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Staff

Joe Connolly

Joe Connolly

Joe Connolly was named head strength & conditioning coach for the South Carolina football program on January 20, 2012. He originally joined the Carolina staff as an assistant in January 2009.

Connolly began his professional career at Harvard where he worked with former Gamecock head of football strength & conditioning Craig Fitzgerald for two years, assisting with all 41 sports at the Ivy League school. He then served as an assistant strength & conditioning coach at the University of Louisville, working with football only.

Connolly is a 2004 graduate of the University of Hartford, where he earned degrees in criminal justice and sociology. He was a four-year letterwinner in baseball. Connolly also owns a Master of Science in strength & conditioning from Bridgewater State College.

Connolly is a current competitor in Powerlifting, Strongman and Olympic Weightlifting. He holds certifications with USAW level 1 Club Coach, NSCA (CSCS), SCCC (CSCCa), and Power Pilates.

A native of Barnstable, Mass., Connolly was born June 14, 1982. His wife's name is Shalona and they have a dog, Zoe.

Dan Austin

Dan Austin

Dan Austin serves as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the South Carolina football team. Austin, who joined the University of South Carolina in 2003, also works with the Gamecock men's golf and men's soccer teams.

Prior to joining the South Carolina staff, Austin held the position of head strength coach at Austin Peay State University, Tennessee State University, UNLV, Mississippi State University, and Oklahoma State University. While at OSU, he was voted the Big 12 Conference's Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year in 2000.

A native of Greenville, S.C., Austin earned his bachelor's degree in health and physical education from Newberry College where he played both football and soccer. Austin obtained a master's degree in health, physical education and education administration from Austin Peay.

Austin is certified by United States American WeightLifting, the International Sports Sciences Association, and the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association. He also holds Level II Specialist in Sports Conditioning certification and the Master Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association, which is the highest certification a strength coach can achieve.

Austin is also a nine-time world power lifting champion and 14-time national power lifting champion.

He has one daughter, Briana.

Mike Sirignano

Mike Sirignano

Mike Sirignano serves as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the South Carolina football team. Sirignano, who joined the University of South Carolina in 2012, also works with the Gamecock Track and Field programs.

Prior to joining the South Carolina staff, Sirignano held the position of head strength coach at Elon University, and University of Rhode Island. He has also served as an assistant strength coach at Bryant University and Northeastern University.

Prior to his stint at Bryant, the Boston, Mass., native served as the Defensive Line Coach at Woonsocket High School during the 2006-07 seasons while owning and operating his own Strength and Conditioning sports training facility.

As a student-athlete at Bridgewater State College, he was the captain of the football team and earned two-time All-America, three-time All-New England and three-time ECAC All-Star honors. Sirignano earned his degree in Physical Education from Bridgewater State in 2007.

Sirignano currently holds USAW level 1 Club Coach, NSCA (CSCS), SCCC (CSCCa) certifications and resides in Columbia, S.C., with his girlfriend, Karolina, and bulldog, Tyson.

Aurmon Satchell

Aurmon Satchell

Aurmon Satchell returned to the University of South Carolina as an assistant strength and conditioning coach in 2012 after spending the 2011 season at Indiana University where he was also an assistant strength and conditioning coach. Satchell first joined the University of South Carolina football program in March 2009 as a strength and conditioning graduate assistant and was an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Gamecocks in 2010.

Before arriving at Carolina, Satchell spent the 2007 and 2008 campaigns as a volunteer strength and conditioning coach at the University of Minnesota.

A graduate of the University of Texas where he earned a degree in youth and community studies, Satchell was a three-year letter winner at linebacker and defensive end.

Satchell and his wife, Veronica, have one son, Sean (5), and one daughter, Jayln (10).

Jeff Merkt

Jeff Merkt was named a graduate assistant for the football strength and conditioning program in September 2012. Prior to being hired on as a graduate assistant he served as an intern for the program starting January 2012.

Merkt assists with the training of the football team along with the men's and women's track and field team. He also writes strength and conditioning programs for the university's U.S. Army R.O.T.C. program, F.B.I., law enforcement, as well as members of the U.S. Army Special Forces 7th Group and the U.S. Army 75th Ranger Regiment 1st battalion.

Merkt is a 2010 graduate of the University of South Carolina, where he earned his degree in sport and entertainment management. He was a three-year letter winner for the men's track and field program where he competed in the discus and the weight throw. He was a two-time qualifier for the NCAA Championship preliminary round in the discus and is number nine all time on the performance list for discus. He previously attended University of Cincinnati where he was a one-year letter winner in men's track and field competing in the throws.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Merkt currently holds a SCCC (CSCCa) certification and is pursuing nutrition and tactical strength and conditioning facilitator certifications. He is pursuing his master's degree in coaching education.

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