Chris Conrad, Steelers Offensive Lineman, 1988-1989
First, can you tell readers about your coaching career so far at CMU?
I coached at CMU for three years and this started my college coaching experience. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there with the staff and the student athletes. The experience I had there at the University showed me that I would like to stay coaching at the college level.
What do appreciate/enjoy most about coaching?
I really do like to see the kids succeed. When I started coaching my main goal was to give the student athletes the same chance I had, by teaching them how to play the position. Coaching is just another way I can still be a part of a sport I loved to play.
What coaches and coaching lessons do you find yourself falling back on as a coach?
I greatly admired my high school line coach Robb Perrance. He was someone I try to model myself after coaching today. He was a players coach, but was tough on me when I needed it. I was lucky to have some great coaches on all levels of my career and I have taken a little something from all of them to help me coach the right way.
You were a third round pick with Pittsburgh in ’98 – how did you deal with the pressure of being a high round pick and performing?
I really did not feel pressure right away once I was drafted. I worked very hard to get to that point, and I tried my best to perform every day. It was quite an experience in my life to be able to play on that level.
Who took you under their wing as a rookie and showed you the ropes both on and off the field?
Being a part of the offensive line there were plenty of individuals that showed me the ropes. Dawson, Sweeney, Stai, just to name a few showed me the way. They led by example on and off the field, and it was great that they showed me the correct path to take.
What was your biggest adjustment – and what coaches helped you most – and how?
The speed and power of the game were the biggest adjustments that I saw needed to be made. The game happens so much faster along with the always important mental aspect of the game.
My line coach Kent Stephenson helped me with a good part of it. I was learning a couple of new positions on the line and he helped me the best he could.
Who were some of the toughest guys you faced in practice and in games, and what made them so?
In practice to name a few I would have to say Gildon, Kirkland, Harrison, Roye, and the rest of the Steelers Defense. They prepared me to face just about anyone since they were the best in the business.
In games I was lucky enough to play against Derrick Thomas on a Monday night for a short period of time due to an injury. Being a rookie and going into that situation was an extreme high for me.
You left the team after 2000 – what happened and how difficult was it for you to leave?
I sustained a neck injury early in camp and it progressively got worse playing with the injury. It was something that hit me pretty hard, but my decision was pretty easy. When given the choice of walking and living a normal life or being severely injured I had to walk away.
It was a hard adjustment not being able to suit up and play, but it had to be done.
What are your best memories as a Steeler?
I have lots of good memories being a Steeler, it was a great part of my life. Being able to participate with many charity organizations and working with the kids of the boys & girls clubs. Stepping onto the field and playing at the professional level was an extreme moment that I will remember forever.
Any last thoughts for readers?
Strive to be the best in everything you do. If it is with sports, being a better Spouse, parent, coworker, etc. be a great role-model and set a good example.