HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — If you ask an athlete what their least favorite part about sports is, they’ll almost all tell you conditioning.
At Central Dauphin, its conditioning coach is one of the pillars of the successful Rams football program.
Denny Duttenhoffer is a 77-year-old strength and speed coach who has helped the Rams for over 20 years. He comes from the lineage of a legendary coach in George Chaump, who he played for in the 1960s.
He knows the keys to success, and he knows the answer to building up his Central Dauphin players is simple.
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“You gotta be strong first,” Duttenhoffer said. “Then you can come to me.”
His secret only requires two legs and a lot of heart. He has his players run hills every week.
“I can really pour it on,” Duttenhoffer said.
From sprints to side planks, to scaling backward on all fours, Duttenhoffer has mastered a program equally taxing on the mind and the body; it has boosted the team’s speed as much as it has chemistry.
Most importantly, it teaches life lessons to young men.
“You don’t come in late, you don’t do things like that,” Duttenhoffer explained. “You don’t talk when the coach is talking. They learn discipline and they take that with them the rest of their life.”
Recently, it helped take a one-time Ram to the National Football League.
Before Micah Parsons was garnering praise from every professional football outlet, he was running hills for Duttenhoffer. He even gave his former coach a shoutout after a practice in late September, when he was asked where his exceptional speed came from.
“It was [from] Denny Dutt,” Parsons told the media. “[That’s] the hill king right there.”
Parsons’ praise traveled from Texas to Central Pennsylvania before Duttenhoffer deflected it back down south.
“He was strong, he was big, he was better than everybody else [in high school],” Duttenhoffer said. “And he’s passing it off to me. No, it was him.”
Parsons is far from the only athlete impacted by the agonizing onslaught of uphill exercises. Every Ram thanks ‘Denny Dutt.’
The gratitude shown by countless players is what keeps Duttenhoffer at the top of the hill into his late 70’s.
“They keep you young,” Duttenhoffer said. “You work hard with them [and] they work hard with you. You give them 100 percent [and] they give you 100 percent.”
The Rams look poised for another postseason run, but Duttenhoffer plans to stay well past the final whistle.
“They shake my hand all the time and thank me, and they come back years later and do the same thing,” Duttenhoffer said. “It motivates you to the point you never want to stop.”
Duttenhoffer has no idea when he will stop. The hills surrounding Central Dauphin high school may have to stop him.
“I don’t care if I’m 87,” he said. “[They] gotta carry me out of here.”