UK football: Stoops stresses healthy lifestyle

jsmith3@herald-leader.comNovember 7, 2013 

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UK Coach Mark Stoops knows the toll his profession can take on the body. His father died while coaching a game.

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Mark Stoops doesn't need any reminders how stress can take its toll on a coach's body.

The Kentucky head coach needs only to think back to 1988 when he lost his father, who died of a heart attack while coaching a high school football game in Youngstown, Ohio.

Ron Stoops Sr. serves as a regular reminder to Stoops, 46, and his older brothers about the perils of their chosen profession.

But the NFL offered two more loud warnings this past weekend when the head coaches of both the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos had to be hospitalized after health scares.

"It's a unique profession," UK wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord said this week. "It's not healthy."

Mainord has his own unique perspective. His father, Carlos, coached in the NFL and at the college level. The UK assistant coach followed in those not-so-healthy footsteps.

"It's hard to eat right when you're sitting in a dark room most of the day," Mainord said. "You gotta try to find a way to eat right. In the offseason, you're recruiting, sitting in a car for umpteen hours a day and so there's a lot of that going on and you have to just make yourself stop.

"It's a stressful profession. You've got to learn how to handle that stress on top of treating your body right. So it's a constant battle."

Stoops encourages his staff to exercise regularly and get adequate rest. Tuesday nights are family night at the Nutter Training Center and coaches' wives and children join them for dinner, which always includes a vegetable or two.

"He does everything he can within the job to make sure that we're spending time with them and getting the rest that we need," defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said of Stoops.

Family night is a similar thing Stoops' older brother Bob does at Oklahoma for the same reasons.

"I lost my father on the sidelines at 54 years old, so if anybody knows the hazards of it, it's myself, my family," the older Stoops said this week, noting that he gets checked twice a year by doctors. "Not that that can prevent it, but you want to use the science, and the medicine and doctors as much as you can."

At Kentucky, Mark Stoops said coaches work hard to balance a demanding profession with a need to get adequate rest and good nutrition, but admitted that's "very hard."

"There's no way around it. It is what it is," Stoops said. "You try to manage it as best you can, but it is something you're conscious of, especially when I had a father go down coaching a game. So yeah, it's something you think about."

Stoops isn't the only one on the UK staff who lost a father too soon. Special teams coordinator Bradley Dale Peveto's own dad died at age 54 from an enlarged heart.

That makes Peveto do everything he can to stay stay fit. The coach talked at length about the importance of preventative care.

"Coach Stoops encourages us to work out," Peveto said. "Most of us work out five days a week. I know I do: I run, I lift, I try to eat decent. You've just got to take care of yourself."

The coaching profession, filled with self-proclaimed perfectionists, can definitely take a toll on you, Eliot said.

"Part of the problem with coaches is the pressure that we put on ourselves," he said. "We all want to win and we all want to be successful and that's why we got in the business, the competitive nature.

"It's a fun job, it really is, to coach football and be around young men and to be a part of the action. But it's very demanding and sometimes that can take a toll on you.""

'At least you'relooking the ball in'

It may take a while for poor Javess Blue to stop being a UK locker room punchline: the wide receiver that had to sit out a game because a ball he was supposed to catch hit him in the face.

For the junior college wideout, the swollen shut right eye was painful, but it was made even more painful because he'd never missed a game in his career before last week's game against Alabama State.

So how exactly did it happen?

"Me and Max (Smith) was out throwing the ball; he was getting warmed up and he threw me a bullet and the ball slipped through an old pair of gloves and basically hit me right in the eye," Blue explained.

Once teammates and coaches knew it wasn't a serious injury, the ribbing started.

"It was crazy because Coach (Tommy) Mainord was like, 'At least you're looking the ball in,'" Blue relayed. "So I had to bust out laughing. All of us, we was joking about the situation."

Stadium plans to be unveiled

Kentucky announced plans to hold a news conference on Nov. 25 that will unveil the design for what it's calling the "renewal of Commonwealth Stadium."

The event, which will include Gov. Steve Beshear, UK President Eli Capilouto, Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart and Coach Mark Stoops, will reveal the design of the $110 million stadium and football facilities renovations.

Officials previously have said updates likely will include 16-20 private suites, more than 2,000 new club seats, a team store, improved concessions and restrooms as well as a full-service kitchen and new press facilities. There also will be a multi-purpose recruiting room.

An enhanced weight room, added cardio equipment, enhanced medical and training rooms as well as a dining facility are expected to be a part of the Nutter Training Facility upgrades.


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Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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