(Story first published by The Springfield Student)
Adam Feit walked back onto the Springfield College campus during the 2018 preseason. As a familiar face to the Pride family, he attended team events, but more importantly, worked to challenge each team physically and mentally.
Imagine oneself sitting at a table, examining a quarter. On the quarter are different inscriptions: “Quarter Dollar,” “United States of America,” “Liberty,” a state name, the year the coin was produced, and the head of George Washington.
Feit has challenged each preseason team to pick up this coin and inspect it. He tells them to hold it in the palm of their hand, to recognize its features. Then, he asks how many sides make up the silver shining object.
While many people will say two, the correct answer is three.
This activity is to prove that many athletes focus on the field work and what they can do to make themselves stronger in the weight room, but forget about the grooved side of the coin.
That third side represents the mental edge, which most athletes and coaches forget.
Feit, a graduate of the Springfield College Class of 2006 is back for the Pride as the Coordinator of Physical and Mental Performance.
“Within that role, I am charged with overseeing the physical and mental of the football team as well as mentoring our strength and conditioning coaches on the value of mental skills training for their athletes,” Feit said. “As a second-year doctoral student, I am actively using my coursework and mentoring from the sport and exercise psychology department to help sharpen the mental edge of our student-athletes and coaches. During my time here, I plan to become a certified mental performance consultant (CMPC) and bridge the gap between technical and physical performance through the mental aspect of training.”
Included in Feit’s attempts to connect physical and mental performance is the importance of routines, winning each day, and reaching one’s full potential.
Many college students fall victim to the strict nature of routine. Whether they enjoy following a set schedule or allowing some flexibility within their day, each student struggles to keep their routine intact. Feit, however, does not follow either of these methods.
When he wakes up in the morning, his response is not to think about making coffee, or getting to the gym at the same time. His first task is to be sure that he schedules uninterrupted time with his wife and two children.
His second task is to think about the various objectives that he must accomplish and set a baseline for what makes each day a success or failure.
Routine is something that Feit has identified that collegiate athletes are in dire need of. However, with a tight schedule forcing each student to run from class to practice and then to the library, these athletes have a tendency to fall in and out of their daily disciplines which ultimately brings them back to their default unproductive patterns.
Feit uses an ice cube tray as a metaphor to teach the importance of routine. An ice cube tray when full proves to be very sturdy with definition and structure. That same ice cube tray must also show traits of flexibility if the ice cubes were to ever come out. In a simple translation, this example tells its users to keep a similar schedule, but not to be afraid of change.
Routine can also be an aid to winning each day, which along with striving to reach one’s full potential, are two more goals that Feit brings to the minds of his athletes.
Using his experiences as a professional presenter and strength and conditioning coach, Feit has worked with Springfield College Football, Field Hockey, and Women’s Volleyball teams in his first few months back in Massachusetts. With these teams, he expressed the importance of seeking excellence within yourself and those around you.
Since meeting with Feit during the preseason, athletes have been very receptive to his message, resulting in a combined 18-2 record to begin their seasons.
With many new members to the Springfield College Field Hockey program, team workshops were something that Feit offered and became a key component to assuring the team’s smooth transition into a new campaign.
“A huge thing that he brought to us was positive self-talk.” senior Emmalie Drake said. “Overall we’ve seen some very positive energy and an inviting atmosphere. Everyone’s on the same page, we’re all in this to win it and we’re doing some great things on the field.”
As a collegiate athlete, Feit was a captain of the Pride’s football team under head coach Mike Delong. He also received many accolades in his NCAA career including a First-Team All-America selection as an offensive lineman and First-Team All-Empire Eight honors in 2006.
When describing himself as an athlete, Feit states that he was “a methodical player” and always understood the importance of the little things.
Prior to his professional career, Feit did his undergraduate coursework as an Applied Exercise Science major and found strength and conditioning to be a passion early on.
Feit discovered a plethora of career opportunities at premier Division I institutions including the University of Connecticut, Arizona State University, and The Citadel. He has also spent time at the University of Louisville. It was here where he was responsible for implementing a nutritional education program for the football players and developed an NCAA-compliant supplement program for college athletes.
Following those experiences, he became the youngest head strength and conditioning coach in Division I at Eastern Michigan University.
In addition to the collegiate level, he has also worked with some of the world’s best athletes as a part of the United States Olympic Committee and the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, becoming their assistant strength and conditioning coach and nutrition coordinator.
It was during his stint in the NFL where Feit realized that his passion not only lies in strength and conditioning but also in sports psychology. This realization came after meeting with the sports psychologist for the Carolina Panthers.
“We talked about what my life purpose was and where I wanted to go,” Feit said. “He helped me figure out that it wasn’t in the NFL, because here it’s a business. Everything comes down to, ‘Did you do it?’ or, ‘Did you not do it?’ Imagine relying all of your success and all of your happiness and all of your validation on whether you win or not. And I just knew that wasn’t going to be the place for me at this time in my coaching career.”
Even though his experience is mostly within the realm of athletics, he recognizes that the skills used in defining one’s mental edge are applicable outside of sports.
Gaining and creating consistency with this mental edge can help one’s determination in the completion and success of job applications, interviews, and many other events that play significant roles in all lives.
Using the versatility of the mental edge, Feit believes that mental performance training can be used to view less student-athlete transfers, fewer injuries, and increase the number of wins.
From day one at Springfield College, staff become accustomed to educating students in the three more important aspects of self: Spirit, Mind, and Body. Using the college’s mission, Feit is attempting to gear his own mission of empowerment towards our student-athletes.
“It’s about winning each and every moment in front of you,” Feit said.
“There are so many tools that athletes can use to help them win the day such as distraction control, arousal management, emotional regulation, goal setting, self-talk, and even pre-performance routines. We provide so many great services to our student-athletes on campus. It’s time that we look at the third side of the coin and connect the dots between ‘maybe’ and ‘absolutely.’ There’s no better place to do it than with Springfield College.”