NC State builds through 'The Program'

North Carolina State recently received a bit more strenuous of a spring workout than normal recently.

To improve team-building and test mental endurance, Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien enlisted the help of The Program, a leadership training regimen led by CEO and founder Eric Kapitulik.

Wolfpack players were put through calisthenics and carried various objects the night of April 23, all with the intent of performing as one. Other challenges awaited at 4 a.m. the next day in the pool, including an exercise in which players jumped in the deep end together and switched sweatshirts with each other while on command.

The players would perform the exercises again and again to improve their collective time.

O'Brien first used The Program two years ago, before a 9-4 campaign for NC State. Kapitulik, like O'Brien, graduated from the Naval Academy, and the coach gave The Program plenty of credit for the success of the 2010 season before inviting Kapitulik back this spring.

"I think it worked very well for us two years ago, so we brought him back and did it Monday night," O'Brien said. "We were on the field at 8 o'clock Monday night. Got off the field a little after 11:30, and were in the pool 4:30 the next morning. He brings basically himself, who is special operations, two other fellow Marine officers, a captain and a major that were special operations, a former NFL player, and they run the team through various drills and various team building exercises. I think it's a great experience for the team. I think they really enjoy it, especially once it's over."

A lacrosse player for Navy, Kapitulik was in a helicopter crash during a routine training regimen in 1999. Seven Marines were killed, and Kapitulik started a scholarship fund in honor of the fallen Marines.

He has continued living an intense life, climbing Mount Everest and four others and participating in marathons and a triathlon.

"I think that the biggest thing our players take from this is for each man to realize that the guy on his left and the guy on his right is more important than he is," O'Brien said. "To realize that to be successful as individuals, they have to help their teammates be successful."

When the test was over in Raleigh, Kapitulik awarded a silver shirt with The Program's logo on it -- the Spartan shield with the Greek letter lambda inside -- to redshirt senior safety Earl Wolff, the individual who represented being a great teammate the most.

"We have a lot of individuals on our team, but everything we did [during The Program] was together," Wolff said. "If everybody did it right and one person did it wrong, everybody had to do it all over. I think by the time it was over, everybody knew that it's not about them, it's about the team."