The man behind the medals

Alumnus helps athletes go for the gold

Rob-Schwartz

By: Bridget Tharp

As a strength coach with the United States Olympic Committee, Rob Schwartz '00, Colorado Springs, Colo., helped at least 30 Olympians to capture medals this summer games. He was busy behind the scenes of the London 2012 Olympics, a decade after his first job as a strength coach for Falcon Athletics.

"I try to teach them the intangibles of discipline, intensity, and work ethic through leading by example."He trains athletes in combat and acrobatic sports, including the most famous competitors in wrestling, gymnastics and boxing, and those involved in niche sports such as fencing and judo. No strength coach is expected to be an expert in each of the 35 sports in the Olympic games. Schwartz is continually asking questions: of his athletes, their coaches, and even his rivals. He spent several weeks after the games in London visiting some of the best training facilities in Europe and meeting with coaches of other countries.

"You kind of have to put away the ego," he said. "I certainly never tried to demonstrate to the athlete that 'I can run as fast as you.' I try to teach them the intangibles of discipline, intensity, and work ethic through leading by example."

Schwartz originally came to BGSU to major in physical therapy, then explored cardiac rehab during an internship in the Toledo area. He decided during an internship at a strength and conditioning center in Florida that his high intensity level was better suited for athletics. He turned down a job offer of $50,000 in a rehab facility in favor of a $6,000 job with Falcon football assisting the strength coaches. Though it was a decision that would make most parents cringe, the financial sacrifice was worth it to Schwartz. The connections he made through Falcon football took his career from the University of Houston to the Cleveland Indians. He was head strength coach at Northern Arizona University before pursuing his current role.

Schwartz recognizes that his career path may have been different if not for BGSU. He believes that embracing his initial "undecided" major and surpassing his internship requirements as a BGSU student helped him explore his career options and ultimately discover his passion.

"I feel that Bowling Green was the best place for me. I don't think I could have gone anywhere else and have gotten as much out of it. I still love it there," he said. "I got lucky because I had a lot of different, varied experience. Don't pigeon hole yourself and don't let anyone do that to you."