Profile of Todor Pandov, UM strength coach

It was the season opener for Western Kentucky University and, facing the nation’s top seeded Arizona Wildcats eight years ago, the Hilltoppers encountered an arena packed with cheering Arizona fans in a game broadcast nationally. With his team trailing, Todor Pandov kicked into high gear, scoring 12 points and snaring five rebounds in just 23 minutes. But in an instant, his flame was extinguished.

“I got the ball at the top of the key and drove left, then stopped under the basket to get ready to finish. I came to a jump stop and my knee buckled under, went in and kept going in,” Pandov said. “All of a sudden the thing I loved the most was taken away.”

That quick movement ended his basketball career but helped launch Pandov into a new career as strength and conditioning coach for the University of Miami’s men’s squad, where he aims to help other athletes avoid such injuries.

At UM, Pandov oversees the day-to-day physical and mental improvements of the players. Instead of working with one large group, he breaks the players into three smaller groups, allowing one-on-one attention.

In the weight room, Pandov constantly moves around, stopping at each player. He assists with weights, corrects their form so that they do not injure themselves, and provides words of encouragement.

Knowing each player allows Pandov to be creative with his workouts. Two freshmen joined the team this season as complete opposites. Erik Swoope started the summer weighing almost 250 pounds and needed to lose weight. With Pandov’s help, he’s down to 230 pounds.

On the flip side, Rion Brown weighed 177 pounds and needed to bulk up. After long workouts in the weight room this summer, he hit 195 pounds by fall.

“In the big picture, when it’s all said and done, we are all trying to accomplish the same thing. Working towards getting bigger, better, stronger,” Pandov said.

For Pandov, the journey to the weight room began, in many ways, in that November matchup against Arizona. He was immediately taken to the locker room, and a subsequent MRI revealed he tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus, and also chipped a bone.

The sudden injury, his first, ended a season of high expectations for the 6-foot-9 forward from Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Entering his junior year, he averaged 22 points in the first two exhibition games.

“He would have been our leading scorer,” former Western Kentucky coach Dennis Felton said in an interview with ESPN in 2003. “He was our most versatile player.”

After college Pandov played a season overseas with the Holland Eiffel Towers and expanded his knowledge of the game. In Europe, he learned more about the fundamentals of basketball. After his injury, Pandov wasn’t able to play at the same level and thought it was time to start a new chapter in his life.

When his season in Europe ended, he joined the University of Texas as a volunteer for the 2005-2006 season, when the team logged 30 wins and advanced to the Elite Eight and came within an overtime of the Final Four.

At Texas, Pandov worked closely with Todd Wright, generally viewed among the top strength and conditioning coaches in the country. Wright said Pandov’s collegiate experience helped in his new role.

“As a player on the collegiate level, Todor understands how [the players]feel,” Wright said. “He’s understanding of the sport.”

Two years later, Pandov moved to Miami and worked as a Graduate Manager for UM, helping assistant coaches with whatever they needed.

The following season, in 2008, Pandov picked up the broken pieces he left as a player at Western Kentucky and became the university’s new strength and conditioning coach. But he remained close to UM Coach Frank Haith, and after two years with his alma mater, returned to UM after Haith sought him out.

“I have a great relationship with coach. Since I was a graduate assistant, we stayed connected and when this position opened up, he hired me. He tells me what he wants the guys to do and I tell him how they’re doing,” he said. Pandov and his wife, Kimberly, have a two-year-old son, Mason, who was born when the coach was with UM as a graduate assistant.

Pandov maintains good relationships with all players, but one is working with him for the second time. Adrian Thomas is now a graduate student playing his sixth season with the ’Canes after suffering season-ending injuries in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. He understands how important Pandov’s job is to the players.

“Todor focuses more on stretching and flexibility,” Thomas said.

After his dreams of playing professional basketball were dashed in Arizona, Pandov has new dreams. He admires Wright and hopes to one day be considered in the same light as him.

“He is going to be one of the great young talents in strength and conditioning. He has a passion for his players,” Wright said.

Mikayla Vielot may be contacted a

November 21, 2010


Mikayla Vielot

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Athlon Sports released its projections for the 2018 college football season Monday. The predictions ...

Here is some impressive news for the University of Miami football program: All but one of the remain ...

Lonnie Walker IV stood out on and off the court at the NBA Draft Combine, which ended on Sunday in C ...

University of Miami incoming prep star Will Mallory, the other half of the soon-to-be No. 1 freshman ...

View photos as Miami Hurricanes Coach Jim Morris ends 41-year career on Saturday, May 19, 2018, at M ...

A snapshot guide to the start of summer in and around UM. ...

Former investment banker Charmel Maynard leads UM’s investments and treasury functions. ...

Over his more than two decades at the U, the dean of students from 1976-1989 always put students fir ...

The final Sea Secrets lecture at the Rosenstiel School examines the biofluorescence of marine organi ...

Maintenance mechanic Milton Davis has kept UM housing humming for decades. ...

Sinead Lohan and Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miami women's tennis team earned ITA Southeast R ...

Sophomore righthander Evan McKendry and freshman Freddy Zamora were among those recognized by the At ...

Senior Jeb Bargfeldt was recognized as ACC Pitcher of the Week following a dominating performance ag ...

No. 7 seed Miami opens its run at the 2018 ACC Baseball Championship Tuesday, May 22 against No. 11 ...

Although 17th-year head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews has made Sweet 16 appearances commonplace the jour ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.