It takes less than an hour to drive from the Parma home where Stephani Croad was raised to Michigan Stadium. The 2009 Albion College graduate, however, has crossed the boundaries of one of college athletics’ biggest rivalries as she will serve as a strength and conditioning intern for Ohio State University’s football program through December.
Croad, an exercise science major and a four-year letter winner for the Britons’ women’s basketball team, learned about the opportunity on the Internet while completing her master’s degree at Western Michigan University. She is well aware that she is likely a part of a small club.
“It is pretty big to be one of the first females in this position,” said Croad, who also holds a certification from USA Weightlifting. “I think typically there aren’t many females that would even apply. I thought, ‘Why not? The worst they could do was say no.’
“Here I am, a young woman from a small town, and this opportunity is a dream come true,” Croad added. “I am reminding myself that I am their coach and I need to [put my youth and gender] aside.”
Under the direction of Eric Lichter, Ohio State’s director of football performance, Croad said the strength and conditioning staff members spread out in the weight room to watch over the Buckeyes as they go through their routine. While most Americans spend the summer months on vacations to recharge, Croad expects the hot days in Columbus to be intense as most of the student-athletes remain on campus to prepare for the upcoming season.
“I’m expecting it to be more intense, and I know the head strength coach is intense,” Croad said. “They guys are good about (encouraging and pushing) each other.”
Croad admitted that eventually she would prefer to work in a sport other than football, but she realizes a successful experience at Ohio State will pave the way toward a successful career.
“This is a good résumé builder that can set me up with a job anywhere,” Croad said.