Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10
Growing up playing basketball, Ben Kenyon always dreamed of a career in the NBA. “I’ve learned that you are going to get where you are supposed to be,” he said. “You’ll get there as long as you work hard and are focused on your goal.”
A member of the men’s basketball team at Adelphi, it was as a student-athlete that Kenyon decided he still wanted to be a part of the game following graduation, but not as a player. He wanted to work in a role in which he could help athletes.
“I was always a huge fan of the weight room, performance and helping myself and my teammates be better.” After expressing his interest to Adelphi basketball coach James Cosgrove, Coach Cosgrove gave Kenyon the opportunity to develop the team’s preseason workouts and contribute to their conditioning program. “That experience helped me learn that sports performance was what I wanted to be a part of,” he said.
Today Kenyon is exactly where he hoped he would be: working in the NBA. As a sports performance specialist for the Portland Trail Blazers, Kenyon is responsible for everything from creating weight lifting and training programs, injury prevention and rehabilitation work, and planning the players’ nutrition. Kenyon describes his role in this way: “Anything that allows the athlete to play at his highest level by the time the game starts…that’s what I do.”
He works with athletes who have grueling schedules. “Eighty two regular season games is a lot,” he said. “By the time we get to the playoffs, there are going to be minor break downs,” he said. “My goal is to manage that and make sure that the minor bumps and bruises don’t last.” Kenyon’s job is to get his players to as close to 100 percent by game time.
He said his own experience on the court has helped him earn the respect of his players. Kenyon, who you can find working out before entering the gym to do the same with his Portland Trail Blazers, gets out and plays side-by-side with them. “When they see me running up and down the court with them, that helps break down any barriers there might have been,” he said. “They see I do understand what issues they may be having. They listen when I provide advice or ask them to try something different.”
As much as he is concerned with the physical condition of his players, he is equally committed to their improvement off the court. “In this industry, there are a lot of distractions that could affect their performance. We as coaches just try to provide sound advice that will help them in the long run.” Kenyon’s favorite part of his work is helping his players improve overall, not just on the performance side. “To have a player ask a question or say something different than he would have said a year ago is so important,” he said. “Seeing that growth is huge for me.”
As a student at Adelphi, Kenyon received the same kind of mentorship he now provides from his own coaches, professors and members of the staff. “I don’t know if I would have made it if I went to a bigger school where students don’t receive as much individualized attention,” he said. “The small classes at Adelphi allowed me to actually talk to my professor about any issues I was having or about maintaining my academics while I was traveling on the road for games.”
At Adelphi, Kenyon balanced class and his studies while also having practices, conditioning workouts and games to play. “Some people start working after college without realizing the grind that it takes to maintain a good career. The experience I had as a student-athlete at Adelphi helped prepare me for that,” he said.
Most of all, he is thankful for the support system he had at Adelphi. “What I’ve seen is that a lot of kids, particularly at bigger schools, don’t realize the resources that are offered to them and how useful they are,” he said. “Adelphi did a great job helping me realize the resources I had available to me and how to use them—and that is so important.”