Article reposted from NBA
Author: Kyle Ratke
Editor’s Note: Our Kyle Ratke was able to chat with Head Strength and Conditioning Coach/Assistant Athletic Trainer David Crewe earlier this season about his journey and his role with the team. In his current role, Crewe oversees the development and implementation of the team’s strength and conditioning programs, as well as assists in the daily treatment and individual player rehabilitation.
Kyle Ratke: Head Strength and Conditioning Coach AND Assistant Athletic Trainer. That’s quite the job title. Asking for a friend, but what exactly does all of that mean?
David Crewe: Currently I serve as the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach/Assistant Athletic Trainer on the performance staff. In short, I work closely with the athletic training and coaching staffs to help develop our players into the best NBA players they can be. With the help of my assistant, Troy Sutton, we develop strength and conditioning programs designed to maximize performance output on the court. We also implement custom corrective exercise programs for the players which aim to minimize/address deficiencies. We aim to provide an educational, research-based and competitive environment each day. My role isn’t limited to the weight room though, I also have the task of coordinating meals for the team both while at home and on the road. Our kitchen staff at the practice facility does a great job of providing well-balanced meals, often customized to each players needs and wants.
KR: At what point in your life did you decide that you wanted to do something like this with your career?
DC: I played multiple sports growing up so a lot of my time was spent around gyms or watching games. I knew I wanted to be involved in sports and I knew the medical/performance field was where I belonged. What sparked my initial interest was working with athletic trainers and strength coaches while dealing with my own athletic injuries – sprained ankles, thigh contusions etc. Being introduced to the profession and the sciences behind it allowed me to appreciate what it takes to be great at your craft; whether an athlete, a coach or a member of the performance staff. I knew I wanted to be in the exercise sports science industry and the more experiences I had in dealing with it (shadowing, classes etc), the more motivated I became. In doing several rotations in the clinic, at the high school, the collegiate and the professional levels, I quickly realized I worked best under the demand and intensity of professional sports.
KR: I’m putting you on the spot here, but do you have a favorite player that you enjoy working with? Or just a favorite player in general?
DC: Recreationally? …Kyle Ratke… Hands down. (Editor’s Note: David, your check will arrive in 7-10 business days.)
Professionally, that’s a difficult question to answer. Each athlete you deal with over the years brings something special to the table. They all have such unique backgrounds, skillsets and varying personalities. I can’t really say I enjoy any one more than the next. If you walked into the locker room during the offseason, you would see empty lockers and empty chairs. The room becomes something special when those seats are filled with 15 individuals sharing a common goal. It may sound cliché but it’s never about one individual, it’s always the collective synergy that brings the most out of each guy and you grow an appreciation for each players’ personality, their backgrounds and their motivating factors.
That being said, we often form incredible bonds with some of the athletes. Working in such close proximity on a daily basis leads to a lot of shared experiences. We do spend a lot of time with the guys, sometimes when they are at their lowest during an injury. It’s easy to form connections with a variety of players, especially when you see them come out on the other end and show tremendous gains/improvements. It’s hard to duplicate that sense of accomplishment and I think its appreciated on both sides of the relationship.
KR: Okay, if you can’t answer that, how about a favorite memory?
DC: Again, I don’t know if there’s any one memory that stands out more than another. That’s what makes sports and competition so amazing, it seems to bring out the best in people and creates some incredible memories for everyone. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some unforgettable people and have had some great experiences while working for the Timberwolves organization; whether it was volunteer work to help around the Twin Cities, international travel to work with some of our players, being involved and witnessing our young guys excel at All-Star 2016 or working with legendary NBA coaches and players. I think as a member of the performance staff, there will never be a more distinct, or rewarding, memory than watching players achieve their goals; whether it be through performance markers, completing a grueling rehab or simply transforming their bodies.
KR: You’re in your seventh season with the team. Obviously, a lot has changed with the organization. How has your role changed through the years?
DC: Starting in this organization in 2010 as a seasonal athletic training intern, over the past six seasons I’ve held titles of Assistant Athletic Trainer, Assistant Athletic Trainer/Strength & Conditioning Coach and now currently Head Strength & Conditioning Coach/Assistant Athletic Trainer.
I’ve had the privilege of working for some incredible people who have helped mold me in to the young professional I am today. I’ve done the best I can over the years to absorb as much information and shared experiences as possible to increase my versatility within the performance staff. It’s taken a lot of hard work and faith from my superiors to transition from working solely in the Athletic Training Room to overseeing the development programs of our Timberwolves players in the weight room. My path is not entirely unique as many of the best health care professionals in the NBA carry multiple credentials/titles. Being able to serve as a first responder, a clinician and as a performance coach has increased my appreciation for each department in basketball operations and their respective responsibilities.
KR: The sports world is obviously crazy as far as hours go. Do you ever wonder what a 9-5 job is like considering your hectic schedule? Maybe throw an hour lunch break in there?
DC: Fortunately for me, I don’t know what a 9-5 would be like. I started my career early in professional sports serving in the NFL doing various athletic training internships as a sophomore in college and have been lucky enough to continue working in professional sports ever since. A busy/chaotic schedule is all I’ve ever known. I think my field of work matches my personality and interests so it never really feels like a burden.
Often times the schedule is more demanding and grueling on your loved ones. They have to be just as willing, if not more, to be flexible and adaptable to the taxing schedule. Their support and understanding definitely helps make all of the travel days and all of the late game nights easier.
I think at the end of the day, people want to work in an environment that motivates, challenges and empowers them. I can speak for myself and my coworkers in that we feel a great sense of fulfillment at the end of each work day, each season. The NBA travel schedule can be demanding and challenging at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
KR: You’re behind the scenes with these players and see all the hard work that goes on when the cameras aren’t rolling. When it comes to teams you’ve been around, how hard working of a group is this young squad?
DC: We are really fortunate to have such a hard-working group of guys. They understand the importance of not only staying ready, but the need for a great work ethic at a young age. The coaching staff does a terrific job raising the bar each day. The season can be a grind but our guys strive to get better, in one way or another, every day. Complacency isn’t really in their vocabularies. We have a young team, but we also have some players with a wealth of experience and knowledge who are helping our young guys create good habits, early in their careers. They’re proactive in taking care of the bodies whether it be in the athletic training room, the weight room or even the kitchen. Being on the performance staff, the beauty of our jobs is we get the opportunity to work with individuals who are extremely motivated and have the opportunity to become something legendary with the skill set and talents they’ve been blessed with. The expectations they set for themselves help raise the level of expectations throughout our practice facility.