HOUSTON – Sports have always been a part of Second Baptist School's Strength and Conditioning Coach Nick Mascioli's life.
Mascioli's father played college basketball, which helped lead him to the court, but also to the soccer field and baseball diamond in high school.
Growing up in the Philadelphia area, Mascioli decided to stay close to home going on to play college baseball at Westchester University, 30 minutes west of Philadelphia, where he was a part of a national championship-winning team.
Along the way, Mascioli experienced a few injuries, which ended up spurring his interest in strength and conditioning and injury prevention.
"I had a contact injury in high school playing soccer. I rehabbed my knee, had a really good experience, and ended up being faster and stronger than ever coming off the injury," Mascioli said. "I reaggravated it in college my freshman year. At that time, I wondered if somebody who was training me in college knew what they were doing, could this have been avoided? That spurred me on to pursue exercise science."
While at Westchester University, Mascioli interned at a semi-private baseball facility during his senior year. After graduation, Mascioli went to massage therapy school and received his soft tissues license before going to Indianapolis to intern at Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training from September to December in 2015.
Next stop – the Pittsburgh Pirates organization as a minor league strength and conditioning coach.
"That was such a great experience. It gave me a different feel of what strength and conditioning looked like," Mascioli said. "Bigger setting, larger scale, obviously professional athletes. More of a collegiate setting rather than a semi-private or private sector."
After spending three and a half years with the Pirates, the work hours and travel started to take its toll. Mascioli went back to school to get his masters.
Attending East Stroudsburg University, Mascioli served as a graduate assistant. He worked with baseball, football, field hockey and tennis athletes.
While there, Mascioli was connected with Second Baptist School's Head of School Dr. Don Davis and Director of Athletics Mike Walker, who were in search of a strength and conditioning coach. After a few meetings, Mascioli said the fit was right, bringing him to Houston.
"What makes this school so cool and special is, from an athletics standpoint, we have a group of coaches that love what they do," Mascioli said. "Every coach, from cross country to football, baseball, basketball -- we have a lot of experienced coaches and some have coached at the collegiate and professional level. They know what they are doing, so they really take the time to coach these kids up. We have an incredible athletic director and staff who want to make us successful at our jobs … There are a lot of resources here and the people are amazing."
Q&A with Nick Mascioli, the Second Baptist School Strength & Conditioning Coach
VYPE: What is your philosophy on training athletes in season?
Mascioli: "When these kids are 12 to 18 years old, many of them just need to learn general foundational movement patterns, how to work hard and have simple consistency with their training programs. So, a lot of my philosophy is to throw a lot of different stimuli at them, especially kids in high school, because they are still maturing and growing and so their bodies can handle a lot of different things all at once. They are going to get better naturally. We want to make all-around better athletes.
"They need to learn how to jump high, land properly, learn how to squat and have single-leg stability. Those are all tangible qualities we want to see in an athlete. If you're a football player or a tennis player, we want to be able to trust those capabilities."
VYPE: You played three sports in high school, what are your thoughts on athletes who play multiple sports in today's age?
Mascioli: "I played three; baseball, football and basketball. I think kids benefit from playing multiple sports. Playing multiple sports allows athletes to rest their bodies or more specific energy systems they are using from another sport. A lot of these athletes just need variability. If they learn to do a lot of different things, they can reduce the risk of injury."
VYPE: What's the biggest thing that you do for injury prevention?
Mascioli: "We do a lot of single-leg work. We do a lot of it. We do work that's going to promote stability. At practice, we incorporate pre-prep warmup. In the gym, we do some type of jumping, throwing and/or landing mechanics. Generally, we are just teaching kids to move the right way.
"A lot of our injury prevention comes from specific exercises. We let athletes choose the ones that work best for them and get them doing it cleanly. So, if they're moving better generally, that's going to clear a lot of things up. I would say in a nutshell, we make sure technique looks really good and that they're getting stronger in the process."
VYPE: How does your role as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Second Baptist School fulfill your passion for coaching?
Mascioli: " It's really cool to see how my perspective of what it means to be a "Strength Coach" has changed over the years. Early on in my career, it was all about science, physiology, programming, exercise, and the list goes on. Very little did I think about the person, and what it means to be a Coach in that sense of the word. Creating good people, turning young boys into men, and young girls into women are just as much of my job description if not more, than creating a program to make athletes perform better. That's where my job at Second Baptist School truly fulfills my passion as a strength and conditioning coach. Our mission here is to help cultivate young men and women who love the Lord and to impact the world around them with Jesus being the focus. I get to instill that message and culture into my athletes every day. Although I have had opportunities to train in previous settings, Second Baptist has created this platform better than any other place I have been, and that is what drew me to this school. I am truly blessed to be here"
Julia Faseler has seen it all on the volleyball court.
The Second Baptist School senior has been digging volleyballs at an elite level since middle school. She has seen the speed and power of the Class 6A game when she played varsity at state-ranked Pearland Dawson.
The libero moved to Second Baptist School entering her junior season and hit the ground running.
"I really wanted to get to a Christian-based school where the bible is implemented in what we do on and off the court," she said. "It's been a great experience for me personally. I wouldn't change a thing.
"Coach (Sue) Berg has been amazing," she said. "She's one-of-a-kind and is a tremendous motivator. I love playing for her."
Now a senior, Faseler has taken the baton as a team leader for a young team.
"It's been so fun this season," she said. "I've made so many friends here and have grown really close on the court. I've also learned so much on how to effectively lead, which is a great life skill.
"I've played defense my entire career and I love libero so I can control what we are doing on the back row."
The Eagles have been soaring this season as a state-ranked TAPPS squad. Second Baptist had a competitive pre-district slate, which has led to an undefeated conference record so far.
"We are playing well right now," she said. "We had some injuries that effected our season in 2018, so our goal is to go further in the playoffs this year. We have some tough competition, but we are up to it."