As an athletic development coordinator for U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Josh Bullock ’03, ’11 has many responsibilities. Over the last five years, his role has evolved to include many aspects—coach, applied sports scientist, rehabilitation specialist, partnership facilitator, and more. However, each facet comes with the same charge: to develop, improve, and protect the performance of elite athletes.
Based in Park City, Utah, U.S. Ski & Snowboard is the Olympic National Governing Body of ski and snowboard sports in the United States. As of 2021, the organization represents nearly 200 elite skiers and snowboarders competing in seven teams; alpine, cross country, freeski, freestyle, snowboard, and Nordic combined and ski jumping.
In addition to the elite teams, U.S. Ski & Snowboard also provides leadership and direction for thousands of young skiers and snowboarders across the country and empowers national teams, clubs, coaches, parents, officials, volunteers, and fans who are committed to the progression of its sports.
In his role, Bullock directs all facets of athletic development and performance for the U.S. Freestyle Mogul team. On February 6, Jaelin Kauf, one of his athletes, won a silver medal during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics—the country’s first Olympic medal in women’s mogul skiing since 2014.
Bullock says his time as a student-athlete and, later, an employee at the University of Redlands laid the foundation for a successful career in athletics.
A game-changing opportunity
As a liberal studies major and a defensive back on the Redlands football team, Bullock set his sights on becoming a physical education teacher. But when Director of Athletics Jeff Martinez hired Scott Fricke ’04 as the University’s first head strength and conditioning coach in 2002, Bullock was introduced to an entirely new career path.
“From that point on, I knew I didn’t want to be a P.E. teacher anymore,” he recalled. “[With strength and conditioning] I knew that I could be involved in a lot of sports—I was a three-sport athlete in high school and had a love for sports in general. Sport performance training allowed me to capture all of that and it changed my trajectory.”
With Fricke’s guidance, Bullock improved his own athletic performance and learned what it took to manage a fitness center and work with student-athletes. When Fricke decided to leave the University in 2006, he called Bullock and recommended he to apply for the job.
“Jeff [Martinez] and the search committee trusted a guy who had never been a head strength and conditioning coach before to take over the program. Once you have a position like that on your resume, it’s a game-changer,” Bullock said.
As the head strength and conditioning coach at Redlands, Bullock managed the fitness center, which included planning and organizing events, overseeing the budget, maintaining the building and its equipment, leading personnel decisions, drafting and implementing policies and procedures, and more. He also led a project to redesign and rebuild the Boneyard—an outdoor training facility utilized by Bulldog student-athletes—brokered a sponsorship deal with Muscle Milk, and worked with coaches to recruit and retain student-athletes. At the same time, Bullock began to develop his skills in research and instruction by contributing to strength and conditioning publications, giving presentations at conferences, and teaching a First-Year Seminar on athletic performance to incoming students.
“Josh is a Bulldog,” Martinez said. “I knew that Redlands meant a lot to him. While he might have been a little short on experience, he wasn’t short on dedication and desire. The attributes that made him successful here have made him successful elsewhere.”
Following his five years working at Redlands, Bullock was hired by three subsequent schools to develop, implement, and direct strength and conditioning programs. One was the Killington Mountain School in Killington, Vermont—a winter term ski academy that gave him a granular look at the mechanics of skiing and winter athletic performance.
An innovative partnership
Bullock continues to blaze his own trail at U.S. Ski & Snowboard and most recently facilitated an innovative partnership with Intermountain Healthcare TOSH—The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital. The collaboration takes advantage of TOSH’s sports science lab to test athletes’ movements to gather data that will help them recover from an injury and enhance their training plan to achieve a competitive advantage.
Bullock says that the partnership is mutually beneficial to both organizations because of its interdisciplinary nature. Intermountain boasts sophisticated testing equipment and the work of an exemplary biomechanist, Bill McDermott, PhD. With the insight from the lab and McDermott's collaboration, Bullock is discovering new ways to approach, build, and implement different aspects of physical preparation while coaching top-tier athletes at U.S. Ski & Snowboard.
According to a recent Intermountain news release, the lab uses high-speed 3D motion capture sensors that are attached to an athlete’s body and the floor to analyze their movement. While they navigate a series of exercises, the highly sensitive cameras track how their bodies move and see deficiencies that the human eye can’t.
First-time Olympian and Killington Mountain School alumna Hannah Soar benefitted from the partnership after suffering an ankle injury four years ago. The sports science team determined that she was favoring one ankle over the other and adapted her training plan to optimize her movements to prepare her to ski moguls at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Bullock learned to manage contracts and form partnerships at Redlands, both as a coach and a student in the School of Business & Society’s Master of Art in Management program. He views his time at the University as a “jumping point for everything.”
“When I was at Redlands, there was an idea that nothing is keeping you from being successful,” he says. “It was the only option. I developed the ability to grow and persevere, and that’s what being a Bulldog means to me.”
Learn more about Bulldog Athletics.