The Mike Smith difference

in Football/Profiles/Sports by
Coach Mike (left) works with former Arizona Cardinals defensive back Travell Dickson (right_ on change of direction movement patterns and drop step running to simulate covering wide receivers in games. (Photos submitted by Mike Smith)

Whether it’s training professional football players or high school athletes, Coach Mike Smith improves the skill of many young sports players everyday. Coach Mike has been working to bring athletes to the next level of play for around 15 years now; this interest roots itself in his days of playing sports as a kid. “Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of access to the training and other things you guys have now. I had to train myself and prepare for the next level of competition on my own, so I’ve always been interested in training,” Coach Mike said. 

In 2008, Coach Mike worked for a company as a fitness coach, and Heritage was one of the schools his company sent him to. Mike has been working at Heritage since 2008, but officially started working full time in 2013 when he became the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. 

Since Coach Mike has been here, many of our athletic programs have felt the impact of his training. He works with the football teams, soccer teams, lacrosse teams, basketball teams, baseball teams and more. Coach Mike said, “Whether it’s on the field or in the weight room, our athletes have all become bigger, faster, stronger, which is why we compete at the level we do.” Before Coach Mike was hired in 2013, our football team hadn’t won a state championship. Now, we have 4 rings. Since his arrival, our baseball team has won 2 national championships, and both our boys and girls soccer teams have won states multiple times. 

Coach Mike said his type of training, “… gives us an advantage. We have something that other schools don’t have. We train year round doing the same workouts as professional athletes, and we are just built differently because of that. Our saying that we really take pride in the last couple years is ‘We’re just built different’.”

The primary thing Mike focuses on in training is movement patterns. Anybody can condition for a sport by running sprints or lifting weights, but to really improve, Coach Mike believes in doing workouts that simulate what they are going to do on the field. “General workout stuff can be applied to every sport. The next step is how you make your workouts specific to that sport,” Coach Mike said. 

Coach Mike puts an emphasis on drills that focus on a change in direction. For example, if he’s training cornerbacks in football, he may have them do a lot of backpedaling, versus if he’s training the basketball team, he may have them do a lot of shuffling. The other two things he highlights in his training are injury prevention workouts and being “bigger, faster, stronger.” These three things incorporated into one workout makes up the formula to Coach Mike’s training. 

Over the years, Coach Mike has developed his own training businesses outside of Heritage called D2D, or “Dedication to Domination.” He trains college and professional athletes to prepare them for their upcoming season. Most of his clients are Heritage alumni who have made it to the professional level and continue to have a strong relationship with him. He has trained NFL players that were once at Heritage such as Sony Michel, Brian Burns, Isaiah McKenzie, and more.

Jack is a junior and a new addition to the newsmagazine staff. Outside of writing for the sports section, Jack has been a starter on the varsity lacrosse team since his freshman year, as well as being an active fisherman. Jack is in a few clubs outside of the school and plans on going to college at his dream school, The University of Michigan.

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