Former Jacket, former Camel pushes current Camels
Mike Stryffeler's ability and work ethic, on and off the playing field, took him from being a standout athlete at Lee County High School to Campbell University. Stryffeler's continued work, now with a drive to see other young athletes reach their potentials, has brought him back to Buies Creek and the Camels.
"The biggest thing to me is, I don't consider it a job, or work. I love the opportunity I have to help athletes take their career, their opportunities, and go where they want to go," said Stryffeler.
He is Campbell's Assistant Director of Strength and Conditioning, having rejoined the Camels in January 2013, less than two years after graduating from Campbell.
Before being a Camel, Stryffeler participated in football, basketball, baseball, track and field and wrestling as a Yellow Jacket.
As a Camel, Stryffeler was a leader as Campbell restarted its football program after a 58-year gap in 2008. He was a two-time All-Pioneer Football League tight end and earned multiple all-academic accolades. In 2011, Stryffeler, while already interning for CU's athletic department as an undergrad, was named an All-American Athlete of the Year by the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
"There's definitely a big sense of pride," said Stryffeler about working at his alma mater. "I love the opportunity to coach here where I played football, to continue to be a part of of it and to continue to see it grow and build a program. To see the growth here means a lot to me."
Between graduating from CU and returning to Buies Creek, Stryffeler spent spells at Florida Atlantic University and the University of Montana, where he earned a master's degree in Science in Health and Human Performance.
"All of us come to this field with a pretty extensive academic background," he said.
All the training, running and lifting is designed to improve an athlete's ability and a team's win-loss record but, at the same time, training regimes — specially developed for each sport and each individual athlete — are in place with injury prevention as a major goal for a strength and conditioning staff, Stryffeler said.
Having played three or four sports per school year back at Lee County might well aide Stryffeler's schedule now. With Montana, perennially one of the best football programs at the Football Championship Subdivision level, "I worked with every team out there," Stryffeler said, but closest with football, both basketball squads, tennis and track and field.
With the Fighting Camels, Stryffeler is an assistant with football and the lead strength and conditioning coach for softball, volleyball, track and field and wrestling.
There isn't a lot of spare time, which is a good sign, Stryffeler says.
"Getting out on the court, the field, in the weight room, it's just great having that interaction with student-athletes," he said. "It's the type of thing where, a whole day goes by and you're like, 'what happened to the day?' I didn't even notice where the time went because you're so immersed in what we're trying to achieve."
Stryffeler considered himself a hard-working, "blue collar" athlete from his Yellow Jacket and Camel years. He takes the same attitude to his new charges. Every athlete good enough to get to the Division I college level is a skilled athlete. There has to be something more to separate from the pack.
"One thing I learned as a player that's carried over I think is, you can achieve a lot just be being persistent and working hard," said Stryffeler.
Which is why, whether its a few weeks before the start of football season or in the middle of the so-called offseason, it's fine, even a positive, if a Camel athlete isn't liking the strength and condition guy very much.
"I think it's always kind of a love, hate thing," he said, "as long as there's respect going both ways, and we work to establish that, then it's going to be good. The athletes know we're pushing them, and getting them to do things that are tough, but it's all about trying to help them get better."