Ever since Craig Fitzgerald was hired in January, he’s been putting his own mark on Penn State's strength and conditioning format.
Fitzgerald gave the team’s weight room a makeover that was finished in the spring and he has implemented a new lifting program. In addition to that, the Nittany Lions’ new strength and conditioning coach has now added his personal touch to what has become a Penn State weight lifting tradition.
This year’s Penn State Football Uplifting Athletes “Lift for Life” event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. this afternoon at the Penn State Lacrosse Field, and it will have a new twist. Behind Fitzgerald's idea, the Penn State offense is having a friendly competition against its defense to see which side can raise more money for the Kidney Cancer Association.
The event was first held at Penn State in 2003, and this is the first time it’s ever pitted the offense against the defense.
“He enjoys putting competition into a bunch of our offseason conditioning drills,” offensive tackle Mike Farrell said about Fitzgerald. “It brings out the best in us and because his workouts allow for everyone to be on the field at the same time.”
According to a press release, more than 80 players are slated to be competing in the event with offensive linemen competing against their defensive counterparts, the tight ends and running backs facing linebackers, and the quarterbacks and wide receivers going head to head against defensive backs in Fitzgerald's new plan.
Competitions feature an obstacle course, a sled push, a tire flip and a tug of war.
Farrell, a senior who played in 10 games last season, is the current president of Penn State's chapter of Uplifting Athletes. The Pittsburgh native said he is glad to be a part of great experience that has grown at Penn State over the years.
“During the year we do have a lot of offseason events,” Farrell said. “But this one really shows how the football team can contribute to the community.”
Last year’s installment of “Lift for Life” at Penn State saw the team rake in over $100,000, giving them a nine-year grand total of over $600,000 raised.
Though this is the first time coach Bill O'Brien, Fitzgerald and seven other new coaches on the staff are experiencing the charity event, Farrell said the new staff has embraced the event from day one.
“We found out we were getting a new head coach, we obviously weren’t going to walk in and tell him ‘this is how we do things around here,’ ” Farrell said. “We went in and talked about the future of the event, and they were very supportive from day one from what they’ve said. And they've really shown that with the actions they’ve done.”