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Aggie Upgrade - With the help of their friends and neighbors at Samson Equipment, New Mexico State completed a major renovation to their strength and conditioning facility.

by: AFM Editorial Staff
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One would be hard pressed to find a strength and conditioning coach with more experience than Don Decker. One of only 140 individuals worldwide to have been named a master level strength coach by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Association, Decker’s 24-year collegiate career includes 15 seasons at Arkansas and four at Ole Miss, working with some of the most prominent coaches in the sport. Now, as Director of Strength and Conditioning at New Mexico State University, Decker supervises an Aggie program that is housed in a recently-renovated strength and conditioning facility.

When it came time to acquire new state-of-the-art strength equipment for the upgraded facility, they turned to their Las Cruces neighbors and long-time friends of the Aggie program at Samson Equipment. AFM recently asked Coach Decker about his strength and conditioning philosophy and his work with Samson Equipment.

When you joined the New Mexico State program in 2013, what were the challenges you faced? 

When I started at New Mexico State University (NMSU), I inherited four full-time staff members and one graduate assistant, so my first step was to get everyone on the same page. I introduced what the Sports Performance brand, culture, and quality would be under my leadership and how we would train and develop our athletes. I am very pleased with the progress we have made over the last year.

What goals and priorities did you establish for the future?

The brand that marks New Mexico State football and Sports Performance is “Make a Play”. The Head Football Coach, Doug Martin, started this mantra, so this starts at the top and is passed all the way down to the athletes. For my staff and me, “Making a Play”, starts with giving each athlete all the tools they need to be successful. When an athlete makes a commitment to come to NMSU, we promise them that we will do everything we can to help them achieve their goals and dreams. During this process our objective is to improve the athletic performance of each athlete and to help them prevent injuries. In order to do this, we must unlock the doors (any weaknesses) that stand between what they want to do and where they want to go. So as a staff we have to “Make Plays”. 

How did your years coaching in the SEC shape your perspective on strength and conditioning?
I’m very thankful for the 19 years that I had the opportunity to coach in the SEC. It was during those years I had many great minds in the business invest in my career. Guys like John Stucky, Houston Nutt, Al Miller, Loren Seagrave, Lance Walker, Chuck Stiggins,  Johnny Parker, and Tom Moffitt to name a few. During that time and with the help of these men, I was able to create a standard and a process that leads athletes to be able to “Make Plays”.

The culture of our program is where the process and standard are housed. The culture at NMSU is, “It’s not about trying; it’s about doing,” because, “Trying is a half-hearted effort with a view toward failure”. Each member of my staff and every athlete must do their job and not try to do their job in order for the entire athletic department to be successful. 

You worked closely with Samson Equipment in the product selection and layout of your renovated training facility. How did Samson help to meet your needs?

 We just finished a $800,000.00 renovation of the Coca-Cola Weight Room. There were several individuals that said they wanted to “Make a Play” for the athletes at NMSU. Samson Equipment really stepped up. Samson was such a perfect fit for this project. First of all, twenty years ago they were the company that put the weight room together for the first time. Dave and Linda Schroeder, founders and owners of the company, both went to school at NMSU and served on the committee that oversaw the building of the Coca-Cola Weight Room. Their sons, Brian and Scott, who now help run the family business, were the lead members of the Samson team on this project. You could say that we were able to keep it in the family. Samson is located in Las Cruces, so working with a local company created a lot of advantages with design and communication. And the last reason is the fact that they build a quality product that anyone would be proud to have in their weight room. 

What are the key features of your remodeled facility?

Our new room has Mondo flooring with 24 in-laid Samson Equipment platforms and racks. All 24 racks have the Elite Form technology on them. NMSU is the only school in the country to have 24 elite form systems. We have a 4,300 square foot turf area as well as three dumbbell bays that contain three full sets of logoed dumbbells from 5 lbs. – 140 lbs. Some other important additions have been the three Vertimax units and a new cardio area.

What has been your athletes experience with the new Samson equipment?

 Some of the unique things that Samson did in their rack design as well as the NMSU branding they did definitely creates conversation for all who enter the new room. The athletes at NMSU have a lot to brag about.

The commitment to create one of the best weight rooms I have worked in during my 25 years in this business has helped change the culture at NMSU. Giving the athletes the best tools to hone their craft creates an atmosphere for success. The support from donors and the leadership’s vision at NMSU has made this program a place where every athlete can achieve all of their goals and dreams. I am grateful to be a part of what is happening. It is an exciting time to be at NMSU.


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