College athletic programs are always looking to get ahead. And especially now, in an age of perhaps unprecedented parity across major collegiate athletics, coaches are willing to try anything that they think will give their program even the slightest edge.
And in recent years, one training trend has become increasingly apparent at major programs across the country. These teams are leaving the traditional weight room setting for an untraditional workout run by the country's finest, the Navy SEALs.
Different schools have formed unique partnerships with the SEALs. Michigan, for example, had 22 players attend leadership training run by the Navy SEALs in California. Michigan coach Brady Hoke formed a relationship with the San Diego SEALs during his time at San Diego State, and he's remained close ever since.
"To watch the kids grow and see how they treat their teammates and influence their teammates is fun to watch," Hoke told ESPN.com in May. "If they run the locker room, we're going to be OK. If I have to run the locker room, we're going to be in trouble."
Last week, the Maryland basketball team took part in workouts organized by a former Navy SEAL. As with many of the other training sessions, these workouts emphasized leadership and team building as well as physical fitness.
Before college athletes were training with the Navy SEALs, the SEALs had formed a strong partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee. A group of U.S. Olympic Training Center employees formulated the idea in 2004, as a group of Olympic athletes trained in Chula Vista, Calif. The SEALs' San Diego headquarters is just about 10 miles north. The SEALs worked with a plethora of athletes, including swimmers, rowers, speed skaters and water polo players.
Jim Bauman, a staff psychologist at U.S. Olympic Training Center, said the Olympains had a lot to learn from the Navy SEALs.
"We'd have great athletes show up and implode when it was time to perform," Bauman told ESPNW. "I was very impressed how mentally different those guys were."
The SEALs aren't the only servicemen taking out time to train athletes. Other college football programs, like Oregon and Syracuse, have implemented similar boot camp-style workouts with the Marines and the Army.
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