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ESJ’s Tsuruda at the top of profession

Wildcats’ coach was recently honored for excellence in field

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East St. John coach Curtis Tsuruda (left) is presented with a plaque by Mike Mashburn, President of the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Society was honored at at the recent Istrouma/East St. John game at Joe Keller Memorial Stadium. Tsuruda was recognised as the group’s High School Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year.

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L’Observateur

RESERVE – East St. John coach Larry Dauterive has often noted how lucky the Wildcats are to have strength and conditioning coach Curtis Tsuruda on staff.

Apparently, others have noticed as well.

Tsuruda was recently chosen by the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society as the High School Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year based on his and his team’s achievements in the 2009 season.

In a press release, the society describes the award as being received by “those on the professional, collegiate and high school levels who are nominated by their peers for having demonstrated a sincere desire to help athletes excel and a deep dedication to the profession.”

He was officially honored with the award on September 10 as ESJ hosted Istrouma.

“When coach Doe called me and told me the news, I paused. Then I asked, ‘What?’” said Tsuruda. “I’m just very, very humbled by it. I know of so many good coaches at every level, to be mentioned with them … again, it’s such a humbling experience.”

Tsuruda has coached five years with the Wildcats, and coordinates the strength and conditioning program for all of the school’s athletic programs.

His resume is extensive. He has 32 years of experience training athletes on the high school, collegiate and professional levels. He was the Director of Strength and Conditioning at Tulane University and University of Hawaii. He was also an Assistant Strength and Conditioning coach at LSU and graduate assistant at Mississippi State. He has trained 35 Division I All-American Athletes along with a world champion in jiu-jitsu.

Tsuruda was a high school teacher and coach in Honolulu where his team won the State Clean and Jerk and Small School State Basketball championships. He also coached basketball, softball and volleyball. He graduated from the University of Hawaii with Bed in Health and Physical Education in 1982 and a Med from Northeast Louisiana in 1989. He is certified from the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Association (CSCCA) where he holds the distinction of Master Strength and Conditioning Coach (MSCC) and by USA Weightlifting.

“His resume reads like something out of Ripley’s Believe it or Not,” said Mike Mashburn, President of the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Society. “He’s gone out of his way to elevate his profession. The proof is in the pudding.”

While Tsuruda coached on the college level, he decided to move back to the high school level after he and his wife, Angela, adopted a child — his daughter, Ellie Grace, is now 11years old. The long hours at the college level were trying for a committed father.

“When he became a parent, that became paramount to him,” said Dauterive. “Late hours, starting at 5 a.m., never getting to see your family. He wanted to be away from that life.”

It’s been East St. John’s gain. Angela taught at East St. John. When there was an opening for a strength coach, it was a natural fit, Dauterive said.

Both sides have been better for it.

“I think he really enjoys being here. And our gains have been appreciable since he’s been here,” said Dauterive. “The kids relate well to him. I can’t tell you how many strength coaches there are in America … for him to be singled out, it’s a great honor. They did their homework.”

Said Tsuruda: “I feel like I’ve come full circle. I started in high school, went to coach in college, and now I’m back where I began.”

Tsuruda said his philosophy on dealing with athletes is simple. First, his goal is to reduce injuries. That snowballs into greater gains.

“If you’re always healthy, your performance is going to improve,” said Tsuruda. “And when you’re healthy, and you feel your performance improving, it gives you a psychological edge. You may be up against someone bigger, faster and stronger, but you know you work just as hard, if not harder, than they do. And that’s when you say, ‘Buddy, there’s no way you beat me tonight.’”

He said that most rewarding is the ability to help his protégé’s reach their potential.

“I want to help them become better athletes and people,” he said. “A lot of coaches act like kids are lucky to have them as coach. But I tell them, ‘I’m honored to be able to work with you.’ Without the high school athlete, we wouldn’t have a job here. Many don’t look at it that way, but I do.”

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East St. John coach Curtis Tsuruda (left) is presented with a plaque by Mike Mashburn, President of the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Society was honored at at the recent Istrouma/East St. John game at Joe Keller Memorial Stadium. Tsuruda was recognised as the group’s High School Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year.