Feb. 20, 2013
By: Courtney Fritts
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - He is the man behind the curtain, the person who isn't a part of everyday practice, but is the base and the core of the entire team's strength.
In simplest terms, to win a regatta, rowers must be able to move water. In order to move water, these athletes must have explosive strength, impenetrable stability, long-lasting endurance and a strong core.
A Tennessee graduate himself, rowing strength coach Barry Cain has been in the strength and conditioning program at Tennessee since 1998.
Each strength trainer has their favorite types of workouts, Cain's are cross-fit workouts, but he also enjoys creating workouts to match his team's personality and attitude. Despite his affection towards cross fit, Cain is a self-proclaimed "meat and potatoes guy, so the clean, squat and bench will always be number one."
When it comes to rowing, Cain says he has seen incredible improvement since the beginning of the fall when he took over as the rowing team's strength coach for the first time.
"Rowing came in with a great work ethic," Cain said. "I know a lot of the rowers haven't done Olympic lifting and everyone picked up on it quickly. Their technique is really good."
Each athlete Cain trains is motivated differently and he says he enjoys working around each athlete and each team to find the most efficient way to be successful.
"Barry is really great to work with," junior rower Michelle Goodwin said. "He's introduced us to new lifts and exercises and really knows how to push us. He gives us a great environment to work in and is helping us get stronger. It's definitely safe to say we're all big fans!"
Although his favorite part about being a strength coach is the creativity in planning workouts, he is very dedicated to working directly with head coach Lisa Glenn. Together they make sure the lifting in the weight room matches up perfectly with the work on the water so that the two complement each other.
It was Glenn's idea to start implementing more power and max strength, which is a different style of lifting than rowing has done in years past.
"Since we only lift twice a week, we do full body and I try my best to fit in core and stretching at the end," he said. "There are a lot of rib and lower back issues with rowing, so the stronger that we can make the core, hopefully we can prevent some of that."
With rowing's new strength trainer also came a brand new weight room for the Lady Vols. The 22,000-square-foot, two-story weight room is nearly five times larger than the Lady Vols' previous 4,500-square-foot weight room in the Stokely Athletic Center.
"The new weight room definitely has more play room to it," Cain said. "In the past, they've had to break rowing up into two groups just because of the size of the room and it's great to be able to train the whole team together at once. There's a lot more flexibility and you can do a lot of stuff in this one."
The team unity that Cain has put into play this year has helped the team both mentally and physically in their team bonding and on-the-water cohesiveness.
"We all love the new weight room," Goodwin said. "There is so much room and we can all work together and do the same exercises all at once. You get to see everyone working hard, which is great for us as a team."
As for Cain, his appreciation for his teams and the work he does and his joyful personality transfers from his unstoppable smiling face to his athletes during workouts.
"It's been a great experience being at Tennessee," he said. "Every strength trainer brings in something different and it's allowed me to see multiple perspectives. I've been able to expand my thinking towards strength and conditioning. I love it here and I hope I get to stay here much longer."
Cain's new boss, director of strength and conditioning Dave Lawson, gives his trainers a hands-off approach, which Cain fully enjoys. Lawson told him to "take care of your athletes and take care of your coaches and just do your thing."
Barry's "thing" has been successful at Tennessee for 15 years. He started his career majoring in physics at Clemson University. After working with the U.S. Department of Energy in Oak Ridge, Tenn., he looked into UT's exercise science program and ended up in strength and conditioning.
"I always kind of wanted to be a coach because my athletic career ended in high school. From there, it's been rolling ever since."
And for the Lady Vols, they hope his career continues rolling as they embark on another successful spring season.