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HAZELWOOD: Hard work put Lodermeier on track to Division I job

Mark Hazelwood • Jul 31, 2018 at 7:30 PM

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. — No one, including himself, ever mistook Kyle Lodermeier as one of the most elite Norwalk basketball players of the last decade.

But the 2009 Norwalk graduate lived and breathed the sport — and exhausted every ounce of the sport from his mind and body. The end result of his relentless work and passion: running an NCAA Division I men's basketball team's strength and conditioning program.

"Kyle wasn't a great high school player by any imagination like some of our standouts," said 17-year Norwalk boys hoops coach Steve Gray. "But he played as hard and with as much guts and determination as any kid I've ever coached."

Lodermeier was named the Assistant Director of Athletic Performance at Gardner-Webb University on June 15, where he will be overseeing the physical development of the men's basketball team.

After turning himself into an All-Northern Ohio League second team selection in 2008-09, Lodermeier went on to play four years at Div. II Malone University — after making the team following an open gym tryout.

With a basic level of interest in training and performance while pursuing a degree in exercise science, Lodermeier originally was breaking into the field of physical therapy.

But eventually different doors opened, and thanks partly to a connection with Gray — Lodermeier suddenly found himself as an intern and helping assist the strength and conditioning program at the University of Michigan.

Prior to Norwalk, Gray coached the UM strength coach, Jon Sanderson, at Lexington High School just south of Mansfield.

"That really got me in the door as far as wanting to pursue this as a career," Lodermeier said. "Suddenly helping an elite Big Ten program was something that was very different from Norwalk and my college athletics experience. I was fortunate to be surrounded by excellent coaches and professionals in all worlds of basketball and performance.

"I was able to learn a lot from them and develop a network of people I can rely on and reach out to for help if I ever have questions on things," he added. "Definitely a once in a lifetime kind of experience."

Essentially, Lodermeier was the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Wolverines' men's and women's basketball teams. Adding to the experience — the men's team was 59-20 during his two seasons in Ann Arbor, including a loss to Villanova in the national championship game three-plus months ago.

"I worked with Jon on developing our programs in the weight room and conditioning, then implementing them and working with the teams on a daily basis," Lodermeier said. "Moving down to Gardner-Webb, I've assumed ownership of the position here.

"Basically, I'm in charge of designing our workouts, coaching guys in weight room and physically getting them ready to compete at the Division I level," he added.

Being able to watch one of his grittiest players progress to Div. I from afar, Gray has seen Lodermeier simply come out of his quiet shell.

"He left Norwalk as a hard worker, but yet — a very shy person who was uncomfortable in the limelight in terms of public speaking and things like that," Gray said. "Jon is one of the top strength coaches in the country at Michigan, and Kyle went to him very knowledgeable, but yet lacking the self-confidence to be a D1 strength coach.

"With the work of Jon and his own hard work, he overcame his somewhat shy personality," he added. "Kyle has really grown up from a shy young man to grown man who has ability to lead a Division I basketball team in weight room, and we all know how important that is."

The move from UM to Gardner-Webb was simply the next step in Lodermeier's career — and he noted that Boiling Springs, N.C. already has a Norwalk feel to it.

"There is about 5,000 people in the town, so it is small, similar to Norwalk," he said. "Gardner-Webb is a Christian University rooted in values, and the people have been terrific.

"It's also a team that has had a lot of success and been right on the cusp of the NCAA tournament," Lodermeier added. "Coach (Chris) Holtmann at Ohio State, he was the head coach here before he went on to Butler and then the Buckeyes — so he kind of got things trending upward. The community and success of the teams is really what led me down here."

The hard work and getting the most out of every basketball opportunity is something that Lodermeier believes represents the Maple City the most.

"Something I take away from Norwalk is my family has been there for a long time — and you're able to develop those relationships within the community," he said. "My dad (Jeff) owns a small business (Linwood Automotive) and has been there for his whole life. You just learn to value community and people.

"Those things serve me well in my network and ability to make relationships — and to just be genuine," Lodermeier added. "You know where you come from and don't be pretentious. Those are the values of my family and my upbringing from a small town and my mentors like Coach Gray and Coach (Tim) Walker at Malone. They all kind of shaped me to what's important, not just from a basketball and training standpoint — but also as a role model and being a mentor for young men and women."

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