Rock Gullickson: Bio
Roger "Rock" Gullickson accepted the head strength and conditioning position at The University of Texas in 1993 under head football coach John Mackovich. Before his career on the 40-acres, Gullickson graduated from Moorhead State College in Moorhead, Minnesota (now Minnesota State University Moorhead), where he also earned All-American honors as a guard on the football team in 1978. Gullickson served as the head strength coach at Moorhead State for one year, and then he took a strength coaching position at Mayville State College in North Dakota followed by a stint at South Dakota State. After his time in the Dakotas, Gullickson then became the head strength and conditioning coach for Montana State and won a national championship with the football team in 1984. During this time, Gullickson competed as a drug-free powerlifter, became the Montana state champion from 1983-1986, and had an eighth place finish at the U.S. National Powerlifting Championships in 1986. Following his success at Montana State, Gullickson was hired by Rutgers University where he was in charge of strength and speed development for the Scarlet Knights football team for three years. Gullickson joined the University of Texas staff as a strength and conditioning coach in 1993.
Gullickson's success at the University of Texas was due to his ability to ignite competition in the weight room. Honor boards showing current record holders in various exercises displayed around the weight room sparked competitiveness among the players. The boards were comprised of school record holders and current team record holders for the given lifts by position. As a result, gullickson witnessed large jumps in strength measures, such as double the number of 400-pound bench pressers and tripling the 300-pound power cleaners among the team from 1992 to 1993. This success garnered praise from Coach John Mackovic who said, "Rock has put a program in place that is goal oriented and helps to build success for players off the field. The progress our team has made in the past twelve months has been dramatic."
Another tactic Gullickson used was the Iron Man competition, in which players would compete against one another to discover who was in the best condition at the various positions. With this tactic, Gullickson was able to challenge his athletes, such as offensive lineman Dan Neil and Blake Brokermeyer, outside of practice. During his tenure, Gullickson witnessed Iron Man battles translate to numerous Longhorn weight records, including Neil and Brokermeyer, both of whom set the push jerk mark at 385 pounds, a new record at the time.
Although Gullickson was a strong advocate for raw strength, he also challenged the players to other areas, such as agility and power movements. Gullickson would test vertical jumping and "jingle jangles" (a measurement of agility) as ways in which skilled positions could demonstrate their ability.
Throughout his career at Texas, Gullickson witnessed the athletes' weight lifting numbers increase as a result of the competition in the weight room. In 1995, Gullickson had just 10 players squat over 550 pounds and 15 players record a vertical jump of 32 inches or more. In 1997, 15 players squatted more than 550 pounds and 21 players jumped 32 inches or higher. One particular athlete, defensive tackle Chris Atkins, broke nearly every Longhorn lifting record during his tenure at Texas. By his senior year, Atkins set marks in the squat, bench, and power clean of 760 pounds, 556 pounds, and 363 pounds, respectively. Atkins credited his on-field performance to his work in the weight room when he said, "I dont' think I'd be playing at a Division I school without the strength I have," said Atkins. "It would be hard for me to see any program better than ours as far as strength and conditioning."
Gullickson's career at Texas ended after the 1997 season, and "Rock" took a position at the University of Louisville in 1998. He then went on to join the New Orleans Saints in 2000 and the Green Bay Packers in 2006, where he helped restructure the Packer's Lambeau weight room in order to incorporate superior weight equipment and a new conditioning area for the players. Gullickson is currently the head strength and conditioning coach for the St. Louis Rams.