Around the Horned With Brian Estridge
Sept. 14, 2002
The fruits of their labor were sewn in the heat of the summer...sounds like some line from an NFL films special. Actually it came out of the mouth of a six-foot, four-inch 280-pound strength and conditioning coach with a foo-man-chu to match!
Don Sommer has been the mastermind behind the strength and conditioning program at TCU for the past two years. And I don't use that term mastermind lightly. The results of his voluntary "Sommer Tour" and ensuing in-season workout program have become legendary in the 21 months since he arrived in Fort Worth from the University of Missouri. We'll get into the numbers later, first let's tell you what its like to be a Frog football player.
As a freshman the news is good and bad. The good news is you are allowed to spend six days a week for eight weeks during the beginning of the semester with Coach Sommer and his voluntary "player development program." The bad news is you are allowed to spend six days a week for eight weeks with Coach Sommer and his player development program!
In what he terms as their "prime growing season," Sommer molds boys to men, turns fat to muscle and refines techniques to increase running efficiency.
Just ask Flander Malone. You'll see him out on the field today wearing number 29. Flander arrived at TCU from Dallas Skyline, a 5'11" 180-pound lean (what he thought was) mean machine. But now look at him. In that eight-week session in August of 2001 he gained 20 pounds of muscle, learned how to better use his lower body strength and excelled at the "Sommer Speed School." It's like having a free off-season or an additional two-a-days all before your asked to don the purple for real.
Then once you have "graduated" to the real workouts in the off-season prior to your debut on the field, things really get interesting. Summers are spent running four days and lifting four days. Mondays start the week with extensive conditioning, Tuesdays are spent on a hill or on the stadium steps and Wednesdays it's back to 'Speed School" to work on technique and efficiency in running again, or in the pool for resistance running.
All this is going on while you are laying it all on the line in the weight room. Even though the summer or off-season workout program is voluntary, TCU players have learned over the years that in order to be successful, a psuedo-diploma from the Sommer Tour is a must. The goal is when you show up for two-a-days you are in shape and the coaches don't have to worry as much about conditioning. This allows for better concentration levels and more time spent on the game plans.
All of this is part of Sommer's master plan to push these players to points where they didn't think they could go. He'll do it by getting to know you. He'll know if you need loud vocal pushing like Jeremy Breedlove or if you just need to know that he was disappointed in your effort that day like John Turntine or Jamal Powell. He'll motivate you by helping you chase the dream of the NFL like Jason Goss and LaTarence Dunbar, or he'll let his resume back it up: two 1000-pound squatters at Missouri, the first 800-pound squatter at TCU (thank you Jamal Powell), and a current TCU football team that averages 410 pounds on the bench and a squat of 554. That includes everybody - from Tommy Taylor to Anthony Alabi. Enough said!
Don Sommer is all business in the weight room, pushing and pulling, molding and mending. He'll let you have it if he thinks you're loafing. And that's a good thing, because the day he stops pushing you to be the best you can be, is the day he gives up on you, and in order to be Frog Football player - you can't afford for that to happen!
From the streets and avenues of North Texas to the information super highway, I'm Brian Estridge. We'll see you on the radio!