Like the St. Louis Blues, which finished as the top team in the National Hockey League last season, Eric Renaghan wants Maryville’s Exercise Science program to be the best in the country.
Renaghan, an adjunct professor of exercise science at Maryville, incorporates the lessons and experiences he has learned as the head of sports performance for the Blues into the classroom.
“We are setting ourselves to the side and we are advancing this program to the point where it is one of the top two in the country,” Renaghan said. “We are definitely trying to make this program at Maryville one of the most advanced programs in the country in terms of providing students with the opportunities to excel at real-world practices.”
Victor Kizer, the director of the exercise science program, facilitated the partnership with Renaghan and the Blues to have development and training camp testing performed at Maryville in Myrtle E. and Earl E. Walker Hall in 2018. That relationship led the pair to become good friends and Kizer asked him to become an adjunct professor.
“Eric is a vital component to the department and curriculum within Maryville’s Exercise Science program,” Kizer said. “Our vision for the exercise science program is to provide a real-world, practical education to our students both inside and outside of the classroom. There’s a saying in the industry that a coach is a teacher and a teacher is a coach.
“Working with adjunct faculty such as Eric, we are able to provide our students a coach, a practitioner at the highest level of sport that is able to directly relate real-world experience to the classroom in an active learning format. As an example of real-world experiences, Eric provides his expertise with force plate technology and our partnership with Hawkin Dynamics, to educate our students on a technology that is unheard of in undergraduate programs.”
Renaghan is in his second year of teaching at Maryville, but has nearly a decade of experience working with professional athletes in strength, conditioning and nutrition. He established the foundation of his career in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks before moving north to ply his trade with the Vancouver Canucks before landing with the St. Louis Blues for the 2016 season.
“I think it provides a little bit of confidence to the students because these are some of the things to know to get to that level of working at the NHL level,” Renaghan explained. “I’m providing them with some of the professional experiences so there is some validity to what I’m teaching them.”
Renaghan has already created a course for the program – Exercise 410: Exercise Testing and Prescription. This course examines techniques of evaluation for physical fitness and health with a particular emphasis on aerobic capacity, flexibility, strength, and body composition and to design, implement, and administer programs for developing physical fitness and lifestyle changes.
“I use a lot of the experiences that we use with the St. Louis Blues,” Reneghan said. “Lessons and anecdotal evidence so the students have real-world experiences that they can compare to. I’m working with Victor to build out the curriculum and allow more holistic curriculum for students to get better access to technology and have it be part of their course.”
Renaghan is also in the process of developing a class that would allow students from Maryville to intern with the Blues. He hopes to have that ready to roll out for the 2020-2021 NHL season. This would give students an active learning opportunity to work with the defending Stanley Cup champions.
“There are a lot of programs out there that teach theory and they teach exercise science, but they are not using current practices that are used at the professional levels of sports,” Renaghan stated.