BY VALENTINE J. BRKICH
Todd Hamer is in his sixth season as RMU's head coach for strength and conditioning. He trains athletes in each of the university's 23 NCAA Division I sports teams. A Moon Township native, Hamer came home after holding similar jobs at George Mason University, Marist College, and The Citadel. He earned a B.S. from Penn State and a master's degree in sports leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University. He can bench press 430 pounds, squat lift 545 pounds, and deadlift 540, and is a competitive powerlifter and former Virginia state champion.
What's something people might find surprising about your job?
The depth of the science involved. If one does not understand Newtonian laws, they can't be a strength coach.
What do you find most rewarding about working with student athletes?
Being invited to their weddings and other important life events, years after they graduate, is always an honor. To me it shows that I have made an impact.
Why do you think we struggle with obesity in the U.S.?
A lot of it has to do with the food we eat. We have to make changes. Eat local. I truly believe the answer lies in the current "slow food" movement.
What three books should everyone read?
Collapse by Jared Diamond, In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, and The Jungle by Upton Sinclair — everyone should read this 100 times and then we may appreciate our lives more.
You've done the Pittsburgh-to-D.C. bike ride four times. What's your next big adventure?
I have powerlifting meets coming up, plus the D.C. ride again in May, and then the 34-mile Rachel Carson Trail Challenge in June. Maybe a hot-dogeating contest? Local meat of course.
What do you enjoy most about competitive lifting?
The camaraderie of the lifters. I’ll be walking to the platform for an attempt, and a lifter in my class will be cheering me on or helping me prep for the lift. It’s not about winning; it’s about overcoming the battle.
What would be your "deserted island" CD?
Maybe Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks." But I may have to throw some heavy metal in my carry-on too.
What's your favorite quote?
It's by Marianne Willamson: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us."
What famous people do you look up to?
Many. Abe Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Henry Rollins — I have had the honor of seeing him speak many times — and any Renaissance man or woman.