Pete Thistle is a veteran of the trenches. No, not the trenches of wars past. I’m talking about the trenches most sports fans associate with a football field: the offensive and defensive line. Linemen are the unsung heroes of football. Thistle is no stranger to that. He played Division 1 football at the University of Delaware for four years. Prior to that, he was a member of the WPIAL and PIAA championship teams at North Allegheny High School. Thistle has brought his football experience to Daman’s Strength Training in Beaver where he is spearheading the new “Trench Academy” program in conjunction with DST owner, Rick Daman, and Gamespeed guru, Shawn Moody. The Trench Academy is set to launch in mid-April. I did a Q & A with Pete to give prospective athletes a better idea of what they can expect at the Trench Academy. If you’re interested in participating, complete the form at the bottom of the page and Coach Daman will be in contact with you.

1. Tell us about yourself and why you are coaching the Trench Academy at DST.

Well, for starters, most people call me “Pete.”  I most recently graduated from the University of Delaware in December 2016 with a bachelor’s in exercise science.  I am in my first year of graduate school, studying in the Greater Pittsburgh area for a Masters of Occupational Therapy. I am also a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. During college, I had the opportunity to play Division 1 football for the Fightin’ Blue Hens at UD for four years, namely at the center position.  I originally was a walk-on, but quickly worked my way up the depth chart, thanks in large part to my off-season training at Daman’s and Gamespeed.  Before that, I was a two-year, two-way starter for the WPIAL and PIAA champion North Allegheny Tigers!  Needless to say, I’ve been pretty blessed with the opportunities I’ve been afforded and feel very strongly about giving back to the people at Daman’s Strength Training.  It just seems like the logical next step.


2. Who are you targeting for this program?

Linemen!  War hogs.  Guys on the front line of the field that get the majority of the work done and very little of the credit.  We are looking for high school all the way through college level linemen.  Our goal is to prime high school and collegiate level linemen for the upcoming season. We strive to do this by utilizing safe and effective methods that train the movements necessary to play the position. Although we incorporate drills and position work into the Academy, this is not a skills camp! Instead, we focus on preparing the athletes’ physical skills and abilities to best translate to the field on day one of camp, so that they are in the best position to succeed and be healthy during the season!

3. Why should an athlete attend the Trench Academy?

If you look at the game of football now, compared to maybe even 20 years ago, everything is faster and more spread out.  As a consequence, linemen need to not only be able to move people but move themselves: pull around a tight end, change direction in open space, get to the second level to block a linebacker or safety, etc.  Trench Academy will prepare you as a well-rounded lineman who can control his own body first and then control his opponent.


4. What will someone get out of this?

A wealth of experience and coaching from our staff, paired with a very fresh perspective and expertise from someone who is less than one year removed from the game of football.  Everything we do will be in order to make the athlete a more flexible, stronger, faster, and more confident lineman.

5. What kind of exercises will they be performing?

Med ball work, tire flips, balance and stabilization exercises, skill specific drills and instruction, agility ladders, cone drills, mobilities, core exercises, competitions, flexibility stuff…we’re going cram as much as we can into the hour or so.  We’ll have a lot of fun.


6. How many times per week will athletes train?

The athletes will train one time per week. The session will take place every Saturday and last for 75 minutes.

7. How long does it last?

Our Trench Academy begins Saturday, June 9th and concludes Saturday, July 28th, just before varsity football camps begin. 


8. Is there flexibility in attending?

Due to the specific nature of this program, we are only offering sessions on Saturdays at 11 am. If we run into an extreme situation with an athlete’s schedule, we will accommodate to the best of our ability.

9. What is the cost of the program?

$197 for the entire program.  It’s an investment, one that I made in my five or six years of coming here to train.  Keep in mind, I live in Wexford, so that’s a 45 minute drive both ways multiplied by the four or five times I came up a week.  Worth it.  Totally worth it.  There’s not a better gym in the Pittsburgh area.  Believe me, I looked.


Frequently Asked Questions:

What if the athlete misses training days due to illness/vacation etc.?

You can schedule make up days with our coaches for any available times during the program.

Does the athlete need to have a certain level of skill/athleticism?

No! Every athlete is in a constant state of development throughout their playing time. This program is for the beginner AND advanced athlete.

Do you have to train the same days/times each week?

Yes, this academy is being conducted every Saturday morning at 11 am.

International Institute of Sport and Movement

Are you interested in MsE? Just fill out your contact information and one of the coaches will call you soon!
Marc is a lifelong resident of Beaver County. A 2001 graduate of Center High School and 2005 graduate of Point Park University, Marc is employed by the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and officiates high school and college football. Follow Marc on Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram @marcgrando