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The Steve Zabel Story


Steve Zabel has been involved in competitive sports for more than forty years and knows what it takes to train athletes to win at every level because he has been an integral part of some of the best programs in the nation as a player and a coach. 

As a seven year-old child in Denver, Colorado, Steve Zabel could never have imagined the football career that lie before him. The “Hawks” were a Young America League football team that introduced Zabel to the decorated career of his dreams.   While attending high school in Thornton, Colorado where he was a multi-sport standout in football, basketball, and track and field, he won state titles in both the high jump and pentathlon.  Zabel then attended the New Mexico Military Institute to play football and was then recruited and signed by the University of Oklahoma.  Two Big 8 Championships later, the All Big 8 and All-American tight end was the sixth player selected in the 1970 NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.  He retired from the NFL after playing for three teams for 10 years.  Throughout his NFL career as a linebacker, he was respected by his peers for his mental toughness and “smash-mouth” playing style.  As Zabel reflected back upon his football career, he recalled the drills that coaches inflicted upon him as player. At OU, stick wrestling was a common activity that Zabel can only describe as “brutal”. In the NFL, a similar drill was common, only utilizing a towel.  These activities in and of themselves were not the challenge, instead it was the competitive spirit that was pulled from the players, but they were dangerous for the participants.

So after spending 20 years pursuing various business ventures, he decided to return to the game he loves, and began his new career in football as the offensive coordinator for the Curry College Colonels in Milton, Massachusetts.  During his four years with the Colonels, the team collected an impressive record of 36-4, including two consecutive NEFC Championships.  The concept for the TUG was developed during Zabel’s tenure with Curry College, at first using old tires in a tug of war drill.   As the offense and defense competed against each other, he was able to see the energy, excitement, competition and strength conditioning that was produced from this single activity. As he observed the benefits that this drill provided, he began to imagine a coaching tool that could provide weight and foster competitiveness while also being a safer activity for ambitious athletes. The TUG, or “TUGGER”, was born to provide an outlet for safer, competitive training for football teams.

His experience with “old school” methods of training along with his aggressive approach to the sport led Steve to develop The Tug, an apparatus that coaches say not only strengthens and conditions their athletes, it’s the best tool they have for creating competition and building team spirit. Knowing that tough teams win games, Steve created a unique one-of-a-kind patented device that demands that participants never give up and aptly coined the phrase “You Can’t Hide From The Tug!”® to describe its inherent characteristic of competing with all your might.
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