The Falcon Keeper
Jonas Beauchemin '06 helps keep the Atlanta Falcons on their feet.
by Benjamin Gleisser
It's Day 18 of the Atlanta Falcons training camp, and groups of football players work through their drills on the sun-baked practice field.
Coaches' shrill whistles cut through the air. Stopwatches click the sprinting times of running backs while, farther downfield, football helmets slap opponents' shoulder pads as rookie linemen challenge each other for starting jobs.
Two things unite these athletes: each player wants a job in the NFL, and each regularly visits the team's athletic performance staff to fine-tune his strength and conditioning regimen.
Keene State alumnus Jonas Beauchemin '06, an assistant strength and conditioning coach, is one of three department members whose job is to keep the Falcons flying high.
It's important to educate new players not only on how to perform the exercises, but also why they're doing them and how they're going to benefit from them on the field.
"My responsibilities vary greatly depending on the time of year, but a majority of what I do is train players to improve their movement quality, strength, and general conditioning," Beauchemin, 25, says as he kneads a player's cramped calf muscle.
"The overall goal is to reduce the risk of injury. I also play a big role in nutrition and hydration. Most days, our department works with every player on the team, which can be up to 85 players depending on the time of year."
Performance expectations in professional sports are high, and young athletes often overextend themselves. In an effort to reduce preseason injuries, "we put every rookie or new player through a thorough education process," Beauchemin says.
"Our training philosophy is to put a large emphasis on improving movement quality. It's important to educate new players not only on how to perform the exercises, but also why they're doing them and how they're going to benefit from them on the field."
When the season ends, the athletic performance team gives players personalized off-season exercise plans that include running, corrective exercises, and strength training.
After graduating from Keene State with a BA in health promotion and fitness in 2006, Beauchemin began working at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning, a Boston-area personal training facility. In January 2009, Jeff Fish of the Falcons contacted Mike Boyle about filling a spot in the team's training program. Boyle recommended Beauchemin, who was hired about three weeks later.
Beauchemin credits Keene State 's athletic training program for his success.
"Keene's health promotion and fitness specialization gave me the base of knowledge I needed," he says. "The exercise physiology, kinesiology, nutrition, fitness testing, and strength and conditioning classes really helped me step into my career path. Plus, I loved Keene's personable atmosphere. I had a great relationship with all of my teachers, especially my academic advisor (assistant professor of health science) Becky Brown, who helped me switch majors from psychology to health science; Chris Miles (BodyWorks fitness center manager); and Sarah Testo, the strength and conditioning coach for many of our teams. They provided me with the professional networks that got me to where I am today."
Keene State is also important for another major reason: it's where he met his wife, Karly '05, a former Keene State swimmer.