Dan Weller: No Limits On Learning
A recent phone call to Dan Weller at his Fort Myers, Florida, home found him in the best of spirits, due in part to the warm breezes and a satisfying round of golf earlier that day. The retired health and physical education teacher has earned his way to a life of leisure, but Weller, who turns 72 years old in March, isn’t ready to simply ride his golf cart off into the sunset.
He plans to be on the sidelines at South Fort Myers High School this fall working as an assistant football coach and the strength and conditioning coach. It will mark his 50th year coaching football, while serving as the strength coach for most of those years as well.
It can all be traced back to 1970, when Weller earned a degree in education from West Chester University in his native Pennsylvania, with the goal of getting into coaching. He added his masters four years later and hasn't stopped using his knowledge since.
Nor has he stopped adding to that knowledge. Weller recently became an ISSA certified personal trainer and is in the process of adding a certificate in strength and conditioning. Never mind that he already possesses many of the qualifications needed to teach the course; Weller knows he can never stop learning, and until his body tells him otherwise, he won’t stop teaching.
“I was interested in learning about anything that could help me to become a better coach,” Weller said when asked about where his interest in weight training came from.
Weller has coached at both the high school and college level. On three different occasions the school he was working for did not have a formal workout program or a proper facility. Weller designed weight training facilities for all three schools.
He also spent time in Austria the past three years teaching American football and hopes to do so again before his coaching days are over.
In each instance, Weller has focused on improving strength as a way to improve performance. It was the subject of the research paper he did in grad school, and when test studies showed that the athletes who lifted weights outperformed those who didn’t, a major part of his coaching philosophy was established.
Weller ran track in college and learned firsthand how effective weight training can be in improving performance. He went through a vigorous 12-week lifting program and said he was able to trim one second off of his 400-meter time, which is a significant improvement.
As a coach, he also stressed the importance of bringing the same level of competitiveness to the weight room that the athletes showed on the field. At various stops in his career, Weller set up programs where awards were given out for reaching goals, showing the most improvement, etc. When the athletes bought in the results followed.
“We’re going to incorporate some of those same things at (Fort Meyers) South,” Weller said. “We want it to be safe, but competitive. High school athletes have come a long way as far as their levels of strength and conditioning. In order to be able to compete on the field you have to buy into it and put in the work.”
The concept of adding strength and fitness to increase performance was a theme in the health classes Weller taught in high school as well.
“We talked about exercise, fitness, and weight control,” Weller said. “We talked about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, and how those things affected performance.”
Weller acknowledges that he has added some weight to his once trim 5-foot-10 frame. But he said he still tries to work out four days a week, and is proud to say that he still bench presses 275 pounds. He’s facing shoulder surgery in February but plans to resume lifting once he gets the clearance from doctors.
He’s been assured that he’ll be able to play golf again, as well. It’s a passion, but clearly not his only one.
Whether you’re adding to your knowledge base or starting a new career, the ISSA’s Personal Trainer Certification course can help you take life to the next level.