This fall semester, Tyler Hurley has been an intern strength and conditioning coach for the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. While he has undoubtedly helped take the two lacrosse teams to a new level athletically, he is perhaps better known for his genial demeanor and his somewhat unorthodox approach to training. He prides himself on embracing the stereotypes of strength and conditioning coaches being “gym-rats” or “meatheads” rather than rejecting them, and encourages the athletes he coaches to do the same when it comes to weight training. He has been known for blasting his hardcore rock and roll music throughout the weight room during training sessions, as well as his boisterous yelling to encourage players.
Seniors on both teams have enjoyed the unique style Hurley brings to the table. Senior attack Kelsey McCoy said, “Hurley is a great guy. Our team had never done strength and conditioning before, and he was super patient and nice while teaching us about it. He helped me feel more confident going into my senior season.”
As senior midfielder on the men’s lacrosse team, Zack Riggs said, “Waking up at six in the morning during the week and going to lift can be hard, and not very appealing, but he has made it something we all look forward to.”
“The problem with a lot of weight training coaches is they take training way too seriously, and that’s when it gets boring and can feel like a chore.” Coach Hurley said in our interview during a morning weight training session. This particular training session was no ordinary one though. Coach Hurley had scheduled a ‘bro-out day’ for the men’s lacrosse team where he encouraged the players to come in dressed up as ‘bros’. The players came dressed in basketball jerseys, Chubbies shorts, and cut-off tank tops. The weight room looked like a bad episode of Jersey Shore. “I take training seriously, but I firmly believe you have to have fun while you’re doing it. That’s why I embrace the stereotypes like ‘meathead’ and have fun with it.”
While he may embrace the term ‘meathead’ in the gym, Hurley is anything but one away from the weights. While he has been interning at Transylvania, he has also been coaching and attending classes at Eastern Kentucky University, and will be receiving his master’s degree in Physical Science Education next week. A busy schedule for the intern coach, but when asked about it, he didn’t seem to mind.
“I was born in London, Kentucky, which is a really small town. There wasn’t any sense of entitlement growing up, and there was a lot of tough love. Nothing was handed to you, so I learned from a young age the importance of hard work.” When asked if his upbringing influences his approach to managing his busy schedule, he simply responded, “Definitely.”
Hurley now resides in Berea, Kentucky, and commutes to Lexington in the mornings in order to make it to his first training session at 7 a.m. “A usual day for me starts at five in the morning, and ends about eight at night.” Although his workdays are long, the players he coaches would never know due to his consistently positive attitude. Sophomore midfielder of the women’s lacrosse team Bailee Stevens stated, “His leadership by example and constant uplifting attitude and enthusiasm has made us eager to make gains and has helped prepare us for the upcoming season.”
While Hurley’s attitude is contagious, what sets Coach Hurley apart to many players is his interest in the personal wellbeing of the athletes he coaches. As senior defenseman on the men’s lacrosse team, Matthew Parker put it, “It isn’t the technical, structured workouts, or sport-specific stretches and training that sets Coach Hurley apart. It’s all of that combined with his personal investment in our success as a team, and as individuals.” This personal investment was evident when senior Clark Watts of the men’s lacrosse team told Hurley that he had landed an accountant job in Louisville for once he graduated. Coach Hurley proceeded to have all the players stop lifting weights and applaud Watts on his achievement. Watts stated, “I’ve never seen a weight training coach do something like that.” He went on to say, “Hurley is an incredible strength coach, but his characteristics as a human are what I feel hold him in a unique place.
When I asked Hurley what made him want to be coach in the first place he replied, “Ever since high school I’ve wanted to coach and help people. When I would go to the gym after school people would always correct my workouts in the weight room, but nobody could really explain why certain workouts were better than others. That frustrated me, and it made me want to learn more about the science of working out.”
Hurley has not forgotten the feeling of being a newcomer to the world of weight training. For newcomers to weight lifting at Transy, his expertise has helped to qualm their skepticism. Sophomore midfielder on the women’s lacrosse team Emma Oliver is a clear case of an initial skeptic who has come to enjoy hitting the weight room. “The women’s lacrosse team just started doing strength and conditioning this fall, and I had never done lifting before so I was pretty hesitant. But Hurley was such an excellent instructor and he helped all of the beginners feel more confident and work to become better athletes.”
Although Hurley has been such a positive influence over both men and women’s teams this past semester, he will not be hired on for the spring semester. He expressed his gratitude for Mike Caro, the head strength and conditioning coach at Transylvania. “He’s been a big influence on me, and I’ve learned a lot from him,” Hurley stated.
As Oliver stated, “We’re going to miss him so much next semester.” A sentiment felt by both women’s as well as the men’s lacrosse teams. A common feeling from both teams was one of immense gratitude to Coach Hurley for his dedication to the athletes he coached. Although he will not be at Transylvania next semester, he is a member of the Pioneer family, and on behalf of the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, we wanted to extend a formal thank you for the lasting influence he has left at Transy.