Former Bengals strength and conditioning coach Chip Morton now volunteering at Moeller
Scott Springer, email@example.com
KENWOOD – When former Cincinnati Bengals strength and conditioning coach Chip Morton was not retained by Zac Taylor’s new regime, he took his 34 years of experience to a familiar place.
With a third son, Aaron, on Moeller High School’s football squad, he offered up his services as a volunteer on new coach Todd Naumann’s staff. Having served with Athletes In Action and had kids in a faith-based school, he proudly wears a Moeller shirt featuring Philippians 4: 13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.
With that demeanor, he has a wealth of knowledge to dispense, along with the occasional water bottle to Crusaders in need.
Cincinnati Bengals strong safety Taylor Mays (26) walks off the field with strength & conditioning coach chip Morton after their 19-13 loss to the Houston Texans in the first round of their AFC playoff game at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas in 2013 (Photo: Enquirer File Photo)
Coach Naumann has pulled in some heavy-hitters to share with his troops as NFL Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz, whose son Michael played at Moeller, has addressed the Crusaders. So has former Moeller safety-turned-Ohio State and Bengal defensive lineman Sam Hubbard.
However, Morton’s presence might be the most valuable from those with Bengal ties as he’s seen the strength and conditioning game evolve. With stops at Ohio State and Penn State before joining the Bengals with Marvin Lewis, Morton has seen high school facilities now rival what many big colleges had in the 1980s.
“In the 80s our program (Ohio State) was heavily influenced by the Nebraska teams,” Morton said. “They were one of the early proponents of strength training, the value of lifting weights for football performance.”
Since then Morton has watched the profession blossom with current coaches growing up with an emphasis on strength and conditioning. When he started, some older coaches had to be sold on the concept and the strength coach was usually just the biggest guy who could lift weights.
Every sport pumps iron
No longer are the weight machines reserved for football, in today’s schools every sport from golf to soccer to volleyball to baseball and lacrosse makes time to train.
“We’ve come a long way on programming and what’s appropriate for a swimmer versus what’s appropriate for a football athlete,” Morton said. “I think we’ve come a long way in really tailoring our strength programs for individual sports.”
The strength coach industry
If you watch enough football there are usually a few segments a year on various strength coaches. Most head coaches have one that’s been with them. They become part drill sergeant/part motivational speaker with some making big names for themselves.
“In the early days the strength coach may have been lower on the totem pole for staff importance,” Morton said. “Most coaches didn’t understand it. The profession has grown. Technology and education have supported young coaches who come in better equipped.”
Proper perspective on pectorals
Those that have developed reputations and experience on-field success have benefited financially. More former athletes are turning to strength and conditioning for coaching work rather than Xs and Os.
“Now you’re talking about strength and conditioning coaches that are some sort of athletic department head,” Morton said. “We’ve elevated titles, we’ve elevated salaries. It still comes down for me to preparing and serving the individual athletes.”
Morton now sees schools with an army of strength coaches. If you’ve ever seen the guy that’s in charge of pulling the head coach back to the sideline (the get-back coach) that’s usually a member of the strength staff.
“I hope we never lose sight of the service aspect of it,” Morton said. “It’s still about the athletes. Often times it can morph into, ‘We become important’. It’s still a teaching reality. You’re still pouring into athletes. I think that’s the essence of coaching, it’s teaching.”
Morton quick hits
Are people getting bigger?
“I think it’s more training, more education, more food available. We know more, we apply more and young men and women are involved in training at an earlier age.”
“Let’s start with are you eating right. Are you eating breakfast, lunch and dinner? Are you eating servings of vegetables and fruit every day? Are you hydrating? Are you getting enough water? It’s eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough rest, then let things develop naturally.”
Anything he’d change?
“My warning is always to stay humble as a coach and a professional. It’s about the athletes, male and female, that you’re training. Be a lifelong learner and pour that into them and make them better for being involved with you. It’s a relationship-driven business, we should be pouring in and making people’s lives better.”