Sometimes in life I find myself in what feels like a hamster wheel.
I get up, write a bit, answer emails, train, coach, hang with my family, and go to bed. This goes on day after day, and week after week. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wonder if I am really making a difference. If I am just collecting a paycheck, there are easier ways.
I coach because I want to help young men and women reach their goals. I want to see them become better humans, and I want to see them living a healthier lifestyle after they leave me as a coach. If this isn’t happening, I’m going to open a different business or just get a job.
A BLAST FROM THE PAST
This morning, I was training at one of my original gyms, Jack King’s Gym in Winston-Salem, NC. Number one, I love this gym because everyone leaves me alone to crush my grind, and it’s the most hardcore gym in America. You know – the kind of place that’s dirty with chalk-filled air. Man, I love it!
Toward the end of my grind, in walked one of my former athletes, Grayson Alberty. I didn’t even recognize him. Now he is tall, lean, and muscular. He also runs his father’s plumbing business, and he’s only 19 years old. He trained with me about six years ago. If I remember right, he was having a tough time in school, so he would come hang out with me right after school. He was into training for a bit, but then – like many people – he stopped coming. I remember being pretty sad because I invested a lot into this kid and had wanted to see his life improve.
Some coaches can just shrug it off when an athlete leaves. I am not wired that way. I connect very personally with each and every athlete. That’s why I am a good coach, but it’s also why I feel crushed when they stop.
GOALS AS A COACH
As a coach, I have a few goals with each of my athletes.
- I want to help them reach whatever goals they have on their hearts. (Notice I said ‘their’ and not ‘their parents’ goals.)
- I want to be a catalyst for the athletes becoming better human beings. I want them to be exceptional spouses, fathers, mothers, business owners, doctors, and lawyers. (We have an exceptional record in this department.)
- I want them to take the gift of fitness and continue it for the rest of their lives – while sharing it with the people they love.
That’s it! These are my goals for all of my athletes. It’s got to be about more than just their athletic development.
INFLUENCE AS A COACH
Sport coaches are important to athletes for sure. My high school football coach was very inspirational in my life. Like most high school coaches, he also doubled as the strength coach. It was in the weight room we developed our relationship. In college I was way closer with my strength and conditioning coach, Coach Mike Kent, than any other coach.
As strength and conditioning coaches we have to keep this in mind. We will be with these athletes a bigger part of the year than their sport coach. We will also be with them in smaller groups, allowing us to form stronger bonds. Several of my athletes have thanked me at their senior banquets and senior games before their sport coach, which every time was a massive honor. However with honor comes great responsibility, or at least it should. Of course if you are a weightlifting or powerlifting coach, you will probably be even closer with your athletes. You are their strength coach and sport coach, and that’s a big responsibility.
Grayson is an example of planting a seed only to see the seed blossom years later. Our job is to plant as many seeds as possible, but ultimately it is up to the athlete to let the seed sprout and bloom. Today I got to see one of my seeds in full bloom, and it totally rejuvenated my desire to coach and help young people.
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DIFFERENT KINDS OF SUCCESS STORIES
Everyone knows us for our first goal because we have helped several athletes reach their incredible goals like:
- Tommy Bohanon to the NFL
- Cade Carney to starting running back for Division I Wake Forest University
- Landon Harris making the Division I High Point University basketball team (after not making the team during the prior two years)
- Multiple World Team members to Team USA in weightlifting (including four in 2018: Hunter Elam, Nathan Damron, Jordan Cantrell, and Meredith Alwine)
- Multiple Junior World Team members (with two sitting on the team right now)
- Multiple Youth Pan Am Team members to Team USA in weightlifting (including three in 2018: Morgan McCullough, Ryan Grimsland, and Jared Flaming)
- Morgan McCullough taking the gold medal at the 2018 Youth Pan Am championships
That’s awesome, and of course I am proud of all my athletes. However, I am just as proud of my athletes who have gone on to become incredible humans.
- Adee Cazayoux is the CEO of Working Against Gravity – a multi-million dollar business that pretty much owns the nutrition world.
- Jared Enderton is now a social media celebrity and the head weightlifting coach for Invictus Weightlifting.
- Malcolm Moses-Hampton is a doctor in Chicago.
- Michael Waters, former Penn State Wrestler, is now in the Special Forces.
- Hayden Bowe is one of the founders of Hybrid Performance Method and Gym.
- Greg Nuckols and his amazing wife, Lyndsey Nuckols, are the owners of Stronger by Science. They’ve been featured in Forbes Magazine.
- Landon Harris, the same guy who made the basketball team for High Point University, is now a banker applying to MBA Schools. I actually wrote a recommendation for his Harvard application.
RESPONSIBILITY AS A COACH
We have a big responsibility as strength and conditioning coaches. Our responsibilities go way past helping our athletes reach their goals. Our goal should never be to glamorize ourselves as coaches. We become popular by the results of our athletes, and by the recommendation of our athletes. Our legacy is our athletes. It’s what our athletes do in their sport, and throughout their lives. It’s in the information we share with the world.
Becoming a coach is much like becoming a pastor. Being a pastor is hard work. If you are contemplating going into the ministry, most pastors will tell you that if you feel in your heart that you can do anything else, you probably should. But if you can’t imagine a life where you’re not a pastor, then pursue it.
It’s the same with being a strength coach. Don’t do it for the money, and definitely don’t do it for the fame. Do it for the love of others. I have never written anything more true, and I hope all of you men and women out there considering becoming a coach will read this before making a decision.
Today was a great day seeing Grayson Alberty. It’s days like today that encourage me to push on. However, there are a lot of hard days you will have to endure as a strength coach. With all of this being said, the beautiful days are simply amazing, and I can’t imagine anything else outside of my family and my God bringing me so much joy.
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