While most offices in the Binghamton University Events Center are furnished with the typical decor — a desk, chairs, a computer — there is one office, occupied by Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach Lori Gleason, that deviates from the norm. Gleason’s office is room G27 — the weight room. Rather than the classic furnishings, this space is equipped with barbells, squat racks and treadmills, which are used by BU’s student-athletes on a daily basis.
Here, Gleason can be found spotting athletes as they lift heavy weights or pushing them to finish the last rep in a set of core exercises. Hours before campus starts to show signs of life, she has already begun her day with the swimming and diving team’s 5:30 a.m. lift. Following that hour-long session, she works with the wrestling and men’s lacrosse teams. Later in the day, she and Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Bryan McGovern hold open-hour sessions for athletes who cannot attend team lifts due to class conflicts. Then, she resumes her packed slate of team meetings.
Although the sessions are referred to as team “lifts,” the term is misleading.
“It depends on what the coaches want, because we can do both ends,” Gleason said. “We can do the strength and the conditioning aspect, so for some of our teams, like women’s lacrosse, they have fall ball right now, and then at the end of October, I’ll get them for conditioning as well as lifting.”
Gleason graduated with a degree in fitness development from SUNY Cortland in 2002 before earning her master’s degree in applied exercise science from Springfield College in 2006. That same year, she joined the Binghamton Athletics staff. Currently, she works with approximately half of BU’s 21 Division I men’s and women’s sports teams.
Gleason’s career path, however, almost took a starkly different route.
“I got a job one summer at a corporate fitness center,” she explained. “Corporate fitness was great, but I just didn’t see the challenge because it’s just your everyday worker … relieving their stress.
“While here [at Binghamton], this is what [the athletes] want. They want to play sports. They want to be in DI, and that’s challenging. Every day is a challenge, good and bad days.”
Part of this challenge is creating specialized programs for each team and its individual athletes. Even within the same sport, such as track and field, training regimens can vary greatly.
The impact of Gleason’s work with athletes hasn’t gone unnoticed. At a recent recognition ceremony for BU’s track and field All-Americans, honorees graduate middle-distance runner Jesse Garn and junior jumper Keishorea Armstrong made sure to acknowledge Gleason and her impact.
“Lori, I was pretty small when I first came in,” Garn said at the event. “I’m still pretty small, to be honest, but I’ve made significant gains, and I wouldn’t be as strong as I am, or the athlete I am, without you.”
Gleason herself takes note of the transformations in her athletes, to whom she refers as her “kids.”
“Definitely, over the four years from freshman to senior year, you see huge strength gains,” she said.
Despite the long hours and delicate balance for which her profession calls, Gleason believes that the payoffs of her dedication are well worth the effort.
“It’s so rewarding to see them compete at that level,” she said. “Just watching any of our athletes in competition. I don’t make it to every home game or match, but I do watch frequently from home and see them succeed on the field, on the track, and in the pool.”