Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University Athletics has announced two key personnel moves in the area of Athletics Performance by the elevating of Dave Cencer to Coordinator of Athletics Performance and the hiring of John Hammersmith as the Bulldogs' first-ever full-time strength and conditioning coach, according to an announcement made today by FSU Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger.
Cencer, a Big Rapids native who has been associated with Ferris State Hockey since 2003, will oversee Athletics Performance encompassing student-athlete development, injury prevention, nutrition/hydration and general conditioning by continuing to work directly with Bulldog Hockey as well as the women's soccer program.
Meanwhile, Hammersmith joins the FSU program and will coordinate strength and conditioning duties for the school's other 15 varsity programs under Cencer's direction on a full-time basis. He played collegiate football in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) at the University of Findlay and spent two years as the Assistant Strength & Conditioning coach at the University of Central Missouri following two years in a similar role at NCAA Division I Bowling Green State. Most recently, he has served since May as a professional strength and conditioning intern with the University of Notre Dame football program.
""The addition of Dave and John in this capacity will provide our student-athletes with resources, incentive and motivation to become the best that they can be," said Weisenburger. "The opportunity has always been there, but now with Dave's Leadership and the addition of John, we are able to help our programs even more.
"As the fundraising for our new Center for Athletics Performance gains momentum, we can only be more and more optimistic about what this means for all programs at Ferris State," he added.
Cencer completed his 11th year as a full-time member of the Bulldog Hockey staff in 2016-17. In his time with Ferris State Hockey, Cencer has implemented the latest in sports science technology, using First Beat Technologies to monitor heart rate, energy expenditure and recovery. In 2016-17, under his training direction the Bulldogs led the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) in fewest man-games lost due to injury.
During Cencer's time at Ferris State, he has helped lead the team to two conference regular-season championships (2012 Central Collegiate Hockey Association and 2014 Western Collegiate Hockey Association), three NCAA Final Eight appearances and a berth in the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four National Championship Game. He has also helped develop four America Hockey Coaches Association All-Americans and three National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) All-American athletes.
"I'm excited to take on an expanded role and looking forward to working with John in this area," Cencer said. "I'm appreciative to Perk, Bob Daniels (hockey coach) and Andy McCaslin (women's soccer) along with our university administration for the work they've done to make this opportunity happen. I'm thrilled with the direction our department is taking towards athletics performance and strength and conditioning, which I'm confident will lead to even bigger and better results in the years ahead at Ferris State."
Cencer holds a master's degree in exercise science along with certifications from the NSCA (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) and USA Weightlifting. In 2016, Cencer was named to the Michigan Advisory Board of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He has also been a presenter for the NSCA at both state and national conferences. In addition to his experience at Ferris State, Cencer coached the 2009-2010 season with the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks organization. A competitive cyclist, Cencer earned a bachelor's degree from Franciscan University.
Hammersmith brings more than five years of professional experience in strength and conditioning, athletic coaching and technique development to FSU. A 2013 Findlay graduate, Hammersmith served since 2015 at Central Missouri in a graduate assistant role where he employed a wide range of strength and conditioning techniques to help support the plan and execution of athletic performance for 10 varsity sports. He implemented training programs, assisted in daily maintenance and duties of the varsity weight room and supported the introduction and technique of Olympic-style lifting along with other duties.
"John brings a great deal of experience to this position and his enthusiasm for strength and conditioning will be an extremely valuable asset for Bulldog Athletics," said Cencer. "Having experience as a student-athlete at Findlay combined with what he has done working with teams at both the Division I and II levels makes him a perfect candidate to become the first person in this capacity at Ferris State. He brings a great deal of energy and experience and understands what it takes to be successful at this level."
Prior to his stint at Central Missouri, Hammersmith held an internship role as the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Bowling Green State. In that position, he implemented and oversaw training programs for women's tennis, women's track, women's swimming, women's golf, men's golf, softball, men's soccer, baseball and rugby. He also assisted with the Falcons' football squad during his tenure.
Hammersmith started his career as a volunteer strength and conditioning coach at Tinora High School in Defiance, Ohio, in 2011. He also was the volunteer assistant strength and conditioning coach at Findlay in 2012-13 prior to taking the Bowling Green State position. While at Findlay, Hammersmith worked with 24 different programs and instructed student-athletes in areas such as agility, quickness and speed development in addition to lifting techniques and training programs.
"We're excited about having John Hammersmith on board and believe his hire will give us a competitive edge we haven't had before," said FSU men's basketball head coach Andy Bronkema. "He brings a great deal of experience and a commitment to enhancing the performance of our student-athletes. His addition is a tremendous one for Ferris State Athletics."
A three-year letterwinner and Academic All-GLIAC football honoree at Findlay, Hammersmith also spent time working in the athletic performance area at the University of Findlay's recreational center along with the Performance Zone in Findlay. He holds a bachelor's degree in health sciences with an emphasis in strength and conditioning along with a master's degree in kinesiology.
"Our programs and especially our student-athletes will benefit greatly from having a full-time strength and conditioning coach," said FSU volleyball head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm. "We've long needed a person to manage this area and John Hammersmith is an outstanding and well-qualified person to lead us as we continue to strive for championship success."
Hammersmith was chosen following an extensive search process by an eight-member search committee, which included among others four FSU head coaches and was chaired by Cencer. He will begin his duties at FSU this Thursday (July 13).