New Strength and Conditioning Coach an Asset for Hen Hud Athletes, Students
In Mark Merchant’s world, every plan has a purpose. So in his new role as the district’s strength and conditioning coach, Merchant has a clear intention: To enhance the performance of Hen Hud student-athletes.
“Anything I’m doing in here is to support what the coaches are doing out there,” Merchant said. “I want to hand them better athletes.”
That was also a goal of Hen Hud Athletic Director Tom Baker, who stressed the need for someone to fill a role that has been in flux since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He found that Merchant — a father of two Hen Hud students, resident of the district, and former owner of a fitness studio in Manhattan — was the right fit.
Merchant has already started working with students and will operate out of the high school weight room from 4-6 p.m. three days a week.
He plans to train athletes with the objective of improving their speed and strength.
“A stronger athlete, a more fit athlete, is going to be a better athlete,” Merchant said.
Merchant said he will be available to coach athletes both in and out of season — he has already begun working with teams active during the fall — but also with any student interested in improving their fitness.
“This really is a great opportunity for not only our student-athletes, but all of our students and one they should all take advantage of,” Baker said.
Baker and some of the Sailor coaches are already familiar with Merchant’s work. He trained coaches and staff and has designed fitness programs in previous years.
Merchant will now be more engaged with the athletes and students on a regular basis. One of his innovative plans involves gathering data from athletes by having them wear a GPS tracker.
“The data is going to be convincing,” Merchant said. “It will log how long they run, or how fast they tire. It can let us know where they need to improve. If you don’t match in practice what you have to do during a game, you’ll never be ready.”
Baker is excited to see what impact Merchant will make.
“I believe he’s going to be a real asset for us,” he said.