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A Source of Strength: Dartmouth Assistant Keeps Players Healthy

  • Spencer Brown, the Dartmouth College football team's speed, strength and conditioning coach, on Memorial Field during a Nov. 17, 2016, practice. Brown is a key part of the Big Green's successful record thus far. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Spencer Brown, right, and Jerry Brown watch a Sept. 21, 2017, Dartmouth College football practice on Memorial Field. Brown is the team's strength, speed and conditioning coach and Taylor was the receivers coach before moving on to William and Mary earlier this year. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Spencer Brown, right, spots Dartmouth College senior Jarius Brown during warmups for a pro scouting day on March 29, 2018, in the Floren Varsity House's weight room. Spencer Brown is the Big Green football team's strength, speed and conditioning coach. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Spencer Brown, Dartmouth College football's strength, speed and conditioning coach, throws during a Sept. 26, 2017, practice on the Blackman Fields. A former college linebacker, Brown has left his mark on the team during his four years of work with it. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, November 10, 2018

Hanover — Spencer Brown’s business card features a tiny head-shot photo in the lower right corner. This football season, however, Dartmouth College’s director of strength and coordinating has had a big impact on the Big Green’s fortunes.

Luck certainly plays a role in the squad’s amazing avoidance of serious injury this fall. But it’s also increasingly clear that its players are stronger and more resilient. Opposing coaches repeatedly have noted Dartmouth’s physical attributes in post-game quotes and that the line of scrimmage often is controlled by products of Brown’s weight room.

“I give him a lot of the credit,” Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens said. “You look at the body composition of some of our guys compared to our opponents, and that’s all Spencer.”

In his fourth year at Dartmouth and his second overseeing the entire strength and conditioning program, Brown spends most of his time with football. He oozes a quiet passion, but eschews his profession’s stereotype: a bellowing tyrant who pushes players to the breaking point and sometimes beyond.

“He has intensity but he also mixes in humor that helps us do what we need to do every day,” said linebacker David Emanuels, a senior biomechanical engineering major headed for medical school. “He shapes our mental toughness as well as our physical toughness.”

College football strength coaches tumbled into the national spotlight earlier this year when the University of Maryland’s Rick Court resigned after a Terrapins player, Jordan McNair, died following a grueling off-season workout. Wrote the New York Times:

“He seemed to personify the fire-breathing, helmet-smacking, iron-fisted drill instructor, his head shaved bare, whistle dangling from his neck.

“ ‘He’d be in the weight room at 5:30 a.m. and he’d be the most hyped-up, energetic guy there,’ ” Tim Cortazzo, who’d previously played under Court at the University of Toledo, told the newspaper. “The players’ most important relationship is with the strength coach. You’re with them all the time.”

Teevens makes that same point, noting that Brown works with Dartmouth competitors year-round, even when sport coaches aren’t allowed to do some by NCAA rule, or when they are on recruiting trips.

“I know the accountability he instills in our guys and that it’s not ego-driven and all about him,” Teevens said. “Some strength guys, it’s like they created the world and they’re out of control, but he’s a part of our world.

“I never question what he’s doing and why he’s doing it, because it’s all positive and beneficial.”

Brown is the only child of Joda and Beverly Brown. His father, a U.S. Marine and the superintendent of a Florida golf course, paid his son $5.75 an hour to work all day weed-whacking the rough. The youngster developed a healthy respect for snakes and alligators and decided he preferred sweating in his high school weight room.

An all-state high school football player out of New Port Richey, north of Tampa, Brown accepted an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy and spent a semester at its prep school in Newport, R.I. Although he was one of the football team’s better players, he realized he wasn’t cut out for a service academy and he transferred to Lafayette (Penn.) University.

Brown graduated in 2009 with not only a degree in anthropology and sociology, but with two children under the age of 5. He and his wife, Krystal, shared a three-bedroom apartment with Leopards quarterback Rob Curley. Brown insists they had some typical college fun, but maturity often is thrust upon those who have young mouths to feed.

Hired as Lafayette’s assistant strength coach straight out of school, Brown later made a move to nearby Moravian College, an NCAA Division III school, where he oversaw the Greyhounds’ program. He arrived at Dartmouth in 2014, and his influence has been increasingly felt ever since.

“My philosophy is it’s not just what you do, but how you do it,” said Brown, who lives in Hartford with Krystal, son Gavin and daughter Faith. “You don’t line up across from somebody on the field and ask how much weight do they squat. Our lifting numbers aren’t going to blow you away, but we create kids with strong minds.

“People who force things on the kids aren’t helping them do better. If I have to force it on them, they’re not going to do it on their own when they leave.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.