Wisconsin Strength and Conditioning Coach Ross Kolodziej on Leo Chenal, Group Training

Jake Kocorowski

Reporters caught up with Ross Kolodziej on Monday after the team's first voluntary strength and conditioning workout. AllBadgers.com recapped some of the discussion highlighting the regiment laid out for those student-athletes in getting back, along with his thoughts on how they performed. 

Here are more excerpts from the 30-minute conversation with the former defensive lineman turned Wisconsin head football strength and conditioning coach.

Leo Chenal bench pressed how much recently?

The sophomore inside linebacker has shown his strength on social media recently via a Twitter video where he bench-pressed 225 pounds a whopping 40 times.

A question was asked about Leo, and his older brother -- fullback John Chenal -- in terms of what Kolodziej thinks when he sees that feat and also what it means to see student-athletes "bringing that to Madison when they return?"

“It's great. You love it because he's not satisfied at all," Kolodziej said of Leo. "The week before that, he had a video of 315 (pounds) for 18 (reps) which I think is almost even more impressive. You love it. You love that you have those guys. Again, that's the locker room. That's a guy who's on his own training, putting it out there. Having been in that locker room as a man, you look at that video and you say, ‘Dang, like, what am I doing?’ 

"So that's the driving force. It's not me or any other coach, writing a program and saying, 'Do this, do that.' It's got to come from the heart. That's got to be his why, and you see it reflected in everything he does."

The question prior, Kolodziej was asked if there was a player that impressed him from a physical standpoint in terms of lifting and how serious they took the time away. He deferred to "kind of everybody in a way because you haven't seen anyone in 12 weeks."

"You see (cornerback) Faion (Hicks), and you're like, 'Damn, Faion like your shoulders.' (True freshman outside linebacker) Nick Herbig is a guy, I walked into the gym today, and I'm like, ‘Whoa, he took advantage of the time.’

“The Chanel brothers (fullback John and inside linebacker Leo), they always look like they're ready to go, and I could go down the list. Like I said, it would be hard. I think to me, that's probably why I'm most excited about today is it wasn't like, ‘Oh wow, these eight guys crushed it, but these four just stood out because they didn't do anything.' It was the group.

"We did a some mini-hurdle work and some ground response and their reaction times and how quick they were moving through those drills, you're just like, ‘Alright, we're gonna be fine. We're gonna be just fine.' Those are a handful guys but like I said, I could sit here all day and go through the 100 guys and each guy and what they impressed with today.”

Players are only able to work in groups of 10 in their own separate racks or areas as announced last week by Wisconsin's atheltic department while the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Kolodziej discussed what could potentially be lost when the student-athletes do not have the same, close interaction with each other compared to a larger group setting in years past.

“I mean there's great data on the physical touching component -- high-fives, hugs right after a PR, 20 guys piling on you to celebrate -- so there is a psychological component that will be absent in that way," Kolodziej said. "But I do also know that through a shared adversity, there is another opportunity for great growth as well. So I think that while we may not be able to do those things, we're able to work in this environment, which is something nobody's ever done before. I think we can also rally around that as well and use that whenever we do get the green light to bring 50 guys back. 

"Again, I don't know where those points are in the process, but at some point, we're going to have to get there, right? Those are the things we can look back on and rally around and continue even in these smaller groups."

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