Felipe Eichenberger, Health and Sports Science
By Megan Maharry
Felipe Eichenberger grew up in Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil. He enjoyed playing other sports while growing up, but soon developed a passion for basketball.
His love and talent for the game eventually led him to be recruited by coaches Bob Battisti and Andrew Brown to play college basketball. He played all four years he attended Northwestern. He chose to play at Northwestern because of the coaches and his like of Alva.
At first, Eichenberger was unsure of what career he wanted to pursue. He said it all started with something Coach Battisti had his players do. Eichenberger said every year Coach Battisti had them write down their goals—season, short-term and long-term—on a piece of paper and keep it in their locker.
“My freshman year I didn’t really know,” Eichenberger said. “I wrote down some random goals, not really knowing what I wanted.”
It wasn’t until his second year that Eichenberger fell in love with strength conditioning. He then had a goal he was sure of to write on the paper Coach Battisti gave him.
“My goal then for year two was to be a strength and conditioning coach for a basketball team in the NBA,” Eichenberger said.
His dream to be a strength and conditioning coach at the highest level of basketball never faltered. Upon graduating from Northwestern in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in health and sports science, he began the journey of achieving his dream.
He traveled to Las Vegas, Nev., to work in an internship. It was there he came into contact with people associated with the Denver Nuggets, and then he eventually moved to Denver. He began reaching out to the former head strength and conditioning coach, Steve Hess, trying to find an opportunity with the Nuggets.
“I called him three months in a row, two times a day,” Eichenberger said. “It was like I was the annoying guy.”
His persistence opened the door for him.
Hess contacted Eichenberger and asked him to work at the gym he owned in downtown Denver. Eichenberger worked there as a performance trainer until another opportunity presented itself.
During the NBA lockout period, Hess was unable to train the players for the Nuggets because of rules set by the NBA. Eichenberger received the opportunity to train some of the players from the Nuggets during this time.
Eichenberger’s training of the players was a success, as both Hess and the Nuggets’ players liked him.
Eichenberger then finally reached his ultimate goal of being the strength and conditioning coach for the Denver Nuggets. He spent eight years as the assistant strength and conditioning coach and is now in his third year as head strength and conditioning coach.
As a strength and conditioning coach, he is responsible creating workouts that keep the players in good shape and condition. He said he puts together a variety of different workouts for his players.
“My main thing is keep it basic, work hard and make it fun,” Eichenberger said. “I try to keep it interesting, intense and simple.”
His love for his job comes easily. He said it is important to him that whatever he does as work, he did not want it to feel like a job, but rather something he loves doing.
“I come to work every single day happy, looking forward to seeing the guys, and I love basketball,” Eichenberger said. “This is not a job to me. It’s a passion.”
He said one of the hardest parts of his job is traveling so much while having his family at home in Denver. He said it gets tough at times as during the season he is with the team more than he is with his family.
His family includes his girlfriend Carly and their three children Gia, August and Maxwell, who are four years, two years and three weeks old, respectively.
Eichenberger gives much credit of his success to Northwestern. He said he met great people, instructors and coaches. He admitted he did not speak superior English when he came to Northwestern, but his professors and coaches helped him both with English and keeping up with his classes.
Eichenberger shared that his favorite memory of Northwestern was the year he and his team made the Elite Eight in the NAIA tournament in Kansas City in 2007.
“Northwestern was just special,” Eichenberger said. “I think every single moment at Northwestern has something special to me.”