Overcoming an injury to uncover a career

basketball court

Glenn Cain ’07 came to Gettysburg because of the opportunity he would have to be a multi-sport athlete. He believed that playing two sports in high school—football and track and field—made him a stronger athlete in both, and he knew he wanted to continue those sports in College.

Not only did he compete in College, but he excelled.

A track and field standout and a steady contributor in football, Cain was an eight-time Centennial Conference medalist who still holds two school records. He broke a third school record in the discus (156 feet, 3 inches) that stood for a decade until Andre Hinds ’16 broke it in 2015.

Glenn Cain ’07 headshot

In football, he was a four-year letterwinner as a defensive lineman and missed just two games for his career, finishing with 36 tackles.

That’s why an injury that sidelined him after football season during his senior year at Gettysburg was so difficult for him.

“I was hoping to have a really great season in track and field that year, so when I got hurt, I was devastated,” Cain said.

However, out of this athletic setback came a profound opportunity for the health sciences major to realize his professional dreams. His coach, looking for ways to keep him actively engaged with the team, asked him to take over training the throwers.

“I was always into fitness and health, but having the opportunity to work with my teammates in the weight room was huge,” Cain said. “In hindsight, it was almost a blessing in disguise—it was my first experience doing what I would be doing later down the road.”

Finding a career path

Now, Cain is the Athletic Performance Coach for the men’s basketball team at the University of New Mexico. He says it was his injury combined with the support of health sciences Prof. Dan Drury that inspired him continue his education at Springfield College and earn a Masters of Education: Exercise Science and Sport Studies with a concentration in Strength and Conditioning.

“Going into my senior year at Gettysburg, if you had asked me whether or not I was thinking about grad schools, I would have said, ‘No,’” Cain said. “Dr. Drury really made me think this was something I could do. He mentioned the school to me and told me that becoming a strength and conditioning coach was something he could see me doing.”

Glenn Cain ’07 climbed Gray’s Peak in Colorado with fellow Gettysburgian Moira Rafferty Sharkey ’07 and friends.

Glenn Cain ’07 climbed Gray’s Peak in Colorado with fellow Gettysburgian Moira Rafferty Sharkey ’07 and friends.

He applied, knowing that Springfield is one of the best colleges in the country for exercise science, and was thrilled when he was not only accepted, but also offered a graduate assistant position that enabled him to afford the opportunity. It also gave him practical experience, as he could apply what he was learning in the classroom to the five sports he was responsible for training—football, track and field, cross country, wrestling, and basketball.

“That’s when I first worked with basketball and I really liked it,” Cain said. “I talked with my advisor about working more with basketball, and she helped me find an internship with the University of Kansas (KU).”

KU isn’t the only big name institution found on his resume. He held another internship with Rutgers University and the University of Connecticut, and after graduating from Springfield College, worked at Frostburg State University, returned to Kansas University, and is now based at the University of New Mexico. He’s worked with hundreds of student athletes, eleven of whom went on to become professional athletes, oversaw five championship teams at Kansas University alone, built up strength and conditioning programs, and was responsible for fundraising efforts that ensured student-athletes had the equipment they needed to excel.

Only eight years into his career, Cain is also being hailed as one of the up-and-coming names in athletic performance strength and conditioning.

“One of the best experiences of my career was when I was asked to present at a conference in China,” Cain said. “The NBA sponsored the trip, and I was giving 12 hours of presentation to the Chinese Basketball Association coaches on how to properly train a basketball player.

“So I’m standing on a stage, someone is translating everything I say, and I just think to myself, ‘Look how far I’ve come.’ That was definitely a big moment for me.”

Glenn Cain ’07 poses with conference attendees after presenting to the Chinese Basketball Association.

Glenn Cain ’07 poses with conference attendees after presenting to the Chinese Basketball Association.

Striving to be the best

Throughout it all, though, Cain has had one guiding principle shape his career success.

“My goal has never been to be a Division I men’s strength coach or to work for an NBA team,” Cain said. “In everything I have done, I have always pushed myself to be the best I can be. I think if you focus on the process more than the result, that’s where the magic happens. That is what has led me to where I need to be.”

Currently, he defines where he needs to be as the University of New Mexico. Having accepted their athletic performance coach position back in June, Cain sees the kind of opportunity he most wants in a job—an opportunity to have an impact.

“My job at the University of Kansas was a great job, so I had to make sure my next job was even better,” Cain explained. “The University of New Mexico already has a great program, but I saw that I could help them maximize their potential.”

And even after almost a decade away from Gettysburg, the lessons he learned here still help guide him, too.

“I didn’t declare a health sciences major until the end of my sophomore year because I didn’t think I was smart enough to do it, even though that is where I knew I was interested,” Cain said. “In everything you do, you have to know who you are and make decisions based on yourself. Know yourself, be true to yourself, and don’t be afraid of failure.”