Olympic wrestler praises Flames coach for pain and gain
When Jake Herbert hits the wrestling mat Saturday for Team USA at the Olympic Games, UIC’s Nick Zostautas will be watching.
Zostautas, now UIC’s strength and conditioning coach, was Herbert’s strength coach from 2004 to 2008 while both were at Northwestern University.
“I headed to Northwestern tall, skinny and lacking strength,” Herbert writes in his blog.
“Needless to say, after Nick got through with me, I left college a two-time national champ and ready to take on the world!”
Zostautas, NU’s assistant strength and conditioning coach from 2002 to 2008, said he worked with Herbert as many as five days a week.
“He did wrestling-style weightlifting, mimicking different positions; strongman stuff — sandbag lifts, running the stadium [stairs] with weights; the farmer’s walk, walking with weights in either hand,” Zostautas said.
Herbert wrote, “He had me do these circuits one day where I swear I tore my triceps! I couldn’t lift the phone to my ear for two days!”
Zostautas said he was “touched beyond belief” by the young athlete’s appreciative remarks.
“This is a thankless job — we’re the offensive linemen of the athletic department. Just to see one of our athletes succeed — you can’t put a price on that.”
When Zostautas was assistant strength coach of the Colorado Avalanche hockey team in 2001, the team won the Stanley Cup.
He played for the 1996-97 Colorado State University Rams football team and threw the hammer and shotput for the school’s track and field team. He won the Colorado State Strongman Championship in 2003.
Zostautas earned a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science and a master’s in kinesiology from the University of North Dakota.