Curt Truhe grew up in Elk Point, South Dakota, and became interested in strength and conditioning because he wanted to run faster. Ultimately that led to a career helping people become better athletes.
This former Augustana University football player now serves as general manager of Sanford Sports Performance’s 10,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in Irvine, California. As such he brings a little bit of his home state and a lot of Sanford Sports Performance’s game-changing delivery of training expertise to another part of the country.
Truhe is quick to make the point that the same expertise that has attracted professional athletes from several sports to the Irvine facility he now oversees is also present in Sanford Sports Performance training for young athletes in Sioux Falls, Fargo, Bismarck, Bemidji and Grand Forks.
Strength and conditioning basics
“We’re all headed toward the same destination,” said Truhe, general manager of Sanford Sports Performance. “You might get a little specialized as you advance and want to see growth in one area or another but overall it’s very similar to what we do with our young athletes and what we do organization-wide with Sanford Sports Performance.”
Truhe, who was a strength and conditioning coach for the Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League prior to becoming a part of Sanford Sports Performance, oversees the day-to-day operations in Irvine. Those entities include a Sanford Sports Academy golf program and accompanying sports physical therapy and recovery services.
“Curt has a real engaging, outgoing personality like a lot of great coaches and teachers do,” said Scott Hettenbach, director of the Sanford Sports Performance. “He has roots in South Dakota so he understands what Sanford is and what we’re all about.”
Pro athlete experience
His experience working with NHL players has given him insight into the world of professional athletes. It’s a necessary component in this case because of the presence of REP 1 Sports, a full-service athlete representation agency based in Irvine that shares the same location.
“We have a lot going on in the same building,” Truhe said. “I try to make sure those relationships are beneficial to everyone here. On the Sanford Sports Performance side, I help with the programming and making sure our staff has all the resources they need to work with the athletes. We stay in communication with Sioux Falls to make sure we’re staying up to date with everything going on there. And vice versa.”
REP 1 Sports and Sanford Sports Performance have called each other teammates since 2020.
Truhe’s involvement in the world of performance training began when he made a deal with his father. It went like this: He would forgo participation in high school track as a sophomore to work with a strength and conditioning coach who would help him increase his speed. Like many small-town athletes, he played sports year-round. In this case, he thought he could get better at all of them if he trained a little smarter.
“I wanted to do performance training to help me prepare for the other sports I played,” he said. “I developed a good relationship with my coach and told him about what a cool job it was. You help athletes and you work with people. And he’s like ‘Yeah, I love it.’”
When Truhe began getting recruited by colleges to play football, he zeroed in on Augustana, where they had a strong exercise science program and he would have the opportunity to learn alongside the Vikings’ strength and conditioning staff.
“I knew it was what I really wanted to do,” Truhe said. “So I guess I have my inability to run fast to thank for that.”
‘Bring that knowledge back’
This time of year Truhe is surrounded by people who want to improve as athletes. The REP 1 Agency that shares the Sanford Sports Performance location has many draft-eligible football players at the facility preparing for what they hope is an NFL career.
While the connection with professional athletes works as a significant marketing boost for Sanford Sports Performance, the collaboration’s real value is in how it delivers the latest in performance training to all athletes.
“I liken it to the kinds of things we do within our hospital system,” Hettenbach said. “We might send our physicians or our nurses to an urban setting to work with some of the top experts in the country and then bring that knowledge base back. I think that’s what Irvine does for Sanford Sports. It puts us in a different market with a more urban setting and gives us exposure to different types of athletes. It is then shared with our other coaches and staff throughout our footprint.”
This arrangement works on two levels: No. 1, it gives REP 1 Agency’s athletes direct access to state-of-the-art training facilities and guidance; No. 2, it confirms that the work done by Sanford Sports Performance staff is at an elite level.
‘We measure everything’
“From the start of January through the pre-draft part of the schedule things are happening pretty quickly around here,” Truhe said. “There is a lot of intensity that goes into that with the players working out twice a day. We measure everything – it is all being recorded and filmed. It takes some time to sit down and decipher all that information. We need to know what it’s telling us in real time.”
The pre-draft activity leads right into the time when current NFL players begin preparing for their next season. A year ago, the facility was host to approximately 40 NFL players preparing for the coming year.
“At the end of the season a lot of guys aren’t as strong or as fast as they were at the beginning,” Truhe said. “They need some time off. Then they get to a point where, in eight weeks, they have to be able to flip a switch and be back to their peaks. We help them get there.”
The Irvine facility individualizes the specific needs of its athletes. They are doing the same things in Sioux Falls, Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck and Bemidji. Athletically speaking in this case, it doesn’t matter where you live. It matters where you want to go.
“We never get too far from our principles,” Truhe said. “We look at our athletes and give them what they need to excel. Where are you now in terms of your skills and abilities? How can we help you tap into that? What are your weaknesses and how can we help you address them? When you take a step back and look at what we do, the approach is very similar with pro athletes and youth athletes.”
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