- Associated Press - Monday, June 20, 2016

RUSTON, La. (AP) - The most respected former clients of Louisiana Tech’s strength and conditioning coach may be the ones he can’t reveal.

Kurt Hester’s resume features athletes he trained from every major American sports league, including Pro Bowl quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers.

But Hester also has worked with some of the American military’s best, notably four members of the elite Navy SEALs.

Two were former athletes Hester trained from when they were 13 or 14 years old, long before they came to him while preparing for the program’s rigorous physical screening test and training.

Two others remain part of SEAL Team 10, one of two teams available to be called into action at any time for the Navy’s primary special operations force.



“Every time they come back to Louisiana I get them to speak to the team or they actually work out with the team,” said Hester, who could only say the SEALs attended high school at St. Paul’s, Mandeville and Covington. “The players love it.”

Hester said they share their stories of brotherhood and teamwork, noting how they have each other’s backs to the death. Though the stakes aren’t as high on the football field, the Bulldogs can relate to those same principles when facing opponents on Saturdays.

Many of the same training methods apply as well, and Hester is a master at finding ways to motivate others.

Whether he’s working with star athletes on a football field or pushing future SEALs to swim through the wintry cold waters of the Gulf or Lake Pontchartrain, assistant strength coach Wes Bordelon said Hester makes others want to run through a brick wall for him.

“He was always able to relate with players,” said assistant coach Wes Bordelon. “If you can relate with players, then you can get them to do absolutely anything. What sets him apart is the guy is always doing research.”

Those efforts only increased when he stepped outside the familiar realm of sports, and Hester recalled reading anything about military or SEAL training he could find. Along with work in the weight room and on the track, Hester pushed the future SEALs to test their strength and endurance in a variety of environments.

Only 6 percent of applicants for the Navy SEALs pass the multiple mental tests as well as a physical screening test to qualify for training.

Of the estimated 1,000 who make it each year, only about 250 pass a difficult training program.

“With them, you never know what they’re going to do,” Hester said. “You never know what to expect. They’ll put them in a bunker for three hours.”

But all four of the men who trained with Hester made the cut, including one who did more than 4,000 pushups over four hours in a cement bunker with six inches of water - despite two fractured wrists.

During Hell Week, Hester said recruits must run two miles as fast as possible and then run even faster each time or get kicked out.

The former LSU strength coach and director of HS2 Athletic Performance in Mandeville built strong connections with the SEALs, just as he does with his football players.

Bordelon said it’s the team bond that brought Hester back to college athletics in 2013, and he’s always willing to do whatever it takes to help players find success.

“Our players see that and buy into it,” Bordelan said. “The type of mindset that Kurt has is you’re going to be some of the toughest individuals out there.”

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Information from: The News-Star, https://www.thenewsstar.com

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