Alan Babbitt Welcome to the Hope College Athletics Orange and Blue Podcast. My name is Alan Babbitt. I am the sports information director here for Hope College. I look forward each week to help you get to know some of the people that make our one team Hope College really special. Certainly one of those, trying to come up with words to describe him. man of a million steps, maybe selling him a little short. There's just a lot of things. Dan Margritz, of the many hats he wears, most notably the strength and conditioning coach for Hope College, also linebackers coach for the football team and father and husband, father of two awesome twins, which we'll talk about later. Welcome, Dan, thanks for squeezing me in today. I know your schedule with the school you're going is pretty busy, but take me through a day of life. What time does Dan Margritz get up in the morning to get his day started?
Dan Margritz Thanks for having me on. So typical day, I'd say it's like a Monday through Friday type thing. Today is Friday. I've been up since 3:45 this morning. I've been on campus in the weight room by about 4:30. The first team comes rolling in at 5:15 in the morning. It's get here early make sure things set up and ready to go. Music blasting at 4:45 and pretty much the only people here that early are me and the custodian crew. So we get, we get to know each other pretty well. The day starts early. Get breakfast. Get here. Get everything rolling. The first team comes rolling in at 5:15. Sometimes I don't have a team until six. I actually don't get here till like 5:15. I actually get to sleep in on a day like that. Then, usually, I got teams till about 9:30 or 10 a.m. The cleaning crew comes and does some good deep cleaning that they do an awesome job at. Then I head home and get in my workout and get in lunch and get ready for the afternoon because then I'm back here by 1:30 to start my 2:30 teams. If we don't have football practice I got teams at 2:30, 3:30, 4:30 and occasionally 5:30. If we have football practice. I have a 2:30 team then go out to practice and go until six. Then, I go home and play with my kids and say hi to my wife and eat dinner and then go to bed and do it all again the next day.
Alan Babbitt I follow you on Twitter. What's your average number of steps you'll do in a day?
Dan Margritz [This week I'm averaging 30,000 steps a day. I'm getting 15 miles walked every single day. So today it's 8:30 in the morning here and I've already walked six miles just in the weight room this morning. That's busy.
Alan Babbitt That's crazy because I mean, a normal person like me, we're trying to get over 10k. I feel accomplished at 10K. You get 10k probably before you even get on campus. How do you keep up? You're obviously in great shape too. Food wise, what do you eat to be able to keep up that pace?
Dan Margritz The base thing I always tell people is your body when you wake up. Your body knows it needs calories but doesn't necessarily know it needs breakfast food. I eat foods that normal people would eat (for other meals). I get dinner for breakfast. My breakfast I get a meal prep company. They ship it to me from North Carolina, so that way it's already premade, precut. I've just got to heat it up in the morning, so it saves me a ton of time. For example, yesterday I had the women's soccer team in here at 6 a.m. and I was like 'Guess what I had for breakfast today?' I had chicken enchilada lasagna for breakfast, which was about 480 calories, a little turkey bacon. After all my teams are done I have protein. II always have like a meal, 500 calories. Little turkey bacon added about 100 calories. So I have about 600, 700 calories before I even start working with teams because I'll burn up super quick. then I hit protein afterward before I work out. Then I'll do my own personal workout, have more protein at lunch and keep going. I always have to make sure I eat solid meals of protein, carbs, fats in order to keep going on this base.
Alan Babbitt What do you do for a workout? Obviously, this is what you do with the teams that we have here at Hope College. What do you do for yourself to keep in shape?
Dan Margritz A lot of the things I do with our athletes are the same things I might do with myself. I'll make programs for them. And I actually do like the same program a couple of weeks at a time just to make sure. I know if they're gonna whether they're gonna be sore at or I don't know how their body feels from doing that workout. I do a lot of the workouts that these teams do on my own. A lot of times we do single leg, single like Dallas full of dumbbells. That's a big hamstrings stability type of movement. I do those a lot with myself. I'm like, oh, this is definitely you're going to feel it in your hamstrings. And so I tell them how it's going to feel because I've actually got it myself. But now with well, back during the quarter team in the lockdown, I had to get really creative. I've got squat racks and treadmills in the upper house and I get really creative. I personally didn't burn out from doing the same stuff over and over and over again. I get creative over time, but I get a good mix and usually, I would run or walk or do some type of cardio activity every day during the lockdown. But now that I'm walking fifty miles a day, I don't really think as much as much cardio to focus more on the weightlifting side of it, since I don't have as much time of the day for that.
Alan Babbitt You alluded to it's been an interesting time for all of us and especially for strength and conditioning coordinators, when you when we came back and started the semester back in mid-August. You couldn't get inside. We can't use the gyms. We can't do the things we normally do to start a school year. Take me through that process of when you had to figure out a new way to get our athletes engaged and building strength. What are some of the things you did during that time to try to make the most of what we can do?
Dan Margritz When everything they kind of went down in March, April, and then May comes, we're on summer break. Usually, the kids all get programs for lifting back at their high school or lift at a public gym back home or even here in Holland. Then everything gets shut down. They still have the same program, so if they had weights at their house so I could use that. But then I had to get creative and make body weight type workouts for them to try and simulate things we would do. I told a lot of kids like, hey, when we're doing our squad, since we got any weight, fill up a backpack with as many books as you can and put it on so that we get at least like 20 pounds lighter weight. A little bit of variety like that. Then trying to mix up like sprint workouts to get power in and conditioning in that way. But once we got back on campus, it was so crazy because we're on campus. Usually we can use a facility, but it's all dark. We can't use it yet. I had to do workouts outside, so I'd have teams out at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium. We did basketball workouts out on the turf, even though that was unique because a lot of basketball teams are not used to run or having to do things not on a hardwood floor. We got them and coaches out of their bubble thinking that way. We do a lot of bodyweight circuit type work when we were outside. We were doing timed squats and your partner's doing lunges at the same time, or we do partner things where one person got to do 50 pushups and the other person doing mountain climbers while they're doing, then they the switch. Just trying to get variety by the same time, you could really not simulate what we do in the weight room with body weight only. Then we just opened the weight room maybe two weeks ago. A lot of planning this summer so we could try and open up. Ended up not happening, then we kind of use the same protocol to open up two weeks ago. We have limitations of 25 at a time in the weight room. I've got teams, for example, like football, we've got 110 guys so I've got to split that group in at four or five groups and then swimming, we got three groups. Pretty much every team on camp is split into two, three, four, five groups at times. So my workload up of ten teams to get in goes up to 30 teams to get in. My days get crazy just trying to schedule everybody to fit in workouts and training sessions in with me and in the field.
Alan Babbitt I know the strength and conditioning coaches are a pretty tight group and you communicate and share ideas with each other. Where did you come up with some of the ideas? Is it following them? Based on what you've done? Where did you draw?
Dan Margritz The biggest thing was a lot of high schools were able to do workouts outside early, so they were able to do like high school workouts back in July. A lot of that I got from some high school strength coaches that I know what they are doing with their teams and got took some stuff like that and modified it for us. Then I'm really good friends with the strength coach over Detroit, Mercy over on the east side. We'd have some Zoom calls over the quarantine to just talk shop about different stuff. Then I was on some Zooms with some of the big Division I schools out on the West Coast, the PAC 12 and a couple of Big Ten schools. We just talked about how to get the most of our football guys in particular, because these are football strength coaches when we had no access to the summertime. A lot of it comes from bunch of minds together just trying to come up with ways we can make the best of this situation. A lot of it comes down to I've got to do a background in personal training. I did personal training with some general population done in Tennessee before I was strength coach. A lot of that came from, we have a extremely deconditioned person. They can't really do a barbell squat, so how am I going to do that body weight wise to build them up? I had to draw back to what my personal training group fitness type stuff for the body weight movements.
Alan Babbitt I would imagine I mean, having that kind of resource where you can bounce ideas and friends like that, that just has to be huge and kind of imagine a big part of your career just because you can all you can all help each other.
Dan Margritz That's huge. The networking and we call it talk shop when you're strength coaches. They sit around and just talk. And now it's Zoom calls. Usually you sit in people's offices, you just talk about lifting things and get a lift in together. Networking within the field is huge for us.
Alan Babbitt Did you always know you wanted to be a strength and conditioning coach? Obviously you had a start in personal training. Was that something you knew you wanted to do or did you find your way as a young adult?
Dan Margritz In high school, high school, I was into football and I played football, basketball and track. I was big in athletics. I was also kind of like designing things like architecture. I debated that a little bit. But then in Nebraska, where I'm from originally the only school you can do architecture is the University, Nebraska, and I go, I want to play football. I'm obviously not going to be an architect. That I went to college originally to be a PE teacher and a coach. My freshman year, I sat in on a sixth-grade health class as an observation, and the teacher had kids jumping on tables and no control of the room. I thought, there is no way I'm going to get into something like this, so I switched majors and got into exercise science fitness studies. My first year of college I ruptured my Achilles. I spent a lot of time rehabbing and getting stronger that way.I feel like my passion, my drive, came from having to get stronger myself because of an injury.
Alan Babbitt That's a serious injury, too. How tough was that mentally just to try to come back?
Dan Margritz My freshman year, I came in as a running back at tailback and we had a bunch guys in position. I made all through fall camp two-a-days. It was the last scrimmage. I tore my Achilles catching a plane. I was the No. 1 punt returner for varsity. I was gonna be like the guy on the punt return every Saturday with the big guys. Catch a punt, take one step and snap. I run off the field. And I tell the trainer, hey, I think I'd sprained an ankle. He's like feeling on me and stretching it out. He said you might have pulled your Achilles. He gives me this cup to put in my shoe. a heel cup to get my reps in on offense. And I try to put my cleat on, and my foot is just kind of flopping around. That was kind to the end of that. I had surgery maybe four days later and I think the biggest thing was especially mentally. I was football, workouts all the time. It was how I born and raised, then I couldn't do anything for pretty much four months. Well, I wasn't supposed to do anything for months. Then I would do things that our athletic training crew at Hope College would not have approved if they were at my school. I was on a stationary bike like three days after surgery, trying to bike with my leg in a splint and on crutches. I really pushed my limits. But at the same time, it sucked because I couldn't be out there playing football. But then from an injury standpoint of an athlete, I understood the concept of all right, I'm not going to play. So I got to learn as much of the offense, or as much of the program as I can, so I don't get behind mentally everybody else. I was able to I came back a lot quicker than what was projected, I actually played spring practice full pads in March, which was probably like that was like six months after surgery. I was extremely fortunate that I recovered and rehabbed as quickly as I did because I realized. It was a wild time.
Alan Babbitt Take me to your path to Hope College. Obviously, being from Nebraska and you were in Memphis, if I remember correctly. It's not necessarily a college may not be as well known there as maybe some other schools. How did you find Hope College and the opportunity to become here for our first strength and conditioning coach?
Dan Margritz Yes, I grew up in Nebraska. I went to Concord University, Nebraska, right out of Lincoln, and then I got married after college and we moved down to Memphis, Tennessee. My wife was at an optometry school and I worked out there and some high schools, a strength coach and a football coach. I worked at the world headquarters of FedEx and did corporate wellness for about a year, running that kind of thing and realized corporate wellness was not for me. I'm more of the athletic field. So that's what I was all strength and conditioning and athletics for a couple of years after that. Then my wife was about to graduate and I said, hey, where are we going to go when you graduate in May? She said, wherever you can get a job will go. I had applied to a bunch of different schools and I verbally accepted an offer at a small school down in Florida. The cost of living was going to be crazy, so I turned that down. Then, there's a school in Michigan and I thought that would be cool. I got a call filled out all stuff and did some interviews and they flew me in on a Sunday, did interview on Monday, and I was back home in Memphis by Monday night. But before that 24 hours, I had been in Michigan, for maybe a day. Back in 2007, I was in Detroit and I was on a tour like the Ford manufacturing plant back when the economy was terrible and the recession hit. All I knew of Michigan was that one day in 2007, while I was in Detroit. I was Michigan is a little interesting. Then we came and said, I guess we're moving to Holland. I had never heard of Hope College until I filed the application looking for a head strength and conditioning coach in West Michigan. It looks like fun. Here we go. I always tell people, especially kids who are graduating, to take chances and get outside your comfort zone. There's a lot of kids live in a bubble of West Michigan, East Michigan or Indiana. I would like there where they're used to and where they're comfortable at. But you're going to learn so much more about yourself when you get out of your comfort zone. My closest family member, or with my wife's close family member, is probably 800 miles away. When you're 800 hundred miles from people you know, you've got to figure out how to fix your car yourself or do these yourself or do this. You've got to really learn how to take care of yourself. It's good just to get out of your comfort zone and experience life that way.
Alan Babbitt I know there are some things that still in your comfort zone. I follow you on Twitter just to see what you're putting on the grill each day. Talk to me about your love of barbecue and meats. I know it's more than the average person. I think it's your father was a grand champion. Talk about that and your kind of affinity for being able to, you know, obviously do meat right. And I just find it fascinating.
Dan Margritz This just goes way back to my childhood. I grew up on a farm and we had cattle, about 300 cattle on a feedlot, plus a bunch of corn and everything. We had meat all the time. We'd have beef almost every meal. My dad would grill hamburgers, steaks. We have roasts. We'd have steak on a rotisserie. We grew chickens so we'd have chickens all the time. We'd eat eight-pound chickens we'd harvest. I grew up around meat and grilling where we grilled year-round. we would grill in the summertime. We'd grill in the wintertime. We'd have a blizzard my dad would be out there other grilling for us. And then I was in 4-H growing up and I was on a judging team. My dad actually won a national championship in Nebraska for judging meat back in like 1979I think is what it is. He was the last national champion from the state of Nebraska, judging meat. So judging meat, I'd have to go into a meat cooler, meat locker and they had all these cuts of meat laying out. I have to tell what kind of meat it was and what kind animal it was. Beef, pork, chicken, lamb, where it came from on the animal, what the actual cut is called and how to cook it. I had to judge them based on the size, the color, how much fat is on it. I then won a state championship and went and competed for a national championship in 2006. I was just like a sophomore in high school. I competed against teams from Texas A&M and LSU I ended getting 15th overall in the nation. Then we'd go down to Memphis. And Memphis is like the barbecue capital of the world. It's best barbecue I've ever eaten in my life. Memphis has barbecue this and barbecue that. We have barbecue nachos and we'd have barbecue ribs and the things you barbecue that you didn't even think of barbecued that barbecue spaghetti, which was spaghetti with a sauce they make a barbecue base and then barbecue pork, smoked pork on top of it. Crazy good. I learned about barbecue more in depth about smoked barbecue down there, because Nebraska, you get ribs or barbecue, everything's covered in barbecue sauce. You go down south into Memphis in particular, and it's more dry, it's more seasoned and smoked. If you want sauce, you're gonna put it on yourself. Then we came up here and I had my grilling background from grown up. I got a smoker. (Women's basketball coach Brian) Morehouse actually gave me one of his old smokers. I started getting a little bit of that. Then I got a big fancy smoker this year and I've been smoking pork. I smoked 36 pounds of pork in a month and the month of August alone, and I shredded it and freezes in my freezer and I actually ship in barbecue seasoning from Memphis thing. I know if I'm going to be smoking something good. It's got to be the best seasoning on it. It takes a lot of time to make something like that smoking for 12, 15 hours, but when it's done the product is pretty good. (Head football coach) Peter Stuursma is always trying to send me picture of his, saying his grill is better, his smoking's better as it. I said, this isn't even close. You don't even know how to smoke here from Michigan. I came from Tennessee. This is real smoke.
Alan Babbitt I remember a story there was a baseball coach, the West Michigan Whitecaps, Matt Walbeck from Texas. He was looking for Tex-Mex stuff. People would recommend stuff to him, but it was like, no, that's not authentic.
Dan Margritz We go to Hog Wild Barbecue here in Holland. It's not bad. It's good for West Michigan, but compared to Tennessee it's not even close. I always tell them, like, hey, we got a road trip down in Memphis, one of these weekends that now we don't have football games. Just eat barbecue and hang out down in the south again.
Alan Babbitt That sounds good. I'll be up for that road trip when we can do that. And obviously, if you didn't have enough going on your plate, you're a dad of two awesome twin girls that even Presley and Ana. Having one kid is enough, let alone having twins. Talk about being a dad and what's that been like for you the past year, year and a half.
Dan Margritz They're about a year. My twins are a year and almost two months. They're born August 1st of 2019. So last year we had the twins right before fall camp. It was maybe a week before fall camp. It was wild. I went out. We were at the hospital maybe four days. I get home and it was three days before fall camp started. I went from two kids being born to fall camp. Just whirlwind crazy. Then they started crawling right before quarantine happened. Quarantine come,, shuts down daycare that they go to. So my wife went back to work in May. Since she's an eye doctor. she's considered essential. I was taking care of two twins, four from 9 a.m. to five p.m. every day for like a month and a half. And holy cow. It was something. That was work. But it's a fun time now because they're used they're now starting to learn how to, like, hurl basketballs and bounce balls. Presley can almost run right now. It's kind of fun. They're more interactive compared to the first few months or they just got let me around and you got to pick them up to move them everywhere. When I get up at 3:00 a.m. and they start crying at midnight. It's not very enjoyable that time. But that's it's fun. It's a good time. We went to the Critter Barn last weekend, down in Zealand. It's a bunch of different farm animals, pigs, cows, goats. We went out there before the rain came to stop, to get away from everything just because of how busy I've been. We don't have football games so I've got to find something to do on Saturdays. They're starting to learn about animals, so they enjoyed that. Ava is technically the oldest by one minute and she's more like my wife: more calm and collected and cool. And Presley, who's born later, is the more loud and wild, be like that crazy one — more like me. We actually got the name Presley actually because of Memphis, coming from Memphis where Elvis Presley was born. Presley definitely has personality more like me. Ava is more calm and quiet like Tabitha.
Alan Babbitt [00:22:45] I have two kids, not twins, but I have my youngest is more like my wife and my oldest is more like me. Do you find it harder, the one that's unlike your or like you. I find I struggle more with the kid that's more like me because I'm like Kid. I know what you're doing because that's my how my brain is wired. Or is it the opposite?
Dan Margritz Ava is usually quiet and calm, but Ava now likes to bite. Presley does something to Ava, and she'll bite. If Presley takes something from Ava, like a toy, Ava is going to try and bite her. Tabitha is always 'Don't bite' I say, Hey if she bites hard enough she's not going to do it.' You gotta learn not to do it. There's a lot of times like they do things like they're definitely doing this because they know they shouldn't be doing this. They'll go up and grab like the cable cord on the wall. They'll start playing with it, look at us and laugh. Presley does that a lot. Just looks at us a last say go. Don't do that, Presley. It is like you're doing this because you know you're not supposed to do it. My parents always tell me that Presley looks like me now as a baby, I'm like, okay, she's definitely right exactly how I was. I feel bad for my parents just because I was probably wild for that.
Alan Babbitt Oh, man, it is funny how that works. But as he said, it's awesome being a dad and watching them, watching them grow so well. Hey, I know you got some more steps to get in and get ready, so I will let you go. But thanks for joining me, Dan, on the Hope Athletics Orange and Blue podcast. We look forward to seeing you hopefully with some contests here with Hope athletic teams sooner than later.
Dan Margritz Thank you much.