When Tim Schilcher was appointed the new interscholastic strength and conditioning coach at Fox Chapel Area High School in June, he could barely wait to meet the student- athletes and get them started on the preseason training programs he had created especially for them.
“I have so many ideas to help the players gain the strength and endurance they need in order to reach their peak performance in a safe manner,” he explains. “I use a five-phase progressive program that is based on scientific research. Ideally, the program should begin five months prior to an athlete’s first game.”
Coach Schilcher more than qualified to take on that weighty task.This outgoing and dedicated certified personal trainer and performance enhancement specialist has more than five certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine and 20 years of experience. His enthusiasm and deep passion for his craft are evident from the moment you meet him.
When players attend the training sessions, Coach Schilcher’s first focus is on injury prevention. He incorporates a lot of foam rolling, stretching, and flexibility exercises to help prevent avoidable noncontact injuries to the shoulders, knees, hips, ankles, neck, and head. Then, the program moves into optimal performance training. He has scoured the entire campus of Fox Chapel Area High School looking for existing resources that can be used for training, and most often takes advantage of the new pool, sleds, tires, medicine balls, bands, the track, stadium steps, practice fields, and the weight room.
“I like to create individualized programs that are designed for each sport, and even for specific positions. My goals are to teach the kids proper technique, get them out of he old ‘weight room mentality,’ teach them healthy lifestyles, and design efficient workouts that they can use for the rest of their lives,” he says.
So far, he’s been training 60 to 80 members of the school’s fall sports teams on-site. He continues to work with them, and the winter and spring athletes are now starting their programs to get in shape for their seasons. On top of all of that, Coach Schilcher and his assistant, Coach Brandon Peifer, have developed a website that provides information about injury prevention and video instructions for exercises, which are especially helpful for athletes who can’t make it to workouts at the high school. The website contains detailed information about athletes’ nutritional requirements as well.
Ironically, Coach Schilcher’s entrance into the field of personal training came rather serendipitously. He grew up about 20 miles south of Fox Chapel in Bethel Park, where he participated in sports early on. As a kid, he was a basketball and soccer player, but then in fifth grade, he discovered his true passion: football. From that point on, and all through high school and part of his college years, Coach Schilcher’s life was driven by his desire to play football.
He was captain of his high school team and received a scholarship to play football at Fairmont State University in West Virginia, but the trajectory of his life altered dramatically when he sustained a fractured vertebra and bulging disk in his sophomore year.
“At the time, I thought it was the worst thing ever, but when I really thought about it, it was for the best,” admits the outgoing trainer, who now is the father of two teenagers. “I knew I wasn’t going to be better for the next season, so that is when I told my parents to pick me up. My mom found an ad in the local paper for Harmarville Training Institute for a physical therapy technician. I graduated from there, worked full time at an outpatient physical therapy center, and took classes at night. I got accepted to Gannon University and this is when my quest for becoming a physical therapist started.”
He eventually earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Gannon and was accepted into the master’s program in physical therapy there, when once again, his life veered off of his intended path.
When he was home on break, he went to the gym and saw something he had never seen before: someone was working with what appeared to be a client and giving instructions on what to do and how to do it.
“That was before the word ‘personal trainer’ even had a name,” Coach Schilcher remembers. “ I thought ‘This is great,’ and quit the master’s program to go into personal training. I liked the fact that I could use my knowledge of anatomy and physiology and my training in physical therapy.”
Coach Schilcher views his work with Foxes’ athletes, as one of the greatest opportunities he’s had, but says the greatest indicator of success is results. With a much-deserved amount of humble satisfaction, he says, “The coaches are great and a lot of them are very involved with the program. I got good feedback from the boys’ soccer coach, Erik Ingram. He told me this was the first year he’s had so many boys pass their 2-mile timed running test.”
“I know Coach Schilcher will make a huge difference, from a health and wellness perspective, of our student athletes,” says Michael O’Brien, director of athletics for the Fox Chapel Area School District. “I’m very excited about having Tim and Brandon as members of our coaching staff. It’s my anticipation that our athletes take full advantage of their expertise in order to reach their full athletic potential. More importantly, I hope the coaches can instill a life-long passion of being committed to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”