Crazy Life of a Coach: A Lot is Out of Your Control

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Crazy Life of a Coach: A Lot is Out of Your Control

Yesterday I found out from FloElite that I had qualified more athletes for the National Championships than any other coach in America. As I glanced down the list, I was truly humbled at the list of coaches. These were coaches that I have looked up to since my original days in weightlifting back in the ‘90s.

This article isn’t to brag about that list. This article is to open everyone’s eyes as to all the things that went into me being this top ranked coach. Some coaches might want to believe that they were born this top-notch coach, but I don’t think that at all.

There is a lot that goes into making a coach truly great. Today I am not going to talk about my knowledge as a coach, or my ability to recruit team members. Today I want to talk about the things that were almost out of my control. Today I want to talk about the things that I am thankful for.

1. My Athletes: you can be the smartest coach on earth, but if the athletes don’t believe in you, then you are a lonesome coach. I see this all the time. I will meet a coach at a competition, and they will proceed to tell me why their technique and programming is superior. I will of course listen because maybe I will learn something. When they are done explaining why they are dominant, I will ask how many National level athletes they coach. Normally the number is somewhere between 0-2.


I thank God for my athletes. All of them! My online team is amazing, and my onsite team is amazing. I believe that the Online Mash Mafia Team has proven to America that athletes can become great from receiving Online Coaching just ask Dan Koppenhaver or Anglea Tobash. Both of these athletes are on my National Team, and Dan actually medaled at the American Open.

My onsite team is full of some of the best weightlifters and powerlifters in the country. These athletes have moved from all over the country to be a part of this special team. I don’t know how it all happened, but I will have to thank two young men right off the bat.

When I returned from coaching MuscleDriver, Nathan Damron and Dylan Cooper joined me. We were a pretty lonely crew with Malcolm, Hannah, and Matt, and that was about it. However, others saw what we were building, and they trusted us enough to take the plunge. Now we are a packed gym looking for more room.

All of my athletes see amazing results, and as much as I would like to say that it is my top-secret programming, it is the atmosphere that creates the results. It is hard to put my finger on why the athletes trusted me enough to pick up their lives and move to Clemmons, NC, but I hope that I know the reason.

My athletes know that I love each and everyone of them. We do life together. I try to help them in all situations of their life. My prayer is that my athletes see that love, and that forms a trust that I have their best interest. However, God only knows.

2. The Coaches that have taught me. Yesterday, I got a text from my friend Sam Holmes or some of you might know him as Preacher Sam. He congratulated me about the FloElite ranking, and then we reminisced the past few years. He was with me when I was just getting started with coaching Olympic weightlifting.

Preacher Sam and I visited Team MuscleDriver together, and Sam remembered me saying that I wasn’t qualified to coach guys like Donnie and Jon. That humility drove me to go out and gather that knowledge. That humility remains today, and I am always on the lookout for new information. My programs change every year to match my updated knowledge. The athletes that have been with me from the beginning can tell you the degree of change.

However, there have been coaches along the way that have taken my under their wing to teach me the ways of Olympic weightlifting. Don McCauley, Greg Everett, Sean Waxman, John Bros, and Kevin Dougherty have all influenced me the most. This is not a complete list. I am simply talking about the ones that have influenced me the most, and I am only talking about weightlifting. The list is a mile long when you talk about coaches that have influenced me in strength and condition and powerlifting.

Don McCauley is my mentor. He took me under his wing at MuscleDriver and taught me everything about technique. I learned exercises and drills to correct movement patterns and weaknesses. I learned what to look for. Don continues to teach me on the daily as he is now a coach for my team. I am so honored to have him coaching with me, and I pray that we finish our coaching careers together.

Greg Everett has been my mentor since the moment I entered the world of coaching Olympic weightlifting. For some reason, he saw something in me before anyone else did. Forever, in the sport of weightlifting, I was the powerlifter trying to coach weightlifting. No one knew about my background in weightlifting or strength and conditioning, but Greg for some reason believed early.

Greg has been a huge influence in the way that I program. He has also been a big help with my business as everyone should model their websites after the Catalyst website. Most of all Greg influenced my desire to grow the sport of weightlifting in America. His documentary “American Weightlifting” is full on insight on what needs to happen for Americans to medal on the National scene.


Sean Waxman and I became friends from the first day that we met. This guy loves the sport of weightlifting, and he loves his athletes. Sean would go to war for his athletes, and I believe that is the mentality that all coaches should take. When it comes to biomechanics, Sean is the go to coach for knowledge. All great weightlifting coaches are nerds because the sport has such a small degree of error. Sean is a wealth of knowledge in cleaning up athlete’s movement patterns.

John Broz is the coolest man in weightlifting. He is a walking “History of Weightlifting” book, but there is one main thing that he has taught me. John is the one that taught me that there has to be a shift in mindset for American weightlifting to improve. For years athletes and coaches have hoped to “make the Olympics”. For our country to improve, we have to desire to “win the Olympics”. If you can’t think it, you can’t do it.

Kevin Dougherty of Hassle Free Barbell is a meet technician. He knows exactly what his athletes need to total to: win, qualify for a team, earn a stipend, and/or get best lifter with Sinclair. Every National Meet from the very beginning of my career, Kevin has given me advice and explained strategy. This knowledge has helped me become a very prepared coach at all meets.

These coaches didn’t have to help me. They just chose to invest in me, and I am forever grateful for their friendship and belief in me. So much of becoming a great coach is out of the control of coaches. I had nothing to do with these coaches helping me, but their investment in me helped to make me one of the top coaches in America.

3. Life Experiences- I have spent my whole life following my love of the barbell. I had no idea that I would someday be the coach of the best weightlifting and powerlifting team in America. I was simply following my heart. Everyone around me was telling me to get a real job. Yet something inside me wouldn’t allow me to sway from the path.

This path took me into the lives of such great people as Louie Simmons, Barbell Shrugged, Caffeine and Kilos, Charles Poliquin, and Coach Joe Kenn to name just a few. All of these relationships have helped to mold me as a coach. However, that wasn’t my goal. My goal was simply to master the barbell for me. I didn’t have a long-term plan. I just loved the barbell, and I wanted to know all that I could know about it.

If you are reading this, I hope that it opens your eyes. If you want to be a great coach, you will need a lot more than just knowledge. You need people to believe in you. You need other coaches that will help teach you all the aspects of the sport. Your own life experiences will help shape you as a coach. I suggest choosing your steps wisely.

Thank you to everyone that has chosen to support me thus far!

Don’t forget about the Mash Elite Weightlifting Team Camp:

We are hosting a three-day camp July 8-10 at the Mash Compound. It’s going to look like this:

• Day 1 Max Out Friday with the team and social afterwards
• Day 2 Clinic with Coach McCauley, Coach Wilkes, me and the team
• Day 3 Clinic about meet day prep and strategy, and then a sanctioned meet

We’ve decided to limit the camp to only 20 people, so don’t wait if you’re interested. Here’s the link to find out more:

<<<3 Day Mash Camp>>>

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