Preseason Team-Building

Sept. 19, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery isn’t one to bring outsiders into his program to work with his teams — he made an exception the first week of school when ex-Marines Eric Kapitulik and Tom Ripley traveled to Iowa City for “The Program.”

“‘The Program is a team-building and leadership development company that works with high school, college and professional student-athletes and teams,” said Kapitulik, who is the CEO and founder. “We believe in personal development, leadership development and team-building through shared adversity.”

McCaffery said “The Program” was recommended by his friend, and current Navy head coach, Ed DeChellis, who spoke highly about it after utilizing it during his stint at Penn State.

On the first day, the team had three exercises it completed as quickly as possible while doing them in sync. Exercises included a series of push-ups, mountain climbers, flutter kicks, jumping jacks and bridges. The players also performed a “fireman carry”, carried 50-pound sandbags and lifted a log in groups, all while communicating with each other and providing positive reinforcement.

“What this did was really set the bar high at the start of the season, and it sent a message that we want to be successful now. Everybody talks about building a program, where we’re going to be in three to five years… I want to be good this year.”
UI head coach Fran McCaffery

“This was a really good team building experience,” said junior Eric May. “There were a lot of exercises that taught us to rely on each other and work together to get through the workouts. From the beginning of the workout to the end, we are a different team, and I think that’s the goal. We learned valuable lessons.”

“We worked together as a team,” said sophomore Melsahn Basabe. “I’ve never done anything like this before. Basically it was staying disciplined, no excuses and everyone being accountable. This wasn’t an individual thing; it was about coming together as a team. We had to respect each other and really work together.”

Day two, also known as “Judgment Day”, required the players to work together when facing adversity in water. The Hawkeyes woke up at 5 a.m. and met at the pool in the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.

“Our final challenge required us jumping into the deep end of the pool with sweatshirts on,” said senior Andrew Brommer. “While in the water, we had to take our sweatshirt off, switch with a partner, keep it above our head and then put the other sweatshirt back on… all while treading water and doing it as fast as we could. It took a lot of communicating and coming together.”

Every exercise is tailored to help the team become better leaders in times of adversity.

“That’s the great thing about the pool in the last exercise,” said Kapitulik. “They have to come together when they are facing adversity, if they don’t they’re never getting out of the pool. What we like to see is when guys are doing it, not because the pool is making them, but because they are starting to figure out that that’s who they should be… I think we saw that.

“Now, the challenge of the men of Iowa basketball is to continue to so tomorrow, the next day, the next week and month after that.”

McCaffery said the most beneficial thing that came out of the program was the team camaraderie after the experience.

“What this did was really set the bar high at the start of the season, and it sent a message that we want to be successful now,” said McCaffery. “Everybody talks about building a program, where we’re going to be in three to five years… I want to be good this year.

“I wanted to set the tone right away for this team. It develops mental toughness, but more importantly, it really emphasizes how you care for one another, what a team is supposed to be and how you compete, how you lead and when you do it.”

To get a better look and understanding of the exercises the Hawkeyes completed, click HERE for photos from day one. Photos from day two, a.k.a. “Judgment Day”, can be viewed HERE.

For more information about “The Program,” visit