Josh McMillian is UMSL's first-ever strength and conditioning coach. He joined the university in April. (Photo by Mary Ann Mitchell)

University of Missouri–St. Louis student-athletes no longer have an excuse for not being stronger, faster or in better shape than their opponents. With Josh McMillian in place as the school’s first-ever strength and conditioning coach and a brand new state-of-the-art weight facility, the resources are plentiful.

The St. Louis native joined the UMSL staff in April after spending eight years at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., where he spent the last four years as the Bruins’ head strength and conditioning coach.

“My wife and I are both from the area and after being away for so long, we were ready to get back,” he said. “When this job at UMSL came open and I learned more about it, I realized it was everything I wanted in a position – and it being in St. Louis brought it all together.”

McMillian, a 2003 graduate from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., where he threw shot, disc and hammer for the track and field team, had intentions of coaching that sport and initially went to Belmont as a graduate assistant coach on the track and field staff. But soon thereafter, he realized how important strength and conditioning were and held dual graduate assistant roles in both areas.

“Over time I fell more along the lines of strength and conditioning and before I knew it, I was hired as the head coach at Belmont,” McMillian said.

Since his appointment at UMSL, it’s been a whirlwind from designing his weight room from scratch to beginning workouts with all 195 student-athletes.

“At Belmont, I was given whatever was previously there, so being able to design this whole weight facility and put my own spin on it has been an unbelievable experience,” McMillian said.

With everything from power racks and platforms for benching and squatting to medicine balls and plyometric boxes, the area is equipped to benefit everyone in UMSL’s 11 intercollegiate sport programs.

“You name it, we pretty much have it,” McMillian said. “And everything in here is what we need to get our student-athletes faster, stronger and more conditioned. It’s a really big step up from where they were previously and it will really benefit our student-athletes. You might not see it right away, but in the next couple of years, I think the difference on the field will be evident. We should hopefully be stronger, but I think you will really be able to see it in our speed and conditioning.”

With the start of the school year underway, saying McMillian is busy is an understatement. Both coaches and student-athletes have been excited about his new position and are taking advantage of it.

A typical day for McMillian includes getting into the weight room around 5:30 a.m. to work a couple teams out in the morning. He then has open hours, where in-season student-athletes get their workouts in, a few hours for office work and more team workouts in the afternoon. Putting in 11- to 12-hour workdays Monday through Friday has been normal for McMillian, but it’s something he wouldn’t trade for anything.

“The best part of my job is helping the student-athletes,” he said. “I know as a former college athlete that I didn’t always feel like I had the best guidance, so to be able to help take them to the next level and to help them improve in their sports and to see the results on the field is a great feeling.”

Mary Ann Mitchell

Mary Ann Mitchell