Nothing stops Kelly Dormandy — not even a global pandemic.
The Assistant Athletics Director of Sports Performance for LMU Athletics fills her days developing programs, filming training sessions and keeping in touch with her staff and athletes.
“Honestly, I'm busier now than I was then,” she laughed.
Dormandy’s days are filled with Zoom meetings with head coaches, the five teams she trains, the Mental Health Task Force and creating the layouts for Training Sessions of the Day (TSODs).
Amid all of the restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dormandy remains resilient for herself and her athletes. “For me, personally, I'm highly intrinsically motivated,” she said. “I hate missing a training session. My worst days are when I don't train and my best days are when I do train, so I try to get up first thing in the morning and knock my training sessions out early so that I can attack the rest of my day.”
Her new favorite way to train involves the makeshift squat rack composed of wood planks and Home Depot cement buckets in her backyard, a birthday gift from Dylan Lowenstein, a member of her training staff better known as “Coach D-Lowe."
Dormandy developed her passion for strength and conditioning at the age of 14 after injuring her knee while slide-tackling during a soccer game.
“My dad had challenged me to go to strength and conditioning summer camp,” she recalled. “At first, I thought he was joking and thought it was a miserable idea, but then he made a comment to the effect of, 'Well, I'd hate to see you not make the varsity soccer team your sophomore year of high school.' And that kind of fired me up, pissed me off a little bit, and I thought to myself, ‘Alright Dad, I'm going to prove you wrong.’ So I went, and it turned out that I loved it, so I went every summer throughout high school.”
Her experience playing Division I soccer at Maryland University and Quinnipiac University, followed by a career-ending neck injury, influenced her decision to receive her master's in exercise science at Springfield College. “I could no longer play, and I thought to myself, if I can no longer be an athlete, the next best thing would be to train an athlete,” she said.
After a few years of unpaid internships and graduate assistant experience, Dormandy moved to L.A. to work at USC for six years before transitioning to become the Assistant Athletics Director of Strength and Conditioning for the Lions a year and a half ago. She also serves as the seasonal head coach for strength and conditioning in the summer months for the L.A. Sparks of the WNBA.
With many years of her life devoted to training college athletes, Dormandy said she misses “being around my squad" and smiled. “I have three guys that work alongside me that are just awesome people, high energy. So I certainly miss seeing them and being around them. We spend a lot of time together — typically around 10-12 hours every single day, and then obviously not being able to be face-to-face with the kids, with the ability to mentor them, coach them, see how they're doing.”
Dormandy and her staff have not let distance take away from their training. Her team has utilized Instagram to post TSODs every single day of the week.
“We've just utilized bodyweight for the vast majority,” she said. “We also give them the ability to utilize household goods to increase intensity, whether it be a backpack, laundry detergent, canned goods, whatever it may be, to enable them to push the limit. The training sessions we've developed, bodyweight alone, are pretty taxing. They're pretty high in intensity, they're short in duration, but it jacks the heart rate up, gets them moving, and a lot of them have said that they've been pretty sore throughout.”
Men’s golf team member and Sports Performance Intern Matthew Carungay has been utilizing Dormandy’s Instagram workouts to stay motivated during this time of lockdown. “Every time we see a post from her, everybody looks at it, because everybody wants to see how Coach D is doing,” he said. “She brings energy, she brings life, she brings positivity to the department … Every time she pops onto a team meeting, everybody gets loud, everybody wants to talk to her.”
Not only are Dormandy and her staff creating the workouts, but they’re also making instructional videos and following along with the training program. “We can't very well ask them to do all these training sessions if we aren't taking the lead and inspiring them,” she said. “So we make sure that each one of us gets in front of the camera and videos each one of the TSODs for the explanations, we do them ourselves, we post videos of ourselves doing them so they can chime in or have a good laugh at us partaking in the training sessions.”
Looking forward to returning to the gym, Dormandy has been brainstorming a safe, gradual plan to prepare her athletes for the impact of competition. Her main priority is safety when it comes to training, so her plan is to use fitness assessments and trials to collect data on her athletes’ strength and endurance in order to proceed with a safe, yet challenging regimen. “I think the beauty of it all is: every school's in the same situation, so it's not like we're the only school that's at home doing bodyweight workouts while everybody else has free access to coaches, to weight rooms, to fields, and so forth, to do conditioning,” she said. “So we just have to be intelligent about how we progress, but we're already having discussions about what makes the most sense moving forward.”
Despite missing his team and training in person, Carungay feels confident in eventually returning to the gym. To him, it isn’t just “Coach D’s” physical training programs that make LMU Athletics great, but it’s also the mindset she instills in her athletes.
“Not making excuses, being on time, being professional, treating everybody with the same attitude, being respectful … She single-handedly changed the culture at LMU, and she just brought into LMU Athletics a winning attitude, a working attitude,” he said. “We're really lucky to have her.”