Veteran strength coach Jim Zielinski is beginning his 13th season as the Director of Strength and Conditioning for the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, marking over 20 years of experience with Division I football and Olympic sport programs. In the summer of 2002, Zielinski was named a master strength coach, the highest accolade received in his field. Zielinski is responsible to oversee all aspects of the department's 19 sports strength and conditioning programs, including the Illinois wrestling program, which finished the 2012 season in the top 10 in the country.
During the 1999-2003 seasons, Zielinski was the main force behind the strengthening of the Illinois football team. The offensive line was one of the strongest and quickest in school history, allowing an offense to produce over 5,000 yards in both 2001 and 2003, the only two occasions in school history. The defensive squad was the fastest in the Ron Turner era and broke records for sacks in a season and lead the nation with 18 players with sacks in 2001. The defensive secondary had 18 interceptions and broke up an amazing 104 passes during that same season.
Zielinski, a native of Rockford, Ill., graduated from Northern Illinois in 1986 where he was a defensive tackle under Coach Bill Mallory. He helped lead his squad to a win in the California Bowl in 1983. He earned a bachelor of science in business management.
A 24-year veteran of the business, Zielinski joined the Illinois staff after stints at Oregon State (1995-99), Northern Illinois (1988-95) and Nebraska (1988). During his time at OSU, he was responsible for the program design, speed and strength development and all test and evaluation for the football program as well as the other 14 Division I sports.
From 1988-1995, Zielinski was the head strength and conditioning coordinator for the Northern Illinois Huskies 16-sport program. During his six and a half years at NIU, Zielinski implemented the program design and monitored the athlete's daily progress. Zielinski began his career as an assistant strength coach at the University of Nebraska in 1988. He is certified as a strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength and the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association.
Zielinski and his wife Teresa, who is also an Illinois native, have five children, James, Alexandra, Zachary, Christopher and Patrick.
The Zielinski File
Updated March 2012
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