Carroll County native Cory Schlesinger is moving a little closer to home and moving up in the strength and conditioning world at the same time.
Schlesinger, who has served as the Director of Strength and Conditioning at Santa Clara University the past three years, has been hired as the Assistant Director of Sports Enhancement to work with the men’s basketball program and men’s golf program at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
As the Director of Strength and Conditioning at Santa Clara, Schlesinger was in charge of overseeing programs in many sports. At UAB, he will be able to focus primarily on men’s basketball.
“The best part of it is I get to focus specifically on men’s basketball. At Santa Clara, I was focusing on scheduling for other sports as well, so to focus strictly on men’s basketball is awesome,” Schlesinger said. “I also get to travel with the team everywhere, so there will be a huge difference in my role. I will be training guys on the road, working with lots of nutrition and regeneration sessions, things of that nature.”
Schlesinger certainly has stayed busy since his 2005 graduation from Carroll County High School, where he was a standout point guard. While attending Berea College, where he started at point guard for two seasons, Schlesinger interned with the strength and conditioning programs at Wake Forest (in 2007) and two terms at the University of North Carolina (2008, 2009), working with men’s basketball and assisting with NBA athletes under strength coach Jonas Sahratian.
A life-long Carolina fan, Schlesinger was part of the program in 2009 when the Tar Heels won their most recent NCAA men’s basketball championship. It was during that internship where he got to know UNC assistant coach Jerod Haase, who was hired as head coach of the UAB men’s basketball program in March of 2012.
“That is where we first met. He was the top assistant at UNC and I was the intern. He contacted me once his strength coach left for Alabama because he remembered me at UNC, and the job was too good to pass up,” Schlesinger said. “Santa Clara was good, but this is a lot more competitive. I believe in Coach Haase, believe he is going to win. He is developing a new program and I want to help him develop it.”
Haase, who was Roy Williams’ top assistant at North Carolina, also thinks highly of what Schlesinger can do for the UAB men’s basketball program.
“Cory’s knowledge for strength and conditioning is something that I love,” Haase said. “He is always trying to learn and grow as a coach, but what he brings with his knowledge is what already really sets him apart from others. He is young and energetic like the rest of our staff and will fit right in. We have a chance to be really good in a lot of different ways and I think strength and conditioning is in good shape.”
The Blazers have a competitive basketball program. From 2008-2011, UAB put together four consecutive 20-win seasons, including a trip to the NCAA Tournament and three NIT appearances. The Blazers were 15-16 in 2011-12, however, and head coach Mike Davis was fired. Haase took over last season and guided the program to a 16-17 mark, but Schlesinger believes the future is very bright in Birmingham.
“Without a doubt, we have a lot of support from the community. They want a high-powered team again and hopefully we can give them that,” Schlesinger said. “We have eight new guys, a lot of JUCO guys and a transfer from Virginia Tech, Robert Brown. We have some key transfers we are looking at making an impact this year.”
Schlesinger certainly left Santa Clara on a high note as the Broncos finished 26-12 last season and won the College Basketball Invitational postseason tournament. Santa Clara also proved competitive in three games against teams ranked No. 1 in the nation last season, falling 90-77 at Duke and 81-74 to Gonzaga.
“We did really well. We had some great non-conference games. We played Duke at Duke and played them really tough, which boosted our confidence,” Schlesinger said. “We played Gonzaga really tough. We were one game away from the NIT, but lost a game in our conference tourney to a team we beat twice. It was a little bit of a heartbreaker, but we won the CBI tourney.”
While he enjoyed his time at Santa Clara, Schlesinger said he is glad to be back in the south. He also hopes to be in Birmingham for a long time.
“I am hoping this is the destination. This is where I want to be. I love the city,” Schlesinger said. “We want to win here and create a tradition at UAB.”
After being so far away on the West Coast, he is glad to be much closer to his mother in Hillsville. He plans to come in August for the Fiddlers’ Convention and spend some time getting back to his roots.
“I was just glad to start my career at Carroll County High School in basketball and I am glad to continue my life and passion in basketball. It all started in that small community in Carroll County,” Schlesinger said. “I enjoy helping guys to prepare themselves on a bigger and bigger stage every year, and hopefully continue on in basketball.”