POWER Partners: BSC athletes aim to get better, avoid injury

The Junior college experience is unique in that student-athletes have a relatively short time to develop on their way to the next stop.

That’s why the work that Bismarck State College puts in with Sanford POWER is so important. The Mystics want to get quicker, faster and stronger – and in a hurry.

“Nick and the team at POWER have helped our Mystics volleyball players in all of those aspects – while also reducing the number of injuries,” said BSC coach Jeni Walsh. “The players start with a summer training program before coming to BSC, and follow that up with in- and out-of-season training for the two years they are here.”

“Nick” is Nick Jolliffe, the certified strength and conditioning coach that oversees the Mystics’ training for all four sports – volleyball, baseball, men’s basketball and women’s basketball.

All four BSC squads work with Jolliffe and team. He works with them on campus every other week with workouts that are specific to the sports and to the individuals.

The volleyball team gets a steady diet of hang cleans, jump shrugs, push presses, Romanian Deadlift and squat variations.

“The biggest thing I’m trying to accomplish with the volleyball team is keep them healthy for the season,” Jolliffe said. “From there, just like any athlete I am trying to make them bigger, stronger and faster in the weight room. Through proper progression and technique, we try to develop that strength foundation. With them getting stronger they are going to be able to produce power while jumping, spiking, moving laterally, etc.”

Jolliffe has an interesting perspective in that he’s a former athlete himself. He played multiple sports in high school before embarking on a four-year career as a wide receiver for the University of Mary.

“Nick not only trains volleyball player, but he also trains them as athletes and works on their mental training and instills in them the power of toughness and grit,” said Walsh, who was a state championship coach at the high school level before moving to the junior college level. “Our players feel physically strong and mentally tough, and they are ready to handle the demands of the schedule.”

The BSC volleyball went 27-8 this season, reaching the NJCAA regional finals. Three of their sophomores have signed to play at the NCAA Division II level.

Having access to certified strength and conditioning coaches is not something that all junior colleges have.

The Mystics have committed accordingly. That’s made Jolliffe a better coach, too.

“It challenges me with only getting to see them every other week,” he said. “I’m trying to build a culture of hard work, accountability and leadership from a training standpoint, and I put a lot of trust in the athletes at BSC.”