More Than A Strength Coach
North Texas' New Coach Goes Beyond The Weight Room Numbers
DENTON – When Rick Lefebvre earned his masters of science degree from Louisiana State University in May, there was a deeper purpose behind his mission than just for the personal gains the degree would provide.
The father of two and Tigers’ men’s basketball strength and conditioning coach sought his degree to inspire and show that if you put your mind to something you can accomplish it.
Now on the Mean Green women’s basketball staff, Lefebvre is preparing for his 13th season as a college coach and the experiences he’s had and the people he’s met along the way built a passion for helping young adults achieve more than just their athletic goals.
“It’s not about the numbers,” Lefebvre said referring to the amount of weight his student-athletes can lift or how fast they can run. “I’m in it to help them get where they want to go. Help them both on the court and, through that, help them in the classroom and in life.”
Hired in August to be the women’s basketball team’s first-ever full-time strength and conditioning coach, Lefebvre’s is making his second stint at North Texas.
Before his time at LSU, Lefebvre was at North Texas from 2006 to 2011 as an assistant strength and conditioning coach with a variety of Mean Green teams. During that time he worked with North Texas Athletic Hall of Fame student-athletes such as Johnny Quinn, Josh White and Kendall Juett.
Lefebvre recalled Quinn always pushing his limits of expectations in workouts and never settling.
“Seeing the transformation and the hard work they do inspires me,” Lefebvre said. “I’ve been so fortunate to be around people who have taught me so much.”
Possibly the largest transformation Lefebvre was a part of was Tobe Nwigwe.
A 2010 graduate from UNT, Nwigwe was an all-conference linebacker at North Texas. But before Lefebvre helped him become one of the best defensive players in the country, Nwigwe was a self-described “loser.”
Nwigwe remembers being an underclassman and the then new assistant strength coach following him around the weight room to make sure he completed his workouts. He and his teammates even had a nickname for Lefebvre, “Flava Flave”, so to warn one another when he was coming around.
“We thought he was so annoying,” Nwigwe said, laughing. “He’d stalk us around the weight room. But he stuck with us.”
With each workout Nwigwe slowly got better on and off the field and saw the value in being a team player and how hard work was translating into success in anything he wanted to do.
Today, Nwigwe inspires communities all across the country by making what he calls “purpose popular.” Well known on different social media platforms, Nwigwe is a musician, artist, motivational speaker and an influential image.
“He was and still is a key player in getting me to where I am today and the person I want to be,” Nwigwe said. “He stuck with us and showed me that there are no shortcuts and the value of detail. I grew out of my immaturity because of him.”
Like all the student-athletes he works with, Lefebvre didn’t care what Nwigwe did but how he did it. To him and many other of his student-athletes it’s an integrity check.
Lefebvre and Nwigwe remain close. They call one another every few weeks and refer to each other as family.
“He is so much more than a strength and conditioning coach,” Nwigwe said. “The women on the basketball team will see they’re going to be a new beast when they graduate. They’re going to be more prepared for life than they probably can imagine with his help.”