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2015 LaDon Battle ACUThe paths that LaDon Battle (pictured right) and Arizona Christian University (ACU) football program crossed each other unexpectedly. LaDon had opportunities to become a Strength & Conditioning coach but the idea of having to leave home wasn’t too appealing at the time. While LaDon was weighing his options, the football program at ACU in Phoenix was looking for a Strength & Conditioning intern. This was a perfect opportunity for LaDon to pursue his dream of working as a Strength & Conditioning coach and he pounced on it. It’s worked out perfectly for both as ACU made LaDon the Strength & Conditioning coach after the internship ended.

How did you land the internship opportunity at ACU?

At first I had an intern opportunity to work at Notre Dame and the University of Arizona but the decision of making a move was not something I was ready for so I kept applying. ACU was looking for some help through the summer only for a month and I got the job. After the summer was over I was offered to stay on as a staff and oversee the strength of the football program.

Tell us about your background. Where did you go to college and what did you major in?

I come from a deaf family, born and raised in Arizona. Went to school at Phoenix Day School for the Deaf (PDSD) and graduated at Apollo High School. I went to University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) for a year and then went to Gallaudet for two years. At Gallaudet I majored in English and Literature. I am currently taking my MBA at Arizona State University. One of my goals is to be able to run a strength program for a D1 school someday.

Did you play sports in high school or college?

Yes, I played four years of football and basketball in high school. At college, I played football for a year at UNLV and two years at Gallaudet.

Where did you coach before ACU?

Before coming to ACU, I was already a Head Coach for varsity basketball at PDSD. Before PDSD, I coached football at Washington School for the Deaf.

Are you still planning to continue coaching basketball at PDSD?

Yes, I will continue to coach basketball.

What are your responsibilities as a Strength & Conditioning coach at ACU?

My responsibility here at ACU is to oversee the strength program for the football team and we have about 137 players. The ones that don't suit up stays here to build up strength and speed in order to play at this level I also have on field duties which I help with the offense on game days.

What is your biggest challenge as a Strength & Conditioning coach?

Biggest challenge as a Strength coach is making sure the athletes stays explosive throughout the season and make sure they're getting stronger in the offseason. The rigors of making a solid program that will ensure the athletes will become stronger and then stay strong during the season. I have seen the powerhouse schools such as Nebraska, Alabama, Ohio State and prominent program such as Oregon, TCU and Baylor on how they revolve their athletes around the Strength Coach and the success has paid off extremely well for them.

Are there any issues regarding communication with players & other coaches? How do you deal or overcome this barrier?

There were issues when we have coaches meeting trying to keep up what is being said and what is going on within the athletics department. The players are aware that I am Deaf. They have been very patient and that has gone well as they're very self motivated so it makes my job a bit easier. The coaches do their best to make sure I'm involved at all times. We communicate through text and emails a lot and that has become less of a barrier for me.

What is your philosophy and approach on strength & conditioning training?

My philosophy with strength is based on the Westside Conjugative method in the offseason focusing on max effort and getting strong as possible during the season. During the season, I go back to the basics 3 times a week staying in the 60% range. We do a lot of Band/TRX workouts to keep the flexibility without the chances of getting hurt during the season.

How do you keep up with the latest trends on strength & conditioning training?

As a certified S&C coach, we stay in touch with other S&C coaches and share ideas see what methods work for them and how they do it. I also attend S&C clinics that are hosted every year as well so everything is really network based.

Tell us a little about ACU. They play in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). How is that different from the NCAA?

ACU is a private university who has been around since 1960 but the past two years it has decided to expand which why it added a football team and hopefully to grow similar to Grand Canyon University which started as a small university now is a Division 1 university but doesn't have a football program yet. The difference between the NCAA and the NAIA is that the NAIA is a smaller association. It is made up of smaller 4-year universities throughout the United States and the competitive levels are comparable to NCAA D2 schools. There are equally talented players in the NAIA and NCAA D2 schools and both have excellent opportunities for education and athletic achievement.

Are there any other Deaf Strength & Condition coaches at the college level in the USA?

Not that I know of! Would be amazing to see more around.

2015 LaDon Battle ACU Football
ACU football team working out under LaDon Battle.