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Guest Lecturer Discusses Athletic Safety and Performance

Guest Lecturer Discusses Athletic Safety and Performance

When it comes to fitness testing, David Martin ’06 has nearly done it all—so he had plenty of interesting information and anecdotes to share with students when he visited Canterbury as a guest lecturer last week.

Presenting to students in the Comparative Anatomy and Science of the Body classes, David covered a wide range of topics, from hydration and heat assessments to strength testing to exercise science. He spoke of his experiences working as Associate Director of Athlete Safety and Performance at the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) on the University of Connecticut campus, his role as a Graduate Assistant in the human performance laboratory at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), and his dissertation on creatine supplementation for his Ph.D. in Exercise Science at UConn.

KSI was named for Korey Stringer, an NFL player who died of heat stroke after practice on an especially hot summer day. His wife won a settlement from the league and used it to create the Institute for the study of thermal regulation and causes of heat stroke. According to David, KSI’s heat chamber—a large walk-in area used to test extreme conditions—has drawn interest from the likes of the U.S. Military for testing service member clothing, Delta Airlines to test hats that employees complained were too hot, and the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team before the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, which was expected to be the hottest on record.

“We welcome people from around the world who have suffered heat stroke. They come into our laboratory, and we test them to see if they are tolerant of the heat,” David explained. “If they are not, we will try to figure out ways to make them tolerant, so they can go back to work.” David, who is a two-time Team USA Elite Amateur Triathlete, added that he serves as a subject for many of the studies in the chamber to see how his own body works in certain conditions.

He also shared how science advances play a major role in preparing athletes for competition. “To train athletes, I use a platform that allows me to study their volume of work over many months. It takes GPS data from wearable devices, puts that into an algorithm, and analyzes it for player load,” he explained. “We can then go to coaches and say, ‘This person has been running a lot, and player load is high because of acceleration and change in direction. As a result, the person is more prone to injury and should rest a little more.’” 

Such programs track fitness, fatigue, intensity, and stress scores over time depending on what information is inputted. David told students that wearable technology is a hot topic and growing career path in exercise science right now. “If you like sports, a great avenue for you to pursue in the future is sports analytics and player load,” he said. 

He cited examples of groundbreaking work being done in the field—including sports drink companies building their own exercise science laboratories to determine the right beverage formulas for specific types of training and athletic shoe manufacturers using in-ground force plates installed under various indoor tracks, courts, and fields to measure ground reaction force and design their shoes accordingly.

In addition, David is involved in a variety of projects to ensure the safety of student-athletes in schools around the country—tracking which ones have athletic trainers and ranking the effectiveness of those that do.

The Saints community is truly a family for David. His parents, Garth Martin ’78 and Nancy Mygatt ’78, are also graduates, as is his brother Robert ’05. And his grandmother, Gilda Martin, is a former Language Teacher who was awarded the Canterbury Medal in 2000.

David’s talk not only inspired Shane Cercone ’24 to incorporate more technology into his own training, it made him consider the idea of inspiring younger people himself one day. “This made me realize more than ever how data and research can help us advance and perform our best,” Shane said. “I appreciate Mr. Martin coming back to share his work with our community. It is important to remember where you came from and, if you ever get to a position like he has, to be humble enough to help the younger kids.”

As class ended, David did just that—he offered to help his fellow Saints get a foot in the door for these exciting career paths. “My success came from networking, talking, and being personable with people, and those people gave me the opportunities to move forward,” he told them. “So, if you want to network, reach out to me. I will put you in touch with professionals who love to talk to students like you and help with whatever you want to do in the future.”