An exclusive interview with University of Richmond Strength and Conditioning Coach, Jay DeMayo.
Jay DeMayo has been a 1R staple since day one, providing articles on everything from the ever popular Back to the Basics Series, to the 100 Rep Challenge. A former college soccer player, Jay has been working as the Head Basketball Strength Coach at the University of Richmond since 2005 where he’s worked with numerous professional athletes including Tim Hightower, Lawrence Sidbury, and Justin Harper. We caught up with Jay to discuss strength training, freak athletes, and adjusting to athletics at the college level.
1. What's the one thing seemingly all freshmen don't understand/need to learn to compete at the next level?
This is probably a two part answer. The first is, even though you think you know how to work hard, you really don’t. Young athletes have a gear they have not yet reached, and during their first summer here it’s our job to make them find it (while educating them in the proper techniques of training). The second is, until you figure out that everything matters, you won’t get any better. What I mean by that is school, your sport and your training all matter. How you handle your athletic trainer matters, your academic coordinator matters, everything matters. It all has an impact on how you perform, and whether you believe it or not, all of it affects your game.
2. Between the football guys and basketball guys, you've trained a bunch of great athletes at Richmond. Who’s the best athlete and who was the biggest weight room freak?
Easy answer. Tim Hightower, who now plays for the Washington Redskins, hands down. That man is unbreakable in the gym. Tim had a relentlessness to be the best at everything, it didn’t matter if it was school, the weight room, practice/games, or just as a person, he’s one of the best guys I’ve had the opportunity to work with. I saw him do lunges with 405 on his back for about 70 yards because someone said it couldn’t be done. Enough said.
3. Who have you witnessed make the biggest strides, physically, and how'd they do it?
I have two guys right now that would rival him but they’re still our athletes so I don’t think I’m allowed to mention their names. Knowing that, this is another easy one; Justin Harper made the biggest strides in his 4 years here of any player I’ve worked with. How he did it, that’s an even easier answer. He never took a day off. That kid worked like no other and got drafted to play in the NBA last year (so end the damn lock out already). For a 6’9” guy with a 7” wing span, the weight room is, at best, an awkward place, but he punched his time card and went to work every single day. He’s a guy who earned everything he has received, and I couldn’t be prouder of him for all his effort and now the rewards he is about to receive.
4. Word on the street is that you’re pretty high on the omegawave training system. What’s been the most interesting thing you’ve learned thus far?
I know enough to be dangerous right now so we’re still learning every day. The biggest takeaway is that everything matters. The stress outside of training has a profound effect on athletes. No matter what the stressor is: school, papers, social life, significant others, it shows up. It’s really cool and will definitely help us with our programming in the future. It’s a great tool, and even though it’s expensive, I’m so glad we have in our arsenal.
5. You get one exercise to prescribe to all of your athletes. What is it and why?
Squats. It’s the king exercise, it has the highest carry over to performance and is a preparatory exercise for many specialized strength exercises.
6. Know you’ve working with some of the best in the S&C business but what coach has had the biggest impact on your career thus far?
Wow, this shouldn’t be such a tough question, but it really is. There have been quite a few people who have made an impression on my career. Bryan McGovern was the first guy I worked for at Binghamton, so his impact was huge. Kip Hytreck at ISU who I GA’d (is that even a word?!) under. Darrin Thomas, Brandon Hourigan, Tim Beltz, Andrea Hudy, Chris Stewart and all the guys I’ve worked with here at U of R have had a tremendous impact as well. But the biggest impact is a three way tie between Yosef Johnson, Dr. Michael Yessis, and Cal Dietz. All three are super smart dudes who have really helped me figure this game out. I would say Joel Jamieson is going to have quite a bit of impact as well now that I have an Omegawave, and that thing has already changed how I look at the physical preparation of my athletes.
7. Where can the 1R Nation get more Jay DeMayo?
We run a web site for our seminar, www.cvasps.com, but that’s more for a coaches. Our readers are definitely more than welcome to check that out though. There’s some really cool stuff we’ve posted, and will post, but it’s more about the how’s and why’s of training. I’m a contributor for Muscle and Fitness as well as on their advisory board, so you’ll see some work from me in there as well.
8. Who’s the best looking/strongest S&C coach in the A-10?
Best looking, that’s GW’s Ben Kenyon. The man can dress to impress. Strongest, I’m not going to take the bait, but would love to train with all the guys in the league. We’re really lucky to have some great coaches in A-10, so I couldn’t judge without training a couple times with them.