COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Before she ever stepped on the field as a Maryland student athlete, Sarah Kovalchick had already experienced the environment of college athletics.
As a freshman, Kovalchick interned with Maryland’s athletic training staff at Varsity Team House, working with women’s soccer and men’s lacrosse. A year later, the Middletown, Md., native was on the field with the Terps, walking on to Ray Leone’s 2016 squad. This summer she delved into another aspect of Maryland’s athletic apparatus; as a strength and conditioning intern.
“My day-to-day duties were to act as a strength and conditioning coach for the teams that came in every day,” Kovalchick said. “Strength and conditioning was something I knew nothing about going into it, so it was a great learning experience for me.”
The opportunity was an extension of Maryland’s InTERPship efforts. The program, which finished its third year this summer, focuses its mission on educating, developing and serving student-athletes through career and professional development opportunities.
Kovalchick’s head mentor for the program was strength coach Christian Hartford, who assigned Kovalchick tasks that ranged from setting up the weight room for a lift to coaching groups of athletes from sports such as volleyball and wrestling.
“Because she trains in VTH, we wanted to keep her up at XFINITY to give her a different vibe,” Hartford said. “She did a great job with that. I wanted to give her experiences to help her develop as a coach.”
Part of that development came in the form a theoretical situation. Kovalchick designed a mock strength program for a men’s lacrosse athlete and presented it to the head strength coaches for feedback.
Kovalchick was especially excited about the opportunity to expand her professional net across the area.
“I got to meet a lot of different people both at Maryland and at schools like Georgetown and American,” Kovalchick said. “I got to learn different styles of coaching and it was great to spread the network.”
Fresh off her summer experience, the junior will turn her attention to Maryland’s 2017 season, where her head coach believes she will play a key role.
“Sarah is an amazing kid,” Leone said. “Last year she came out and had a smile on her face for every training session and now a year later she’s really now a key player on our team. She makes a difference on and off the field for us.”