July 17, 2012
The adage is older than he is, and its truthfulness is ageless. It's why Charlie Woida is one of the youngest Division I strength and conditioning directors in the nation.
Woida was named the director of Montana's Athletic Performance Center this week after a national search. Woida spent the last two years working with Montana's athletes as the Center's assistant director.
"Your true character is who you are every day, not just how you come across during an interview," Woida said when asked about stacking up against a deep pool of candidates, most with more experience than he has. "I go about my business every day and take care of what needs to be taken care of.
"I think the coaches know that and trust me, so I think those were pretty big voices of support for me (during the search process)."
Woida's appointment at the age of 29 caps a meteoric rise in the field of collegiate athletic performance for the Eagle Bend, Minn., native.
Woida, who played football and baseball at Fergus Falls (Minn.) Community College and baseball at Division II Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D., did not even begin to consider a future in collegiate athletics until an internship in the spring of 2006 at the National Institute for Fitness and Sport in Indianapolis, Ind.
That opportunity allowed him to work with the volleyball, soccer, basketball and softball teams at Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis.
"Being a strength coach was never really my intention," says Woida, who at the time was leaning toward personal training. "But I was able to be around Division I athletes on a daily basis, and I knew that's where I wanted to be.
"In personal training someone hires you for six months. In this environment it's a year-round setting with a four- or five-year window of development for every student-athlete you work with.
"With teams lifting at the same time and pushing each other to new heights, that's an atmosphere a personal trainer can never duplicate. That's the fun part."
One of the programs Woida worked with as an assistant -- and will likely retain as director -- is coach Mark Plakorus's Big Sky Conference-champion soccer team.
"The players respect Charlie so much and want to work hard for him," said Plakorus, one of the department's coaches who voiced his support of Woida for the position. "They don't want to let him down, and that says a lot to me as a coach.
"For him to have that type of impact on not just our players but all the programs he works with says a lot about him."
Woida's five-month internship at the National Institute for Fitness and Sport started a hopscotch stretch of short-term positions in the strength and conditioning field: North Dakota State, the San Diego Padres, back to NDSU, back to the Padres, Minnesota, South Dakota State and Colorado State before a summer stint at Noonan Sports Specialists in Alexandria, Minn.
That's where Woida was working when he was hired by Montana in August 2010.
"You go from one job to the next, just chipping away, until you get to where you ultimately want to be," Woida said, expressing sentiments familiar to many working in collegiate athletics. "It's been a long road with a lot of three- to six-month stops.
"But this is where I want to be. I can finally stay at a place where I'll be able to see a kid come in and graduate and see their growth, not only as an athlete but as a human being. That's exciting to me."
Woida, who received his bachelor's degree in fitness management from Northern State in 2006 and master's in exercise science from North Dakota State in 2008, will be the director of the Athletic Performance Center and one of three full-time staff members.
Rob Oviatt handles all areas of strength and conditioning as it relates to the Montana football program. Woida and his assistant, who will now have to be hired, split and cover the rest of the programs, along with the Center's graduate assistants.
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