Vols basketball strength coach Garrett Medenwald took a chance when he was in college at Wisconsin-Whitewater.
"I saw what they were doing and it was different, and I said, 'I gotta learn it,'" Medenwald said.
'They' is Rick Barnes and his strength coach at Texas, Todd Wright. Medenwald called up Wright and told him he wanted to learn about his approach of using sport-specific workout techniques.
Wright invited him to come down on his own dime, so Medenwald borrowed his wife's car and drove down from Wisconsin to Austin, Texas for the summer. That chance he took turned into a graduate assistantship with Barnes and Wright at Texas and later a job as Barnes' strength coach at Tennessee.
"It's amazing the first time I was around coach (Barnes), the influence he has on people and how much he cares about and loves everyone that he's around. It's been amazing growing and building that relationship and I just love working for him," Medenwald said.
"To come to Tennessee, it's been an incredible journey and the people here are incredible and I've learned so much from the people around me."
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Now, Medenwald is leading his own sport-specific workouts as the Tennessee basketball team prepares for one of the most anticipated seasons in program history.
WBIR watched the Vols work with Medenwald last Friday morning (see video at the top of the article). The workout started at 7 a.m. and lasted about an hour.
Medenwald says he wants to be an extension of head coach Rick Barnes during the summer workouts.
"The most important thing is culture, culture wins. So, you're providing an environment understanding that we're going to need each other in every single moment, one guy can't do it. Everybody's going to need to lean on each other. You create that environment where guys coach each other," Medenwald said.
WEB EXTRA: Vols summer workout bonus footage
This particular workout was the first one as a college student-athlete for the newest Vol, D.J. Burns, a freshman forward from Rock Hill, South Carolina. The team rallied around him, making sure he did things right (especially counting out burpees, so they wouldn't have to do more) and encouraged him the whole way to get through his first workout as a Vol.
Tennessee has also added walk-on Brock Jancek from Knoxville Catholic High School to the roster, this was his third workout as a Vol.
Medenwald emphasizes basketball specific maneuvers in his workouts, like swinging a weighted cylinder with handles called a 'viper' to simulate ripping a basketball past a defender to begin a drive to the basket, or working on defensive stances and moves using resistance bands to build strength in the necessary muscles.
"You could see it kind of looks, feels, smells like something I might do on the court," Medenwald said. "You can watch a game and you're watching a play, you might even slow motion it, you can see all the different fundamental movement patterns within each play. The guys love to enhance their ability and they love to buy into it because they love the game and they're here to keep getting better at it and that's what I'm here to help them do."
After a tough workout full of medicine ball tosses, squats and cage stretches, Medenwald wraps things up by telling the team they have two minutes to clean up the weight room and put everything back in its place. He tells them to help each other out and he pitches in too.
The guys complete the room cleanup within the time limit and Medenwald tells everyone to 'dap each other up,' so the Vols end their workout with high fives, fist bumps and encouraging words.
After a quick huddle and a breakdown, sophomore Derrick Walker puts an arm around the newcomer, Burns, and says, "I've got your back, man."