It’s been a little difficult for Windermere Prep Athletic Director Jacob Doss to contain his excitement about two particular hires he made this summer.
Perhaps it is because Doss is also the head football coach for the Lakers, and having a hired top-notch strength and conditioning coach and an athletic trainer with professional and Division I college experience certainly will come in handy for a program that hopes to be at the top of the class in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference.
Whatever the reason, Doss and the Lakers’ athletic community on campus have fully embraced Windermere Prep’s new dynamic duo of head strength coach Micah Kurtz and head athletic trainer Nathan Peck, both hired in June.
“Both of them have made an immediate impact,” Doss said. “It feels like they’ve already been here for a year.”
Kurtz and Peck both said they have received a warm welcome in Laker-land.
“They’ve opened their arms to us, which is awesome,” Peck said. “Everyone wants success across the board, which is nice.”
It’s easy to understand why the addition of Peck to the staff at Windermere Prep has produced a bit of excitement by looking at his work history.
The newcomer has worked in professional baseball and also at the collegiate level for Rice University, Long Beach State and the University of South Carolina. Most recently, he was the head athletic trainer for the football team at Appalachian State.
His is a career spanning two decades that had its origins in an injury.
"Both of them have made an immediate impact. It feels like they’ve already been here for a year."
— Jacob Doss, athletic director
“I started like a lot of people in this profession,” Peck said. “I got hurt playing high-school football, had to go through some rehab, and I was like, ‘This is something I could see myself doing.’”
Doss recalls on Peck’s first day in June, when he was out on the field rehabbing with a Laker athlete and has praised the program’s new athletic trainer for his attention to proactive and preventative practices.
“Nate is really big on the pre-hab, if you will,” Doss said.
Part of the reason it’s easy for some to feel as though Kurtz has been on campus longer than he has is his enthusiasm.
Kurtz is active on Twitter, highlighting the progress of Laker athletes, and his energy has not gone unnoticed by the student-athletes.
“Micah has a following already, and he’s been here for a month,” Doss said. “He’s really cutting-edge with the stuff that he does, and he has a great way of teaching it. … You naturally want to follow a guy like that.”
Kurtz’s path to Windermere Prep has its roots in a love for sports that translated to a love for the process of getting better at them.
"If they know that you know what you’re doing, and they know that you care about them, then they’re going to do anything for you."
— Micah Kurtz, strength and conditioning coach
“My biggest influences and mentors were my high-school coaches and P.E. teachers,” Kurtz recalled. “I really fell in love not only with sports but (also) with strength training and year-round training.”
Kurtz has experience as a graduate assistant at the University of South Carolina and has worked the last 10 years as the full-time strength coach at A.C. Flora High School in Columbia, South Carolina. He also has worked to coordinate the strength and conditioning program for national basketball powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, and he was asked to speak recently at the National High School Strength Coaches Association’s national conference.
Named to the “40-under-40” to watch by Coach & AD Magazine, Kurtz said the respect he has accrued within his profession only translates with the student-athletes once there is an established relationship — something he has been intentional about building.
“If they know that you know what you’re doing, and they know that you care about them, then they’re going to do anything for you,” Kurtz said.
Kurtz and Peck share contacts through the University of South Carolina and are off to a good start collaborating as partners for the Lakers.
Although their job duties are different, there is an understanding from each that the other is crucial to the ultimate goal — success for Lakers’ student-athletes.
"We collaborate daily."
— Nathan Peck, athletic trainer
“We collaborate daily,” Peck said. “I have that certification (as a strength and conditioning coach), as well, so that helps me and Micah communicate.”
Collectively, both men are excited to be in a high-school setting where they can have an impact — and also have the backing of a committed school administration.
“I’ve learned in these 10 years that the impact you can have at the high-school level is second to none,” Kurtz said. “To be at a place where you know that you’re going to give it your 100% all — and you know that the administration has your back 100% — that’s something you hope and dream for as a coach and as a professional.”