COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The National Strength and Conditioning Association announced that East Carolina’s Jeff Connors has been selected as the NSCA’s College Strength and Conditioning Coach-of-the-Year for 2017.
Connors becomes the 36th recipient of the award, which has been handed out since 1980. Award winners are selected by a volunteer committee, the NSCA’s Coaching Task Force, who determine the winner based on their contributions to the NSCA, their community and the coaching profession.
He is in his sixth year of his second tour of duty as ECU’s Assistant Athletics Director for Strength and Conditioning after rejoining the Pirates’ staff January 21, 2011. Connors took over ECU’s top athletic performance position after spending 10 seasons on the University of North Carolina staff as strength and conditioning coordinator and assistant athletics director.
His current assignment at East Carolina marks his second stint with the Pirate program after an earlier 10-year strength and conditioning leadership tenure with head football coaches Bill Lewis (1991 season) and Steve Logan (1992-2000). In all, Connors’ efforts have helped produce eight bowl appearances, four post-season victories, 16 National Football League draft selections and representation in two final Top 25 polls (9/1991, 23/1995).
He is also credited for playing an integral role in the design and development of the Pirates’ 22,000-square-foot strength and conditioning facility inside the Murphy Center, which opened in 2002 after his departure.
“Congratulations to Coach Connors for this well-deserved award,” said Scott Caulfield, NSCA’s Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. “He has been involved with the NSCA since its early days and has made significant contributions to the field during his tenure as a coach. Jeff has helped many athletes and young coaches make it to the next level in their careers and he epitomizes what it is to be an NSCA professional. We are proud to have him as a member.”
At North Carolina he helped develop some of the top players in the Tar Heels’ football program, including NFL players Julius Peppers, Jason Brown, Ronald Curry, David Thornton, Kentwan Balmer and Hakeem Nicks. Peppers, Balmer and Nicks all were first-round picks. During Connors’ career at UNC, 73 of 77 all-time football strength and conditioning records improved and the Heels went to five bowl games and produced 27 NFL draft picks.
Connors, 60, is a frequently requested speaker asked to present his strength and conditioning program and philosophies to clinics and conferences across the country. He was also a competitive powerlifter who won four state titles and held a ranking as high as fourth nationally. Connors holds Level I certification in Olympic Weight Lifting by the U.S. Weight Lifting Federation and has had numerous articles published in Wrestling USA, NSCA Career Development Guide, Training and Conditioning Magazine and Bigger Faster Stronger Journal.
In 2013, Connors authored his first book – Strength Coach, A Call To Serve – which not only chronicles his illustrious career, but outlines a distinctive philosophy he has crafted during his calling in the profession. The part-memoir, part-training manual offers readers inspirational and spiritual insight into both his heart and head.
His induction into the USA Strength & Conditioning Coaches Hall of Fame during the summer of 2016 makes Connors one of only three strength coaches nationally who have been honored in that manner by both major organizations in the strength and conditioning industry.
Additionally, Connors was inducted into the Washington-Greene Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 and was one of only 25 invitees nationally to attend the United States Marine Corps Executive Forum (MCEF) at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. in 2014.
Connors will receive his award at the NSCA’s Coaches Conference which will be conducted on Jan. 4-6, 2017 in Nashville, Tenn. The conference brings together the best of the best from all reaches of the strength and conditioning industry to provide an educational experience unlike any other. From cutting-edge presentations to dynamic hands-on sessions by renowned professors, researchers, and strength coaches, attendees receive the tools to help expand their knowledge and further their careers. For more information regarding the NSCA and their awards, please visit www.nsca.com.
Other 2017 NSCA Coach-of-the-Year Award recipients include the Miami Heat’s Bill Foran (professional) and Western Kentucky’s Domenic Reno (assistant).
The National Strength and Conditioning Association is an international nonprofit professional association founded in 1978 and is dedicated to advancing the strength and conditioning profession around the world.