After a great run with the Gators, Matt Herring is hoping to make an impact with the San Antonio Spurs.
Before joining the Spurs, Herring has two national championships on his resumé and memories of a lifetime during his time as Florida’s strength-and-conditioning coordinator.
Now, he is leaving Gainesville to return to San Antonio, where he has been named Director of Athletic Performance for the Spurs.
Herring is also returning home. The Texas native and his wife’s family live in Texas.
Herring told Gatorzone, the decision to leave Florida was a difficult one considering the relationships he built there. (Hat tip to Spurs Nation)
“I really hadn’t thought about it until San Antonio came calling,’’ Herring said. “The main reason why we even considered it is one, it’s a great organization and we certainly follow them, and then the draw to get closer to family and see my little girl get a chance to get closer to her grandparents and foster those relationships.
“It was just a tremendous opportunity for us on a personal level. The University of Florida is a fantastic place to be and coach Billy Donovan and the administration certainly tried to encourage me to stay here, but at the end of the day, they can’t move Gainesville to Texas, and that was the biggest draw.’’
“I’m very happy for Matt and his family,” Donovan said. “This is an opportunity with a great organization and a chance to be closer to his family. Matt has contributed a large part to our success here, and we appreciate what he’s invested in our program and our players over the last seven years.”
Herring starts his new job on September 1 and joins an organization that has already won four NBA championships, more than any franchise other than the Celtics, Lakers and the Bulls.
With the lockout creating uncertainty over the start of the 2011-12 NBA season, Herring is focused on building relationships with San Antonio’s current staff, led by head coach Gregg Popovich, and creating a strength-and-conditioning program for the veteran Spurs once they return.
“It’s going to make it a little difficult to develop the relationships I should with these players,’’ Herring said of the unique transition. “We can’t talk to them.’’
Still, Herring is comfortable knowing that the Spurs have developed a similar culture around athletic training that he experienced at Florida. The coaching staff creates a plan with the trainers and the players, including star Tim Duncan, have bought in over the years to fuel much of the team’s success.
“I’ve never had to worry about trying to get guys to buy in. It’s just been an underlying culture that’s been built here across the board in all teams and all sports,’’ Herring said. “Our athletes seek us out; we don’t have to go and hunt them down. Talking with the Spurs, they also have that culture.’’
Herring pointed out that the last time the NBA faced a lockout in 1999, the Spurs returned and won their first NBA title that season led by Duncan, named Finals MVP.
Herring said he is excited about the opportunity to work with one of the NBA’s all-time greats.
“You have an impact on their lives – their livelihood and their career,’’ he said. “You can have a positive impact on a guy like Tim Duncan and helping him get three, four, five more years out of his career and end on his terms.’’
It seems like the Spurs picked another gem and found the right guy to fill the void left by long-time Spurs strength and conditioning coach Mike Brungardt.