Makin leads in the weight room and relationship-building on campus
Born and raised in Wollongong, Australia, a young Alex Makin aspired to be a professional soccer player or police officer. “As most kids do,” he says.
He came to the U.S. to attend college and play soccer in northwest Indiana. While studying to be a physical education teacher, Makin fell in love with strength conditioning, sports performance and coaching. His time as a soccer player led him to a new career.
“Among many teams, you have the students, the athletes that love the weight room… I was one of those athletes that really enjoyed that component and understanding why we were doing it. I was never really that super talented as a goalkeeper while playing soccer, but my work ethic and substantial benefit to what I did in the weight room and what I did strength-wise; I found that not only helped me improve in my abilities but allowed longevity in my career and feeling good about what I was doing and being able to play week-in, week-out particularly in a college season, that’s pretty tough on the body no matter what sport you’re playing.”
After graduating from Saint Joseph’s College, he took time to travel and explore Europe before heading home to Australia.
Makin worked as a personal trainer and as a strength coach for a few years before returning to the U.S. to seek out a team or a sports environment, like he always wanted. During that time, he earned certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA).
“Creating a position that allows me to not only train athletes in their sport but see that result as it looks on the field or as it translates to what they’re doing in their sport of choice. I had always wanted to do something like this but the opportunities back in Australia were few and far between. Obviously in the U.S., it’s a pretty heavily influenced industry and it made a lot more sense to come over here.”
Initially, Makin’s goal was to live in the area temporarily with his wife while they waited out his permanent resident paperwork so he could work. During this time is when he found himself at Hanover, thanks to a friendly connection with Coach John Jones.
“[Hanover] kind of grew on me and it kind of stuck a little bit more each year that I was here. And I think that’s one of the biggest things in the college setting is you develop relationships that you never really thought you would.”
After volunteering in the fall of 2017 with the women’s basketball and men’s soccer teams, Makin joined the Hanover staff in 2018 as the Head of Sports Performance. Through his role, Makin manages strength and conditioning routines for all 23 varsity sports, including sports he never worked with before. He has also transformed the weight room into a state-of-the-art facility for all Hanover students and employees to utilize.
The goal of sports performance is to help students get better at their sport, reduce injury and improve the overall performance of the team. Paired with the close-knit environment that Hanover boasts, Makin’s key mission for his work with athletes comes into play.
“I expect a lot of my athletes, but we have a good relationship based on respect and how they treat me, how they treat each other. It’s a big component in terms of being disciplined to get up for a 6 a.m. workout, being disciplined to come in, doing something that most of them may not want to do, but that dedicated to someone that’s going to make them better and influence their success in all other aspects of life. We’re doing things that are going to make us better and we’re doing things that are going to put us in uncomfortable situations for the better. My goal is to be very rigid with them and show them a consistent level of discipline, respect and un-comfortability [and] that I will always give them time, and I will always invest as much time as they’re going to invest in me. And it’s definitely a 100% back and forth relationship because when they come in, they know that I’m invested in them because of the time they take to come in and just swing through and say hi or just talk to me about their day or something like that, that they’re they come to me as an outlet, as a resource, not just their strength coach.”
Outside of work, you can find Makin enjoying life with his wife, Ariel, and their two-year-old son. He earned his Master’s of Science in human performance in 2020. He also invests time into his own health, by running and managing his nutrition. Makin says he looks forward to expanding his role and influence at Hanover College.
“I’ve got a lot of bold ideas on how elite we can make Hanover Sports Performance and the level of athlete that we can create, the level of person that we can create. And I think that’s, that’s slowly piecing together, little by little, and having more and more people understand where I’m coming from and what I want to do and how I want to do it. I think people just finally trusting the process; we’re going to see some big results in the coming years in terms of where we go athletically and where these students go academically.”
And above all, Makin asks that you stop by for a chat, anytime. His office is located in the weight room on the first floor of the Horner Center.