By Sara Baxter - It is common knowledge that varsity athletes put in extensive hours to prepare for their games and competitions each week. These are hours spent at practice with their teams, in physio, in meetings, and also in the weight room. At Acadia, Elliott Richardson is a consistent presence for all athletes in the varsity weight room.
As the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Acadia University, Richardson works with all varsity teams. He prepares customized training plans for each sport and will modify and adapt these plans to fit the needs of individual athletes. With the support of his staff and kinesiology student volunteers, Elliott does everything that he can to ensure Acadia athletes are prepared to win. Some may say that he is lucky to have the opportunity to work with every varsity team at Acadia, but most athletes here would argue that they are fortunate to work with Richardson.
As explained by Keisha Kane of the Women's Rugby Team "It is crazy to think I have been training with Elliott for five years now. His knowledge in the weight room and his desire to make his athletes the best they can be is second to none. Without his help, I would not have become the athlete I am today. I can't thank him enough for what he has done for me over the past five years".
An Acadia graduate, Richardson understands the difference a strength and condition coach can have on the success and preparedness of athletes at the university level. "I got into performance training mostly to improve myself. When I was a student here we didn't have a strength coach" explained Richardson.
During his time playing varsity football with Acadia, Richardson was known for putting in countless hours in the weight room. "I was never the most gifted athlete, but I was able to improve physically. I was training since I was 14, and I was able to continue past people who were more skilled and more athletically gifted". These hours in the gym, as well as his success on the field, impressed CFL coaches, and Richardson found himself playing football in the CFL for three years after his graduation with a Bachelor of Kinesiology from Acadia.
After his time in the CFL, Richardson created his own opportunities at Acadia, all driven by his desire to offer athletes the opportunities he wish he had been given. "When I got cut, instead of going back home, I decided to go back here [Wolfville]. I volunteered with football, and then that turned into working with a few teams, and then all teams, and privately too. I wanted to give every athlete the opportunity that I wish I'd had as an athlete. I feel like I could've gotten better if I'd had the cutting-edge programs and coaches" explained Richardson.
Richardson has just celebrated his sixth year working full-time as the strength and conditioning coach for Acadia, and many senior athletes have been along for the journey with him. Jackson Clayton of the Men's Football team has worked with Richardson throughout his time at Acadia. "I would say being a fifth-year varsity athlete, I came around the same time Coach Elliott became the varsity strength and conditioning coach here at Acadia, and to see the growth in not only the facility of the High-Performance Center or within the workout programs he makes, but within himself and his staff, is unbelievable. He changes people's bodies and ways of thinking and helps us become better athletes. Every year he comes at us with something new, something better than the previous year and it challenges us to hold ourselves to his standard, and the athletics department has made significant strides with Coach" praised Clayton.
With the recent success of varsity teams at Acadia, it would be simple for Richardson to assume he has done his job well, but he challenges himself to look for more than just success on the playing field. "I can't say the reason the athletes are getting better is because of the work I am doing because I realize there is more that goes into it" explained Richardson.
Richardson would be among the biggest supporters of all athletes at Acadia, "I love seeing our athletes do really good, but it's more the day-to-day stuff of getting a personal best or mindset change".
Elliott Richardson has earned the trust and respect of all athletes he works with, from middle school and high school Acadia Performance Training athletes, up to Acadia University Varsity athletes. He truly has created a culture of hard work and dedication among all his athletes, and they aim to reach the high bar he sets.