We sat down with the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Stockton Kings, Ernie DeLosAngeles.
Tell us about your main responsibilities as Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Stockton Kings.
My main responsibilities include trying to make sure that the players are as fit as possible, as healthy as possible, and in the best overall general shape they can be as they go throughout the season. It’s a long season and we have a tough travel schedule so, that’s the majority of it. I’m making sure, when it comes to game time, that the Head Coach has a roster full of able bodies.
Additionally, I also double as the team nutritionist. We consult with our Gatorade Sports Science Institute Nutritionist a lot. She’ll give me input as far as what kind of meals we should be ordering in terms of meals pre-game, food post-game, what we should give the guys in the middle of the game in order to fuel them so they can sustain performance.
Katie [Luhring] and I also try to help these guys out with recovery. We’ll give them compression units, ice baths and any kind of recovery methods. And also, rehabilitation. Unfortunately, when guys do get injured, I help Katie to get the guys from injury through rehab. It’s just me and Katie as far as the sports health and performance team goes, so we have to juggle a lot and balance a lot ourselves.
What was your favorite part of your inaugural season in this role?
Being from Stockton, it was exciting just having the team come to Stockton. I thought it was a unique opportunity to be able to work in my hometown doing something that I enjoy. Getting to be part of that whole process of bringing the team here and seeing the first game–I think that was the biggest thing for me.
Being able to be in front of my hometown and give them a team that they can cheer for, a team that they can rally behind…that was really cool.
How did you find yourself in the world of athletic training and coaching? Was this something you have always known you wanted to do?
No, actually. I played sports in high school and I thought I was about to go on and play college ball and then go to the league, like everybody does. That was the route that I had in mind. I soon realized that that wasn’t going to be a possibility. So, I went to school as a business major. Once I graduated, I realized that being in an office and sitting in a cubicle was not going to be for me.
I had taken an anatomy class, which was one of my pre-req[uisites] for graduating, and that kind of led me down the path of athletic training. From there, I guess you could say the rest is history.
What kinds of things are you doing in the offseason to help prepare the guys for regular season?
The front part of the offseason has been doing the draft workouts. We’ve had 17 separate draft workouts. With that, we’re doing a lot of anthropometric testing, so that includes testing body fat, height, and wingspan. And we also do a series of medical tests and then head out to the court and test skills like their vertical jump, speed, and agility.
Aside from that, we’re also spending time with some of our guys who come back and forth between Sacramento and their home base. So, we also have a designated offseason program for them. Right now, we don’t have a lot of guys since some are in L.A. or Miami, but we always have a least one or two bodies here.
Additionally, right now, making sure the guys are up to speed and preparing them for Summer League is a big part of it too.
How do you help motivate players who may need that extra push to keep them going?
I feel like the motivation piece is kind of tricky. You might try to motivate them by hyping them up with music, but I feel like that’s not long-lasting. So, I really try to use that sparingly.
I really try to figure out what these guys want out of their career or out of the season. I try to get to know the guys as individuals. Rico Hines, our assistant coach, always says, “What’s their big picture?” And then we can try to line up what we’re doing at that moment to their big picture.
You want to get to the league? Let’s start working on your body. Let’s say you know you have a high body fat percentage. Let’s try to get that down so that it will help you on the court and you can get a contract.
So, we really just try to piece everything together based on their big picture. I think motivation from that standpoint is a little bit more long-lasting. Getting to know them and what they want out of the season and then trying to work backwards from there. I think that’s the biggest thing.
Do you have any goals for yourself this upcoming season? Anything you want to improve upon from last season?
No, I feel like I was great. I was real excellent last year. No—I’m just kidding. Of course, yeah— I have a lot of goals.
My first season was in Reno, so I had an understanding of what everything entailed. But, last season was my first season in Stockton and my first year with the Head Coach. This season, I know what [the Head Coach] wants and what he’s expecting. I also know from a logistics standpoint what we’re capable of doing and what we’re not capable of doing. So, this year, Katie and I laid out a plan as far as what we would like to see from our players. Now we know what resources we have, we know what the Head Coach wants.
So, I guess the biggest goal would be setting the right culture right from the jump. Making sure that guys know that when they come into the facility, we’re not just here to play games and hope you get a call up.
I don’t know what it was like in college, your other G-League team, or even if you were in the NBA. But here, we want to develop you as a person, we want to win a championship, and then we also want you to meet the goals that you want. I want to let them know right from the beginning about the culture that we have here at the Stockton Kings.