Sept. 25, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Kyle Schlicher did his part to protect leads for the University of Iowa football team from 2004-06 with field goals and point-after kicks. Now he is doing his part to protect the interests of the United States at home and abroad by training Navy SEAL candidates in Waukegan, Ill.
"It is a very, very, very small fraction of that part, but no matter how big or small it is, it is still very gratifying," Schlicher said. "There is a lot of honor in what I do and I'm very fortunate for that."
Since Oct. 1, 2007, Schlicher has been strength and conditioning coach for the Naval Special Warfare BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) School at Great Lakes U.S. Naval Base. He educates and trains Navy SEAL candidates by increasing their physical fitness and mental confidence before they are sent to California to begin actual SEAL preparation.
"I play a small part in their ultimate success as a SEAL later on down the road, and that to me is rewarding," Schlicher said. "I train my guys similar to the way coach (Chris) Doyle trained us."
Doyle is in his 13th season as strength and conditioning coach for the UI football program; Schlicher, a native of Ankeny, Iowa, was a kicker for the Hawkeyes from 2002-06. He made 51 career field goals and 107 PATs for 260 points -- fourth-best in UI history. During that time Iowa played in the Outback Bowl twice as well as the Orange, Capital One and Alamo bowls.
"My dream job would be to come back and help coach Doyle, but that's a pretty tall order," Schlicher said. "I don't know if I would ever be able to live up to his expectations as a strength and conditioning coach, but that definitely would be my dream job."
How Schlicher got his current job is an interesting story, but a chapter of life he doesn't talk much about. Quite frankly, he couldn't find a job, so his wife found it for him. Schlicher married Holly Ann Lopez, the 2005 UI Homecoming Queen, and while he unsuccessfully chased a professional kicking career, she landed a teaching job in her home state of Illinois.
"It was a really tough time. I needed all the help I could get and fortunately I had a loving, caring wife to help me out and found the job for me," Schlicher said. "She's the one who really pushed me in that direction, and I owe her for making me step up."
The advertised job description had two basic requirements: be a former Division I athlete who has a degree in a health-related field. Schlicher earned a bachelor's degree in health and sports studies from the UI in Dec., 2006.
"I got a phone call the next day and was hired (by Blackwater Security Consulting)," Schlicher said.
For two months, Schlicher and 14 other "civilian coaches" went through SEAL-esque training to get a taste of what the candidates would experience. Schlicher called it a "weeding out process" and before the first class of candidates arrived, five of the original coaches had either quit or been fired because they couldn't handle the physicality of the workouts.
"There was no way I was going to quit, I've been through harder stuff," Schlicher said. "I went through five years at Iowa going through a lot of that training. This was also my first job out of college, and there was no way I was going to go home and tell my wife that I couldn't do it or explain to my (former UI football coaches) that I couldn't hack it."
Schlicher coaches in an environment designed to build the candidates into the best possible physical shape before they are "broken down" at BUD/S. He also stresses nutrition, sports psychology and injury performance. Between 200 to 300 candidates ages 18 to 35 begin each class and 150 to 160 are shipped to California after the 15-week regimen.
The program is paying off. By 2012, the United States Navy wanted to have 2,500 SEALS; they surpassed that number a year ago.
"We've done a good job," Schlicher said. "All we have done is educated these guys and increased their athletic ability. BUD/S has not changed."
Schlicher and his wife, who is in her first year of tenured teaching in Hanover Park, Ill., are building a home in Arlington Heights.
"I am proud of what the two of us have built," Schlicher said. "We pretty much started from nothing and have made ourselves quite a life."
Schlicher has multiple professional certifications in the field of strength and conditioning. He wants to make a career out of strength and conditioning, but he doesn't think military is his forte.
"For right now this is a great job," Schlicher said. "It's fun and at the end of the day it is rewarding. Knowing that whatever is going on overseas and the protection of our freedom here as Americans, there is no question that I have played a little part."