Fresh Face for Division I Athletics
As one of the youngest directors of strength and conditioning in Division I athletics, Nic Obey is responsible for building and toning every muscle of the Eagles’ lineup at Georgia Southern University (GSU). To properly train athletes in the various sports he oversees, Obey focuses on the power of the basics, drawing on lessons he learned while at NDSU.
Now primarily working with baseball at the Statesboro, Georgia school with a total enrollment of 20,500 students, his athletic experience includes playing on NDSU’s baseball team from 2010 to 2011, after two years of baseball at Des Moines Area Community College. Obey was also a three-sport athlete in high school, playing baseball, football and basketball in Chatfield, Minnesota.
There’s no secret to success for Obey and the athletes he trains, just hard work within the weight room in the short- term, and growing leadership by developing a dedicated culture in the long-run.
“Culture plays a huge role,” Obey said about his move from the northern tundra to the swamps of the south. “It was the same at NDSU as it is here. I’m trying to develop a championship team.”
Obey was elated to join an already successful strength staff at Georgia Southern in February 2014. A year and a half into his new job, Obey experienced Georgia Southern history. He was on the staff that helped guide the Eagles’ football program to their first-ever bowl win over Bowling Green in the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl.
Obey was promoted to director of strength and conditioning nine months later. As of this September, he became one of the youngest directors in Division I athletics.
In cultivating his own culture of success, the former Bison outfielder uses his experience on the field and lessons he learned working under NDSU strength and conditioning coach Jason Miller as a model for enabling athletes to reach their full potential.
“I wasn’t the most talented guy coming into college,” Obey said modestly. “But I was determined that I was going to outwork people, and that’s how I was going to get better. That is where my passion for the weight room came in as well because I saw what it did for me as a player.”
Bread and Butter of Baseball
During his first year as a part of the Herd, the slugger hit a memorable pair of home runs, including a grand slam against Western Illinois. One day later, a Leatherneck pitcher broke Obey’s nose and eye socket in Macomb, Illinois, costing him 11 games over a three-week span.
His senior year would also prove to be a challenge, with a new kind of bat throwing a curveball into his 2011 season. The old pop from BESR certified aluminum bats vanished and the new Ball-Bat Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) bats were introduced, but it reduced exit velocity from batted balls. Hitting numbers fell throughout college baseball.
For Obey, dealing with this change felt by the entire country required continuing his meticulous attention to the smallest details.
“You look at any big leaguer, they don’t slack off in the weight room. Every hitter that’s in the big leagues can drive a baseball, and that’s what I wanted to do, too,” said Obey.
He attributes his determination and drive in-part to the strength and conditioning staff at NDSU, especially Jim Kramer, who helped him get an internship with Chris Doyle at the University of Iowa after Obey earned his undergraduate degree in exercise science. Obey returned to NDSU for two years as a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach while earning a master’s degree in leadership in physical education and sport.
“(Miller and Kramer) challenged me every day to get better, and I learned a lot,” said Obey. “I still look up to him to this day. There’s no shortcuts. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”
Obey had box seats to a flourishing program of athletes at NDSU, observing the process and energy Miller brought to the weight room every day and how it affected the athletes’ performance. In addition to playing baseball with Zach Wentz, Obey assisted the football team during future first-round draft pick Carson Wentz’s freshman year.
“A lot of it is a credit to our coaches and support staff at NDSU for developing talent,” explained Obey. “We all root for each other no matter what. That was the kind of family atmosphere we had at NDSU, and I know that’s still the case today.”
Strength as a Foundation
To complement the family environment he’s building at Georgia Southern, Obey’s emphasis on the little things is all part of a bigger plan to hone each athlete’s overall strength, endurance and agility.
“We’re going to be brilliant at the basics,” said Obey. “All of the methods I use are designed to allow the student-athlete to progress to their fullest potential and peak at the proper time in a competitive season. Strength is the foundation of everything we do. If you’re not getting stronger, you’re getting weaker.”
While leaving Fargo for his new colleagues in Statesboro meant saying goodbye to a team that felt like family, the move enabled Obey to step into a new leadership role that he’s been preparing for his whole life. He’s also stepping into the role of husband, having recently married Morgan (Williams) Obey, on December 3, 2016, in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“My experience as an athlete and working with Coach Miller had an effect on what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” said Obey. “It definitely was the best decision I could’ve made because I wouldn’t be where I am today without coming to NDSU.”
Obey continues to apply the hands-on approach he learned as a Bison to Georgia Southern, impacting lives by helping to develop life strategies that yield success as a person and athlete. His age might not show it, but Obey’s extensive experience is sure to inspire growth and fortify the Eagles’ new position as a powerhouse in the Sun Belt Conference.