Gullickson Receives League-Wide Award


Over the past two years, players and coaches alike understand the impact Packers strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson has had on the team.

Beginning with the transition from machines to free weights in the weight room in 2006 and continuing with the implementation of a productive offseason strength and conditioning program, Gullickson's value as a member of Mike McCarthy's coaching staff is noticed at 1265 Lombardi Ave.

It's been noticed league-wide now as well.

The Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society has named Gullickson its 'Coach of the Year' in a vote of his peers, an honor Gullickson appreciates but one he's not willing to take full credit for.

"It's a reflection of the team's success," said Gullickson, who received the award at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis late last month.

"We haven't had many injuries to starters the last two years, but that isn't just this room. It's the planning that goes into the schedule, building in rest and recovery. It's Pepper (Burruss) and the medical staff being sure guys with a history of injuries are taking care of their pre-hab exercises, doing the right things to prevent further injuries. It's Red (Batty) and the equipment guys putting players in the right uniforms for the day. So it's a reflection of the team's success, including everybody."

Gullickson wanted especially to note all the help and support he's received from his top assistant, Mark Lovat, since coming to Green Bay along with McCarthy two years ago.

Upon arrival, Gullickson was asked by McCarthy what was needed to change the weight room and change the culture and working environment, and Gullickson and Lovat were immediately on the same page with the switch to primarily free-weight components.

"Asking Mark what he envisioned as the goal for the room, the goal for the team, we clicked as to what we felt were the steps necessary to help this team," Gullickson said. "We had Coach McCarthy's support, and the support of the administration, right away."

Gullickson and Lovat also have established and refined an offseason strength and conditioning regimen for the players that McCarthy has noted many times as the starting point in the Packers' rise from 8-8 in 2006 to 13-3 and NFC runner-up in 2007.

Gullickson said that the players' enthusiasm for the offseason program has steadily grown. Particularly with the younger players, as they or their teammates make significant strength gains and improve their bodies, they've seen it translate into improved performance on the field.

"I really think this year is going to be our best year, because it takes a while for these guys to buy in, believe in it, fit into it, feel comfortable with it," Gullickson said. "We have about 40 guys here out of that group of just first- and second-year players, and that's as good as some teams do for their entire team.

{sportsad300}"There's more excitement. We started out (last) week with this group, and the only thing I've had to say to correct anything is, 'Slow down a little bit. We've got nine weeks in this program before we even get into OTAs, so let's not try to do it all the first week. Let's build up to that point. Follow the program, follow the plan, and we're going to get you there.'"

In his 30-year career, this is the second time Gullickson has received an award from the PFSCCS. He also received a lifetime achievement award in 2000, his first in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints after 22 years in the collegiate ranks.

That year, with McCarthy as their offensive coordinator, the Saints won their first playoff game in franchise history and then, like now, Gullickson looked upon the honor as very much a team award.

"I didn't feel like I was old enough to get a lifetime achievement award at age 45, but it was a nice acknowledgement," he said. "There's also a Super Bowl award, given to the Super Bowl winner. So I guess that would be the only one I would have left to obtain, and of course that's the ultimate goal for the team."

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