Helland named men's basketball strength and conditioning coach
MADISON – Erik Helland has been selected to join the men's basketball program as the team's strength and conditioning coach, the UW athletic department announced on Thursday.
Helland, who has served on the Chicago Bulls strength and conditioning staff since 1988 and the head strength coach since 2001, has over two decades of experience as a certified National Strength and Conditioning specialist and level I USA Weightlifting coach.
"We are extremely excited that Erik will be working on a day-to-day basis with the Wisconsin basketball program," head coach Bo Ryan said. "He is renowned in the field of strength and conditioning and specifically basketball training. Erik has the experience and background to maximize athletes and understands the physicality and quickness needed for our game. He has worked with some of the best basketball players in the history of the game and we believe his addition is beyond a home run for us."
"I get excited to work with great people, and that is what this opportunity represents to me first and foremost," Helland said. "I think that the core values and principles that Coach Ryan has built this program on are ones that we share and make it a great fit me. For me, it is right people, at the right place, at the right time."
Helland's tenure with the Bulls included six NBA championships, including a pair of three-peats, and an NBA record 72 regular-season wins in 1995-96. Helland also oversaw the strength and physical development of Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame honorees Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Robert Parish.
A native of Edgerton, Wis., Helland was instrumental in the growth and dominance of the youngest MVP in NBA history, Derrick Rose, who was honored with the award in 2011. Hellend is also credited in the development of 2013 NBA All-Stars Luol Deng and Joakim Noah as well as past Bulls greats Horace Grant, John Paxson, Steve Kerr, B.J. Armstrong and Toni Kukoč.
"From a philosophical perspective I view the players as individuals, bound together by a common goal," Helland explained. We will strive to create a positive, educational environment where the players' perception of who they are as athletes and people, and who they can be will be challenged daily.
"I have been blessed to have been around exceptional coaches and players my whole career. I have seen great successes and great failures, but each of those experiences have taught life lessons, and I try to share these lessons whenever appropriate. I see my role primarily as a teacher and a mentor, and I am beyond excited to be able to have a part in our student-athletes development at the University of Wisconsin."
Following 13 seasons as an assistant, Helland took over the reins of the strength program in 2001, where his duties included conducting some of the most comprehensive testing protocols in the NBA, assisting in pre-NBA Draft workouts and NBA free agent assessments.
Helland has consulted with numerous college and professional strength and conditioning programs, and has worked extensively with athletes from the NFL and European Basketball Leagues, as well as professional, collegiate and high school athletes from nearly every sport.
"Everyone we talked to about Erik reaffirmed what we believed about him, that he is first class and is admired across the field," Ryan added. "He is the guy that everyone calls to consult on hirings and trends in the industry. His personality will fit in instantly and we're thrilled that he really wants to be a part of our program and be among the UW and Madison community."
Prior to his stint with the Bulls, Helland coached at Elk Mound (Wis.) High School and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is a 1987 graduate of UW-Eau Claire where he earned his degree in physical education with an emphasis on athletic training and coaching. Helland and his wife, Michele, have two sons, Gunnar and Trevar.
What they're saying about Erik Helland… "Erik has been an integral part of our organization for a long time. I hate to lose him but I understand why this is such a unique and special opportunity for him and his family. He is far more than just a great strength and conditioning coach. He embodies what winning is all about. He is a terrific leader, teacher and communicator. He will help each individual player develop and reach their maximum potential. He will be a perfect fit for Wisconsin Basketball."
- Tom Thibodeau Head Coach, Chicago Bulls
"Eric has distinguished himself as one of the top strength and conditioning coaches in the field. He has done an incredible job for our franchise and was well respected by our players. Not only was he successful in developing our players, but he also impacted many young strength coaches who have gone on to have successful careers."
- Gar Forman General Manager, Chicago Bulls
"Erik is one of the best in the business. He was an integral part of the Bulls championship runs and was really loved and respected by the players for all the hard work he put in and the improvement we all saw under his guidance."
- Steve Kerr Five-Time NBA Champion, TNT Analyst
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