Making an impact on someone’s life means a lot to Emmanuel “Coach Kimo” Alberio. Alberio is the current Graduate strength and conditioning assistant for Volleyball, Softball, Men and Women’s Tennis and Men’s Golf; and is an assistant for Football, Baseball, Men and Women’s Track and Field, Basketball and Cross Country at North Carolina Central University a historically black college or university (HBCU).
I interviewed Alberio to see what it is like being a strength and conditioning assistant at a HBCU. I also asked Alberio about how he is supporting his team and players during the Black Lives Matter movement.
- How is it going to an HBCU compared to other universities?
“HBCU’s are amazing, I really didn’t know what to expect when I got here. I didn’t think it would be any different than any other institution but the faculty, administration and all the staff treat you like family once you’re on board. They go out their way to make sure you are taken care of and they really want to get to know you on a personal level. I would consider everyone as an extended family, the way they offer a helping hand and care for me.”
2. What brought you into the strength and conditioning field?
“I originally was on path to start my Doctor of Physical Therapy school in the following semester after summer of 2019 but with all my prerequisites already achieved including my internship hours. So, I decided to apply to intern as a full-time strength and conditioning student with FIU athletics and as soon as I got accepted I fell in love. I was surrounded with many individuals that sacrificed early mornings and late nights in order to get better, at that time I realized these were the hardest working individuals I have ever been around in my life, everyone had the same mindset…sacrifice all that you can in order to achieve that one common goal. Everyone from the academic advisors, strength and conditioning staff, nutritionist, athletic trainers, team doctor, physical therapist, athletic director, ticket operations, team photographers/videographers, equipment staff, compliance, social media manager and all the other staffing involved pushed to get better every day. The energy was contagious, I knew that I could achieve my original goal of helping athletes feel healthier in the return to play aspect plus more if I joined this field. I went through with it and made sure to put all my energy to it and it paid off.”
3.What have you learned the most throughout this professional and educational journey you continue to chase?
“What I’ve learned the most is nobody cares how hard you’re working, just keep working and get better. Not every achievement needs a congratulations and a pat on the back, you have to be your own motivation and continue to grow. You are a huge impact to these young student athletes you work with everyday so make sure whatever energy you are radiating to them, that it is one you can live with. You spend a usual 12 hours a day with your staffing at least 5 times a week so the amount of information you learn is beyond beneficial. I feel as if I have absorbed hundreds of years of knowledge from all the professionals I have been around from physiology, biomechanics, inspiration, caring for one another, speech, psychology, nutrition and many more just by being around such brilliant people.”
4. How do you feel being in a field at such a young age that usually has older more experienced individuals in it? What advantages/disadvantages do you face?
“I like it, sometimes I feel like I’m behind because many of the coaches around have years and years of experience and knowledge on me but I use that to my advantage and try to learn as much as I can from them by just listening or asking questions. It puts me in a great position for growth and expansion. I’m used to a lifestyle where you have to grow fast and being around older adults, so that adjustment hasn’t been the hardest. The disadvantages is definitely earning your athletes trust because sometimes I’ll have some athletes older than me so imagine having to listen and taking orders from a younger brother, it definitely takes time for them to realize you are there to help them and have the knowledge required to do so and that’s okay, I know what comes with the job.”
5. What do you enjoy the most out of it?
“What I enjoy the most is definitely helping young student athletes get better and chase their dreams. It really isn’t so much about making sure they’re just better athletes to me but making sure they’re ready for life beyond college. I understand how rough life can be and how unpreparedness can affect someone. I feel as if that 18-24-year age gap is a critical one in one’s life and I want to be there for my athletes and guide them into making better decisions. This field allows me to help and change hundreds of lives every year and even if I could just help one person feel better about themselves to achieve greatness then I am satisfied. Some of these kids are away from family, some go to college to get away from an unhealthy lifestyle so if I can instill into them that hard work ethic will change their future and making better decisions can save years of pain then I’m going to do it. I want them to have fun while working hard, to escape every problem surrounding their life when we’re in that weight room or field. Joking around with the guys and getting some laughs out there is huge for me, energy is contagious and I want to make sure everyone feels what I’m putting out there and are in good spirits when I’m around, as long as the works is being achieved.Some people just don’t understand how one conversation can help change future generations and possibly plant the seed that is going to help one help their families and themselves.”
6. What advice would you give anyone trying to join a field such as this or anything similar to it?
“I would say make sure you have some tough skin because this field is not for the weak, it is a fast paced one that needs to operate like one, so make sure you listen well, learn fast and do everything that is needed from you. Be ready to bring 100% consistent energy every day, it is a field that you’re working from as early as 5 am and leaving as late as 8 pm. Try to find someone you trust and intern under them and take notes, question every method during the right times and make sure you’re researching a lot. I would tell anyone interested in joining this field to learn how to project your voice as loud as possible and learn how to control the room with confidence as well.”
7. How did you approach your teams and players during the uprise of the BLM movement and how did you show your support?
“Well during the time of this movement happening I wasn’t around any of the athletes or teams due to COVID-19 but many of the athletes I worked with know I would go to war for them. We would have team meetings and discuss certain things during the time, on how we could bring more awareness but primarily it was about how we could protect ourselves and each other. I will and have always used my platforms to voice my concerns and support for equality regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, etc.”
8.What is the message you feel is worth spreading the most right now with your athletes?
“Go vote, make some change. Protesting is a great way to bring awareness but in order to make policies and laws change, you have to vote and I’m not just talking presidential, usually voting local has a bigger impact, your mayors, governors, representatives. Everyone has to do their part. We have to teach the younger guys the importance of voting now for the next generation and how it affects everything you do. Think about yourself, grandparents, friends, family and career when voting. “
9. What was the feeling in the program after seeing NBA point guard and future HOF Chris Paul wearing NC Central gear in the playoffs?
“Man, it was so powerful for someone with that much attention on him not only to showcase our school but many of the HBCU’s in the nation. The thing many people fail to realize is when these 5-star kids commit to these PWI that those schools profit directly from them continuously from ticket sales, school sponsorships, alumni donations, apparel sales, etc. The crazy part is if you’re that good, you are most likely going for a year or two to that institution and then declaring for the draft. Many of the coaches in HBCU’s can give you the development that you need while also caring for you regardless of how good you play. Division 1 basketball is not like football, you play the same type of competition across your schedule so why not help a school that was established to create equal opportunity and enjoy your time with a curriculum that you would never get in many institutions? I think this is the time where you will see many 5-star recruits playing at HBCU’s, especially realizing you can play for legendary coaches like Levelle Moton that will get you where you need to be. With support like those of Chris Paul, Lebron James and 2Chainz showing love and admiration for HBCU’s is going to help with recruiting.”
10. What are your feelings in terms of what’s the best move when you guys do have a in season matchup with the racial injustice?
“Supporting what my players feel is best for them, I support them 100% and I’ll back them up all the way. If they want to have a lockout for the season, kneel for the national anthem or wear printed shirts in support of the movement, I’m with it all. During a time like this I feel like it’s best to use both ears and listen to how your athletes feel because it is a sensitive time and their voice should have the focus especially when the stage is impossible without them.”
11.What does the future look like for you? What could we expect to see?
“Well life for me has always had changes so I just try to be like water and never get accustomed to one thing but something that is for certain is I want to continue to work with that younger generation and athletics. Instead of continuing in collegiate athletics and traveling across the world every few years, I have been thinking of coming back to my hometown of Miami, Fl. To work with a sport performance facility and starting from square 1 in order to build a clientele of the general population and athletes on the side until I feel like it is a good time to open up my own facility. I’m also tired of seeing all these terrible workout programs being sold to people and facilitating change just because it is that person’s first time being active so I am launching an online training program that will have different options from different sport athletes, cardio, speed, top end velocity, hypertrophy, strength, rehabilitation in joint pain, nutrition programs, individualized programs, etc. In order to get people results and achieve longevity in exercise and live a better life while fixing imbalances and being able to find out solutions to live a pain free life. I am also launching an apparel line that will be casual enough to go out in and comfortable enough to workout in… let’s just say I have a lot of “Dreamz” that I am currently chasing.”
Emmanuel Alberio aka “Coach Kimo” is the current Graduate Strength and Conditioning assistant for the D1 HBCU North Carolina Central University in charge of programming for Volleyball, Softball, Men and Women’s Tennis and Men’s Golf; and is an assistant for Football, Baseball, Men and Women’s Track and Field, Basketball, and Cross Country. His first year with men’s tennis he achieved success by achieving the programs best win percentage since the 2014 Season and having the longest win streak in their programs history. He joined the NCCU Strength and Conditioning staff after a brief time at Florida International University, where he was a full-time strength and conditioning student intern for all 17 sports plus cheer and dazzlers.
Coach Kimo holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University in Sport and Fitness Studies and is on his last semester to complete his Master’s in Athletic Administration (December 2020). He is currently pursuing his NSCA CSCS and hold his NCSF CPT certification. He has worked independently with athletes from as young as high school all the way up to the professional levels assisting with speed development, rehabilitation and overall sport performance. Instagram/Twitter @CoachKeemz