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Strength and Conditioning

Corey Davidson ‘16

Staff Writer


“We strive everyday to prepare men and women for personal and competitive excellence” This is the mission statement for the Merrimack College Strength and Conditioning Program. The program’s core values include communication, discipline and culture. There have been a number of different changes made this year within the program compared to recent years, one of the biggest being the addition of the Graduate Fellowship Program.

Dr. Kyle McInnis, Associate Dean and Professor of Health Sciences included a new graduate program, which allows students to work towards a degree called Master’s of Science and Exercise and Sport’s Science. Dr. McInnis reached out to the Asst. Athletic Director and Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Kamal about implementing The Graduate Fellowship program. The program was added as a way for those graduate students to gain some experiential learning while getting a 50% tuition reimbursement. Coach Kamal was on board with the idea in hopes to improve the education of the graduate students as well as benefit the overall productivity and success of teams in the weight room. Coach Kamal took part in the selection process as he reached out to his network by asking if they had anyone they would recommend as a candidate, understanding that after this year the fellows will be ready to step into a position of an Assistant Strength and Condition Coach in a Collegiate program. These potential candidates first had to apply to the graduate school and once they were accepted, then had to go through the formal application process overseen by Coach Kamal.

By increasing the weight room staff by six members it allows for more supervision and ultimately provides a better service for the athletes. In past years it had been two coaches for 24 varsity sports, now it is 9 coaches for 24 varsity sports.

This has given the opportunity for each graduate fellow to grow their understanding and knowledge as each are assigned a specific sports team they will be in charge of for the year as well as the student athletes getting more instruction as there is more coaches to oversee their workouts. Prior to the graduate fellow coaches implementing a new workout program, they must sit down with Coach Kamal and go over the program they have designed. They take a look at the goals they have set out, if it makes sense for the given sport, and most important of all is to make sure that it will produce a safe and successful outcome. The main goals of a program are to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.

With the addition of the Graduate fellows the Strength and Conditioning program as a collective unit the end product is that much better. Each coach gives 100% and everyone understands the mission and has been able to improve the service they aim to provide for the men and women of Merrimack College. By sticking to the core values and abiding to the mission statement, the product of what the Strength and Conditioning program aims to accomplish has drastically improved because of the high standards they hold themselves to.


Coach William Franco

Hometown: Worcester, MA

College: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Favorite Professional Team: New England Patriots

What sports did you play in High School/College?

I played football and baseball in high school. And played club baseball in college.

Teams you work with at Merrimack:

Primary – Baseball pitchers and Women’s Lax

Assist with football, men’s ice hockey, men’s lax, and track and field

What made you choose this Career path?

Seeing how the weight room improves performance.

What do you hope to bring to the Program?

Enthusiasm, passion, communication, discipline, and culture.

What’s your favorite part about working with athletes at Merrimack? 

Being able to see them succeed on the field through my help in the weight room.


Coach Mark Zabicki

Hometown: Enfield, CT

College: Becker College

Favorite Professional Team: New York Rangers/ New York Jets

What sports did you play in High School/ College?

High School: Cross-Country, Ice Hockey, Track and Field.  College: Lacrosse, Ice Hockey

Teams you work with at Merrimack:

My primary team is Men’s Lacrosse and I assist with Men’s Hockey, Women’s Lacrosse, Women’s Hockey, Football, Track and Field, Women’s Basketball, and Volleyball.

What made you choose this Career path?

My passion for athletics and my desire to help individuals grow have had a large impact on choosing to pursue a career in strength and conditioning. Coaching in the weight room is unlike any other profession; I get to work with multiple athletes each day, and see them grow not only as athletes but also as people. It’s a very rewarding feeling being in a position to promote all around growth of the student athletes.

What’s your favorite part about working with athletes at Merrimack?

My favorite part of working with the athletes at Merrimack is the overall culture. From my experience with my primary team and the teams I assist with the athletes hold each other to a high standard. There is a great focus within the weight room and knowing that the athletes will arrive each day ready to put their best foot forward helps me stay energized and looking forward to each day. Merrimack has been a tremendous experience to this point and is responsible for a great amount of my development as a strength and conditioning coach. I am grateful for having the opportunity to learn under Coach Kamal and Coach Leech all while working with great athletes like the ones at Merrimack.


Coach Brandon Sebastian

Hometown: Warren, NJ

College: James Madison University

Favorite Professional Team: New Orleans Saints

What sports did you play in High school?

Football and Tennis

Teams you work with at Merrimack:

Men’s Tennis, Football, Men’s Hockey, Track and Field

What made you choose this career path?

I’ve always been drawn to being a leader and an educator. I think that knowledge is the most important gift you can help someone to attain. I thought about what activities make me the happiest (strength and conditioning) and how I could apply to my life as an occupation (coach).

What do you hope to bring to the program?

I hope that in the short time I am here that I can make lasting positive relationships. Being here for less than a year I may not have a substantial performance impact on most of the athletes I coach but I can definitely establish myself as a positive part in their lives. That is what is most important to me, the life of a college athlete is unbelievably stressful and demanding and if I can provide at least a bit of understanding and relief I think that’s a victory. I want them to associate being in the weight room with feelings of comfortability and empowerment and create an environment where I’ll be sad to leave and happy to come back.

What’s your favorite part about working with athletes at Merrimack?

The best part about working with people is that everyone brings something different to the table. When you allow athletes to be themselves and express themselves in an environment that is physically and mentally challenging you see amazing things. You see these athletes do things that they never thought they could do (and sometimes that you never thought they could do) and they are proud of that. You can see the sense of fulfillment they feel as a result of being in the weight room. As athletes and coaches we get to share the experience of that moment together. That is the best part – knowing you had even a little part in their forward journey of becoming better competitors and better people.


Coach Patrick Jennings

Hometown: Llandudno Wales

College: University of Bangor Wales

Favorite Professional Team: Liverpool FC

What sports did you play in High School/College?

Soccer, Rugby, Tennis, Rock climbing

Teams you work with at Merrimack:

Men’s Soccer, Track and Field, Football

What made you choose this Career path?

Passion for Health and wellness, I derive a lot of pleasure helping people achieve optimum standards of living through exercise.

What do you hope to bring to the Program?

Other than a NCAA title for men’s soccer, I hope to help athletes bring out their best but help fellow strength coaches do the same.

What’s your favorite part about working with athletes at Merrimack?

Being able to see progress and get exposure to the culture of different teams.

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