver. Linsacum said he and the owers “had a little spat ... and the club wasn’t doing all that well.”

So he left that, too.

“Some part of me felt like I failed different ventures because I didn’t stay long enough,” Linsacum said. “But the other aspect is I know I learned what I needed to learn and it was time to move on.”

So he opened up a personal training business called FITS, which stands for Functioning Intense Training System. “I like acronyms,” Linsacum said. “I think they’re powerful.”

Soon, however, Linsacum’s girlfriend at the time was moving to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, to be a consultant for a family that had opened a gym. In 2007, Linsacum went along to consult as well. They finished the job of helping get them gym established, then opened a gym that Linsacum said was a competitor of the gym they had just consulted.

But Linsacum lived there just five months. Enough with Mexico.

So he moved to Denver where he lived for a few months, then moved back to Grand Junction in 2008 and began his personal training business BEAST (Body Efficiency Agility Strength Training) and began working with athletes at Fruita Monument High School and Moffat County High School.

The CMU strength and conditioning job opened up in 2009.

Finally, Linsacum was ready to settle down.

“From what I’ve heard from a lot of the older guys,” said Cody Daniels, a freshman safety for the football team, “they really hadn’t worked out this hard and they like it. They’re bigger, faster and stronger and ready to come out and win the RMAC.”

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