Levi Convirs, Sports Information Director
WICHITA – Starting next season, the Friends University Athletic Department will sport a fresh look with the addition of the new Powerlifting program, set to be guided by head coach Joe Belden. Belden will also be the Falcons’ strength and conditioning coach, a position that is certain to enhance many aspects of Friends Athletics. The Powerlifting program will be a Co-Ed sport, with both male and female student-athletes expected to make up the roster.
“We are excited to announce the start of a Powerlifting program and especially excited that Joe Belden will be leading it,” said Dr. Rob Ramseyer, Friends University Athletic Director. “Powerlifting is a popular and growing sport in our region, and we believe we are uniquely suited to develop a highly competitive program with our location. Further, Coach Belden will impact all of our student-athletes in serving as the Director of Strength and Conditioning to develop safe and high-quality training programs.”
Belden is certainly no stranger to the Wichita area, having served as the strength and conditioning coach at Wichita North High School for the past 17 years. along with the position of head men’s tennis coach for one season. He was also a Kettlebell Consultant for the University of Kansas Strength and Conditioning program in the spring of 2018.
A native of Wichita, Belden brings a wide range of athletic experience to Friends, including two stints as the Head Football Coach at Wichita North from 2002-05 and 2013-16. At Wichita North, Belden helped orchestrate one of the biggest turnarounds in city league history, improving to 8-3 in 2003 following a 1-8 mark in the 2002 season. Overall, Beldon has amassed 30 years of coaching experience over eight different sports.
Belden also brings a familiarity to Friends University, with a one-year stop as the assistant football coach and strength coach in the 1993-94 season.
“This is definitely a great and unique opportunity,” Belden said. “What makes this situation so exciting is, not only are we launching a powerlifting program that will compete nationally with the 48 other programs across the country, but this position has the ability to impact the performance of over 400 student athletes.”
Belden’s versatile career has also included stops at Bishop Carroll High School (1991-93) as the assistant football coach and strength coach and at Wichita East High School (1988-91), where he was the assistant coach for football, wrestling, softball and the assistant coach at the Kansas Elk Bowl.
He has also taught weight training and conditioning at Wichita North since 2002 and is a certified International Kettlebell Federation and Maxbells, Kettlebell and Body Weight instructor.
Belden has achieved multiple strength and conditioning certifications, including Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA weightlifting certification (USAW), World Kettlebell Federation (WKC), Maxbells, and a Body Weight/Joint Mobility certification from Steve Maxwell.
He has also trained numerous college and professional athletes, law enforcement officers and a current Navy Seal, while also developing, organizing and implementing speed development and hybrid training programs for The Adams Course and Belden Performance.
“We will implement the Westside Barbell Conjugate Method in training our powerlifters,” Belden said. “Their training methods have proven to be the best in the world. We will also incorporate traditional training with alternative training – simplicity meets variety; training our athletes optimally. We want to create a stronger, faster, explosive and more mobile athlete, with the key piece to the puzzle being injury prevention.”
Tom Barry, the general manager of Westside Barbell in Columbus, Ohio, has worked with Belden for the last few years and says “Joe is one of the most dedicated and driven people I have personally dealt with in my coaching career. He will make a tremendous impact on the lives of the athletes utilizing your resources.”
Westside Barbell is an invitation-only training laboratory and Louie Simmons, Westside’s founder and owner, has developed heavyweight world champions. The gym has broken more than 140 world records, won Olympic gold and popularized a system of training named after the Westside Barbell gym, sometimes referred to as the Conjugate Method.
Belden completed his Bachelor of Science in Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Southwestern College in 1987.
Below are a couple of current Friends University head coaches talking about the expected benefits of having a full-time strength and conditioning coach on campus:
Friends University Football head coach Dion Meneley:
“The addition of a full-time strength and conditioning coach for our athletic department is going to be extremely beneficial for all of our teams. The ability to collaborate with a trained professional regarding the goals of each player, unit and team will allow meaningful improvements to be made in a very efficient manner. Having a full-time coach dedicated to the daily improvement of our athletes is an asset that will pay dividends very quickly.”
Friends University Volleyball head coach Martin Ayin:
“Having a strength and conditioning coach on staff allows our athletes to get to the next level through conditioning and weight training. We have amazing athletes in our athletic department, and I am excited to see them getting the attention they need to excel. I look forward to working with our new strength coach to come up with a plan for our programs to achieve and reach new heights in the KCAC and NAIA.”
Friends University Women’s Soccer head coach Brent Hobson:
“This position will benefit the whole athletic department in so many ways. He will definitely be a quality asset to each program throughout the year. I also think creating a powerlifting team will be a great opportunity for a lot of athletes across the nation to come in and compete but also get a quality education here at Friends University.”
Any student-athletes interested in Powerlifting at Friends University should contact Coach Belden at Joseph_Belden@friends.edu.