Kent awarded top honor

Mike Kent must have a sense how it feels to win the Heisman Trophy or wear the green jacket at the Masters golf tournament.

Last week during the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches association (CSCCa) convention in Kansas City, Kansas, the 1978 Parkersburg South graduate received the prestigious honor as Master Strength and Conditioning Coach. This award is the highest given in the strength and conditioning profession, and the ceremony is undoubtedly the highlight of the association’s National Conference each year.

Two previous winners of this achievement who also hail from Parkersburg were in attendance – Northwestern’s Al Johnson and Scott Swanson from the U.S. Military Academy. In fact, Johnson presented Kent with the blue MSCC jacket.

Kent has been coaching for 33 years and currently serves as the head football strength and conditioning coach at Colorado State University.

“This is a humbling experience,” Kent said. “Without the student-athlete, I would not have been able to achieve it.”

Since his football playing days at Potomac State and Fairmont State, Kent has logged countless miles. He coached wrestling, and assisted with track at several high schools before entering his current profession on a full-time basis at the collegiate level with the likes of North Carolina State, Appalachian State, East Carolina, Kansas State, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Eastern Kentucky.

On two separate occasions, he coached against his brother, Jeff, and lost both times. Once when Mike Kent was the wrestling coach at East Fairmont and his brother wrestled at Parkersburg South, and again when Mike Kent was coaching at Shepherd College and his brother was a senior at Fairmont State.

Swanson and Kent also hooked up twice when Kent was the strength and conditioning coach at Louisville and Swanson filled the same role for Army.

Kent arrived at Colorado State in January 2012.

Every day, he looks forward going to work. And it’s not just because shorts are the proper attire. He enjoys the bond he creates with student-athletes beyond the training.

“I get to know them as people,” Kent said.

Several of his pupils have enjoyed successful careers at the professional level, including Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch of the New England Patriots and four-time Pro Bowler Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets -to name a few.

“Not only have they become successful in our program, but also in academics and in their social lives,” Kent said. “I’ve been fortunate to have been around some really good people, who have given back and done a lot of special things.”

On occasion, Kent and his wife have been able to visit Parkersburg where his mother-in-law Majorie Strickland resides in Lubeck.

But now that he lives in the Fort Collins, Colo., area, catching up with friends such as Johnson and Swanson is usually done at the annual CSCCa convention.

“I’ve been married almost 31 years and the funniest thing is that I felt so good the other day I think I have 19 years left in me – my wife started laughing,” Kent said. “It’s a privilege and honor to coach. I’ve never really considered it an obligation, but an opportunity.”

Workouts for the Colorado State football team begin the first week of June. The Rams finished 4-8 last season after winning three of their final five games.

“We went through a transition year last year, but we had a lot of success late in the year,” Kent said. “I feel good about the heartbeat of the team, and that we will make it happen.”

Contact Kerry Patrick at kpatrick@newsandsentinel.com