Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I've always liked pictures of a loaded leg press machine.  Probably because I'm not an awesome squatter by any standards, but can load a leg press and push some decent weight. 

So I took this pic a while back and added a quote...
...for two reasons.

1) Resistance 
     It's relative.  We all feel it in some way.  What's easy to you, might be extremely challenging to another.  What's light for you, might be heavy for another.  It's all relative to the individual with many variables that can push or pull the lines in all directions.  
Like I've referenced in the past couple blogs, our roads/paths were on, they're similar but different.  We happen to be on the same planet, maybe in the same area of it, but with all very different childhoods, upbringing, development, etc.  We all have different skills and expertise, different strengths and areas where we strive just as we have the opposite.  A while back, I took my car in for troubles.  It was something super basic that I felt I should've or could've handled.  I apologized for wasting his time.  Mark, the excellent mechanic on the corner of Richmond Rd and Wilson Mills said "We all know what we know.  I know this, this is my profession, you have yours which I know nothing about.  You can teach me one day."
So it's important that we combine our knowledge and experiences and collect energy to create strong bonds and become a more helpful community.  
Be helpful.
Be useful.

2) Power
     (I'm about to write something pretty dicky but hang w me... I can clear it up.  You may be the exception to what I'm about to say so, settle down).
When hiring an employee, I would definitely give extra "points," towards someone who was once an athlete in a team sport, was a team leader of that sport or someone who was active in the weight room. 
Not because of work ethic exactly, and not because of some jockish machismo crap. 
Drive.  In my experiences, those who come from a team sport background, are driven by passion and pride, not money, and that's huge for me.  When you're driven by pride, a particular amount of dollars isn't going to change how hard you work or how you work.   
Now, obviously we all need to make money and spend money and all that, I'm not saying I'm anti-money.   But I am in the sense of motivational roots.  If money is the only thing in your head that will make you great, you're a flawed character.  If it's pride that fuels you, you'll be paid everyday. 
I've also found those in sports in general, not just team sports, have a greater tolerance for pain and are much harder to beat and again, these are the people that would make up my staff. How and why?  
When you grow up competing constantly, whether on a field, weight room, court, mat, ring, wherever... You are constantly being tested by others and testing yourself.  You grow and nurture (if done right) a need, a desire to always compete and win. So if we're talking about a sales position, that athlete is still  in there and wants to win big.  Whatever the position is, the athlete is still there, wants to win big, wants to dominate and stand out. 
Example:  I have a friend who heads up a department.  His had an employee on his staff that was an absolute standout.  I always asked "do you know why?"  He didn't.  I said "because she was a d1 athlete."  He resisted this idea... Until shelves and he had to replace her.  And now he's still searching for someone to step up into her role and do the job... Crickets.  I said "look for an athletic background and you'll find your diamond."
I know someone who doesn't consider themself an athlete may challenge this, but I attribute this mindset to runners, lifters, anywhere there are people pushing themselves physically and to an uncomfortable level.  
*Female athletes receive double points.  

Anyone can do something easy.  
Who pushes through the hard work?  
Who doesn't have a quit button?
Who doesn't mind the pain? (Tattoos anyone?)
Who can sit at half time down 3 scores and know deep down, "we'll come back," and believe it and then make it happen?
Who can lose?  Who can lose and let it hurt so bad all they want to do is get back out there, get back to the weight room, get back to practice and make it right, then go back and compete again w no fear?

Pressure and resistance mold us, it shapes us accordingly to take on the challenges we need.  Challenges we personally need to become who we are destined to be.   
When we were kids, we asked "what are you going to be?" And "what are you going to do?"  Then a phase of life comes around and we stopped asking and settled into the momentum of our childhood.  Maybe for better, maybe not, we let pressure and resistance mold away and we went along for the ride.  
Use it as a tool.  Your will.  
Examine how you personally challenge yourself in life.  Do you take the easy road?  Do you back out when in pain, challenged or pushed?
Do you road back like a lion and claw through the grind?

Never stop evolving.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

First Rule of Fight Club...

First rule of the blog, never talk about the blog.
I was logging in just to move some links around and kill some time... and I happened to notice the stats on these blogs, which is something I really try to ignore now.  But like I said, I happened to glance over at the numbers and thought "that's kinda cool."
I write, I share and this blog has been visited nearly 14,000 times.
I used to ignore the numbers because I didn't want it to effect what I choose to write about it what I say.  If I write a rather boring "how to," blog and only see 50 some readers, I'd react and stay away from those thinking no one cared to read it.
But now, I just write and ignore the numbers... for the most part.
Above all else, I hope you're enjoying the honesty.  When I'm writing, I truly treat it like a journal and often get a little nervous to share these online.  Then when I do, I think with all the crap on social media, this post will fly right by and no one will click it.
But thanks for "clicking it."  :)

I had a list of notes in my phone that I wanted to share this week, because some new things have popped up since my last post, which was literally written as the title read, on my lunch break with my shoes off.
Lets just say, I was in a situation that tends to "poke me."  Remember that friend you had that would linger a finger in front of your face taunting "I'm not touching you?" and then you eventually grab that finger and twist it til you hear a little pop, then they start crying about "why'd you do that?!?!"  it's pretty much like that.  So at one particular moment, I had to walk off and find some quiet time.  I didn't plan it, I didn't think much of it, I just walked off into some woods and stood.
And honestly, tears came... I stood there and just kinda let them fill up the eyes and took a deep breath and just relaxed.  I tried to relax my shoulders... my back... all the crazy pains I've been feeling and when I did, tears just slowly built up and it felt really, really good.
Clean.  I remember walking away feeling like I just washed my face and hands.
Anxiety is a mofo!  Really is... stress and anxiety can really whip your butt.  See, I'm awesome at telling everyone else whats best, but pretty bad at taking my own advice.  I need constant reminders (which are loaded in my phone via alarms, notes and scheduled messages) to listen to the advice I tell others.
That afternoon, I took a chair and my salad and sat at the edge of the woods, and took my shoes off.  I felt I needed to reconnect to something... maybe the grass.  Maybe it was a placebo effect but it worked and I felt really good about my time.  I left my phone alone, no surfing any sites or social media, just chilling.  Near the end of my break, I set everything down and meditated... first time in months and I felt it.  150%.  I just sat, breathed, felt the air, and focused on relaxing every muscle, every joint, every single ache and pain... I just focused on relaxing whatever was needed to relieve the pain.
When i finished, I wrote the last blog, "shoes off lunch break."
Then a word slowly stirred through my mind and hasn't left me, SIMPLE.
Be simple.
Thinking of the stresses and anxiety, it was built up from a pretty hectic and truly stressful year.  And in the commotion and pressure, I've overworked and let some things that are/were important to me, go and I now see the need to get them back.  For example, that brief meditation session near the woods, it turned a light on an area I pushed to a dark corner.  I felt it physically in the form of aches and pains and once I paused long enough to acknowledge them, I was able to control them.
Mediation was something I was once very consistent with and found it extremely helpful.  Then all the sudden, I was toooooo busy to sit down and take care of myself in this way.  And like the old saying goes, "if you're too busy for 5 minutes, you probably need 30," or something like that. But its true.
And now I'm thinking BE SIMPLE.
I have a statement on my dry erase in the office "Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves."  I feel this is right in line.  I was so busy worrying and pressing for this particular end goal, that I've flown right through the year.  A baseball analogy?  ok... it's like I was trying to hit grand slams without getting guys on base first.  Little things, baby steps.  All my goals, I was seeing as these massive hurdles and ignored all the little things, the little steps it takes.
You cant save $12,000 in one month, you do it over a course of time.  You can't lose 40lbs in one month, you do it over the course of time.
"Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves."
Day by day, step by step...

My next thought was "momentum," and how powerful it can be and can be found everywhere.  In our relationships, the work place, our training, our education, our personal development.  We can see it in our friends, in our children or parents... we see momentum.
I see it in a more spiritual way than just saying "habit..." I think it's different.  Similar but different.
Even as i write that, I thought ahead to my day tomorrow and how important it is for me to wake up earlier than usual, to start getting my body moving earlier.  I have much better days when I'm not rushed to leave the house and more moments tend to come together for me.  When I'm prepared, well rested and so on, my mind is in line, my body feels good and thats how I start to build momentum for that particular day.
Not to turn a corner, but as I thought of wrapping up, I wanted to add one more point.... bad momentum.  Understand that its due to negative self talk.  (Again, read above... I'm bad at listening ot myself, but working on it.)
Negative self talk can sabotage everything you're doing, and all of your dreams.  I know you probably cant just turn it off, so many people think you can.  Like depression, you really cant just snap a finger and bounce back.  But just acknowledge it.  When you say something negative to yourself, about yourself, about your job, about your life, just pause and notice it... notice where it came from... notice if theres really any valuable truth to it or are you just repeating something someone said 20 years ago... as they passed their shitty momentum onto you... think about that... how you see things... is it really you, or the glasses someone handed you?  Are you seeing things, yourself, your life, your choices, through your eyes or someone else's?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Shoes off lunch break

Imagine you own (or if you do own, no need to imagine) a high performance vehicle...
And even though we own it, we do not have unlimited funds, so we budget our gas and other expenses to care for it the way we should. 
We make sure the tires and suspension are in good shape.  We check oil levels and other fluids to be certain there are no issues while in use.
Then we fill it with the most efficient and clean gasoline we can find and we're on w our day.  
Again, were on a budget so we're not joy riding, we're making use of our gasoline and using our tires wisely.  We drive w care for ourselves and others, we can't be reckless w this vehicle.  Like I said, we own it now, but do not have the funds to replace it if something were to happen.  

Now remove the car and think of our bodies...
And think.
How do we care for them?
How do we fuel them?  
How do we maintain?
How are we certain we're using our only true high performance "vehicle," to it's utmost potential?
What if we viewed our food, our nutrients, our calories, as they truly are AS we consume?  And think... "This protein will fuel my body to..." or "these vitamins and essential nutrients will help me..."
Go where?
Do what?
What will they help you accomplish?

Do you know what proteins, carbohydrates and fats do for you?  (Hint:  they're not just staples in the newest fad diet.... They're real.)

Take a moment or several, to sit quietly alone... Maybe find some shade and grass... Take your shoes off and reconnect.   Breathe...
Think of our "vehicles," and where we're going...

Then take it to another level...
How do we maintain our "computers?"  How do we care for our mental state?  What are we doing to evolve, learn and progress, like a program?

And the intangible...
The soul.  
How is it being cared for, nourished?  It too needs attention, like a plant needs water, sunshine and great soil.

And take care of the "vehicle," and all others near you

Monday, September 22, 2014

Play All 4 Quarters

Last blog I said footballs been ruined by greedy old men.
The blog before I said "I'm not a football guy."
This blog, I'm totally full of crap on the previous two comments but will justify it with an attempt at a clever analogy.

Woke up Sunday morning in a downtown hotel and along w a couple buddies, headed over to a lot for some pregame festivities.  In past seasons, this was the highlight, but so far this years Brownies have been worth tuning in for despite the 1-2 start.
2 losses as time slipped away.
The previous two games, I sat home and listened on the radio, texting Andy random thoughts and observations as to the play on the field.  Both of those games, my last text was "that's why you play all 4 quarters."
Against the Steelers, had they quit at halftime, we were blown out.  But we adjusted, came back and took a lead before losing as time expired.
Against the Saints, we came out strong but had many moments where we looked as though we were trying to give it away. 
 Same goes for yesterday.  We looked so good, so strong, for so long... But it wasn't enough.  Too many mistakes in the 4th quarter lost us the game.  At times, we looked confused, unprepared and we just didn't get the job done when it matter most.
In football on nearly any level of any game and throughout a season, there are highs and lows.  You have time on your side as a type of checking point as to know when you need to make a particular move or look to adjust.   You know the season is 8 or 10 or 17 weeks.  You know the quarters are 8, 10 or however long.  And you know in each game, you have 4 quarters to make of happen.  
There will be mistakes.  There will be success.  There will be things, moments, that you knew would happen, moments or plays you prepared for, and you'll either execute or you won't. 
You may get a big lead one day, but then lose focus in the success and blow the lead.
You may start off rocky, losing by 21 in the fourth, but make your halftime adjustments and fight your way back into the game.  
Maybe you'll win, maybe not.  But you have to go hard for 4 quarters in order to absorb all the benefits... I almost wrote nutrients. Same thing.  Those experiences of life, wins and losses, success and failure and all those little moments within that fill the space with intangibles, those are the nutrients for our soul.  
I barely remember the games... I remember the practices.  I absorbed all those nutrients for years.  

So let's say, for the pictures sake, we'll live to be 80 years old.  That means every 20 years is our quarter.  
Where are you?  Me, I'm approaching halftime pretty soon. My score... Not quite sure.  I think I probably came out of the first quarter a little rocky the way most rookies do but I've made adjustments.  See, I'm a good coach, I know you have to be willing to learn and adapt and evolve to win.  So once I made to through the learning curve of the 1st quarter and most of the 2nd quarter, I picked up momentum and headed myself in a more fitting direction.  
Am I losing at the moment?  I think it's a close ball game, but I'm headed into halftime soon and see myself as a great second half team.
How about you? 
What quarter are you in?  
How's your momentum?
Remember, you can really suck in the first half, but if you come out of the locker room ready to play, you can come back and end the game respectable.  Maybe even win it.  

But sometime, some teams think they can coast and win it in the 4th and that works on their field... Not ours.  We don't actually get to see the clock.  We don't know when our 4th quarter starts or ends.
So play hard now, win now and you won't have to worry about the clock expiring. 
Every day is that chance to score, to have success, to make positive strides forward.   Don't wait. 
Go back to school.
Get back on your training schedule. 
Write that goal list and hit those goals. 
Make your dreams become a reality.  
We have one game to play.  
Play to win, everyday. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Just a quicky (8 yr olds playing football and "when is yoga starting?)

Last weekend, I was driving through a neighborhood with my daughters in the car, listening to Modest Mouse (People as places as people).  Quick sidenote:  When I was younger I thought how I didnt want to influence my girls and wanted them to "blossom," into their true selves.  But then I thought "Hey dummy, your taste in music is sweet!  Influence your ass off!" So in my car, they get to hear Modest Mouse, John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Dave & Tim and of course, some pretty Pearl Jam tunes.
Anyway, we're cruising along and talking and I see a flag football game.  We're at the red light, all watching the action... the 8 yr olds playing the game.  And I kinda had to get out of there.
I think the book I recently read, referenced in the last blog entry, on top of the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson had me a little ultra emotional about things, especially kids and then football.
I now see the NFL as I do most things... a great idea, seriously F'd up by adults, greed and money.  Very few things haven't fell into that category at some point.
But here, I saw kids playing a great sport at the core level, in a neighborhood, with parents in lawn chairs.  Not to be too negative about it, but it goes down hill from there... why?  Because some goofy ass dad is going to think his kid is the next Buckeye great and force feed it down his throat and it gets progressively worse from here.  middle school, high school, to college (maybe).
Yup, my opinions on youth sports are jaded.  But not because of the kids, because of the same reasons I listed above, adults-greed-money.

Phase 1 was Womens Weight Training.  Think of a large mason jar, phase 1 was filling it with marbles.
Phase 2 was Kettles, Core & Cardio.  That was us filling it with small pebbles and sand.
We thought, "Alright, we're getting it all in now."
(no bs, I just heard someone mention in the hall "When is the yoga starting?"
Phase 3.  You've taken yoga before or maybe not.  You may have some expectation as to what will happen in there... "we'll stretch, and pose, it'll improve my flexibilty... We'll hum."  I don't know what you really think.  But I know, without any doubt, that your thoughts are short compared to whats actually going to happen... Except for the humming, we won't be humming.
The first two classes are sound. They're needed.  They're the bread n butter.  But Phase 3 is the intangible.  Its the class that'll change how you train, how you run, how you walk, how you work, how you think, how you feel, how you study, how you teach, how you coach, what you look at, how you breathe.
Lets rewind.

I'm new, right?  (obviously not to everyone reading, but i have a target audience in mind).  So I'm new.
Here's a brief summary of how it began...
I weighed around 315-325lbs.  No one told me and for some reason, I didnt see it.  One day, some bad bad news came around and I blamed my fat.  Positive from a negative.  So I joined the gym, Ballys in Willoughby.  I tore out some workouts from a Flex Magazine and headed out with a friend.  I had a clunky pair of white high tops, sloppy clothes and no cardio.  I tried running.  Couldnt run 1/8 mile.  Tried the elliptical, legs hurt.  I curled, I shoulder pressed, and floated around in a pool.
One day, two guys pulled me aside and asked me what I was doing.  I said "trying to lose weight."  They've obviously seen my pathetic effort and program and decided to help this sad bastard out.  They wrote it up, told me what to eat, told me how to do it all and said "See you tomorrow."
I remember thinking "Crap... I'm a big guy... I dont want them thinking I'm a wimp.  Now I have to show up and do this."
These guys were Marines and chiseled.  Not overly muscular or body builders, but defined, large and athletic in appearance.  One of the workouts they gave me is still one we go through in bootcamps and I post it online often.
Anyway, I did it.  I did everything they said, ate what they said, ran the way they said, and lost around 90lbs.
Later on, I became a high school football coach, then started working with high school athletes, then became a personal trainer.

Then I hurt my back and went to a chiropractor... excellent guy up at the Clinic, Dr. Torak (sorry if I spelled it wrong).  We talked a lot about training, rehab tips and a new buzz word "pre-hab," ways to train imbalances to prevent potential injuries.  At the time, it wasn't something I ever thought much about.  Yes, form is one thing and lifting properly is essential, but this was different.  This had more focus on intangibles, the deep fibers, the assisting muscles that you dont flex in the mirror. Through our talks, he said "give some yoga a shot."
So I googled, found a place and went up.  I was (or maybe I still am) a Buddhist so walking into a  yoga studio for the first time didn't overwhelm me the way it might other guys.  I was prepared to be surprised... and that was an understatement.  Within a few weeks of classes, I immediately appreciated the physical benefits.  But the catch, the hook, were the thoughts and feelings that arose.  This wasn't a workout.  This wasn't a stretch routine.  There was something going on in here that I haven't felt since my old coach used to whisper (or grumble) something at me that made want to run through a wall, in a good way, of course.  I came out of these classes feeling AMAZING.  amazing.  And I wanted more.  I wanted to know why.  So I dove into the books, the history, the science.
Then I began incorporating everything, the lifting with the yoga, the yoga with the athletics and it became my passion.

So here we are... and roll all that up.  Maybe you've read some blogs and have a feel for what its all about.  Maybe you've dove into my Monday and Wednesday classes and got a feel for it all.  But I'm telling you, without a doubt, this is the class you want to set your clock to.
It wont be easy.  Yes, we'll be starting slow, because I have to assume we're all "new."  But you know how we're in a class and I say 5 more and somehow say 3 more 5 later?  :)  Bring a water, a mat and change of clothes.  You will not want to sit in your car in the same clothes you're taking class in.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Entries Throughout A Book About My Hero

Everything written below was a collection of thoughts and feelings that reopened while reading my new book.


Since I started my new book, "Paterno Legacy," written by Joe's son Jay, a lot of emotions have recently stirred up.   Some that I probably buried intentionally, some that I didn't even realize faded away.   Within the first few pages, like a new pair of prescription glasses, I started see things differently.  Different but not new, old actually.   Thoughts and feelings that I buried away through pain and failures, of my own and then again when the scandal broke in November of 2011.  Maybe how some Catholics felt when the scandals involving the priests broke, their religion shook, maybe their foundation was in danger. Mine was.  I never realized how much Joe Paterno and the standards he set on and off the field were my religion, my foundation.  I've always been the kind of person that needed role models and heros, and Joe Paterno was always mine. So again, November 2011 changed it all and then when he passed a few months later, a lot changed for me.  I never really thought of myself as a "football guy," I was a "JoePa guy."    

I've been wearing navy blue and white for as long as I can remember.  First it was the logo of the Nittany Lion that had me hooked around 10 years old... Then I saw the helmets and the black Nikes while everyone else wore white or something flashy.   Then the solid colored jerseys w no names on the back.  Just the team.  Guys stood out, but there was stan no I, just team. 
Then as I grew up a bit and watched more Saturday afternoon football, I saw his black polished Nikes, the rolled up dress pants (because he didn't want to ruin them or make more work at home for his wife to clean) and the coke bottle glasses... A small man, leading a team.  Later I learned he not only lead the team, but the city and university and in some ways college football as a whole.
So as new and old thoughts and feelings float around, I'll be logging them below and possibly by the end of the book, I'll have figured something out about myself.

Day 1 
For the past couple years, everytime I wore a TShirt or hat or shorts, a joke soon followed by nearly anyone near... Makes me kinda wish I didn't come across so friendly.  A meaner mug would've deterred their ignorance.  
But it actually shows what a poor job done by the media.  I asked someone "remember the guys name who was found guilty?"  They didn't.  All they remembered was the scandal and headlines, the name and the face of the football program, which was never accused of any crime, or subject of any investigation, and handed over any and all info immediatly upon receiving it.  
How easy it is to forget facts and logic when scandal and conspiracies are so much more fun to talk about.

Day 2
I'm a little ashamed w myself that I've allowed my dreams to fade.  When I was younger, all I wanted was to find that one school, one team and never leave.  I wanted to emulate and teach, just as Joe did. I've let politics and society take that from me, I've let them weaken my vision... And the funny thing, to me now, is that it never faded, it was just buried away underneath the rules of their (politics and society) game. 
 I think you do have to have a rebellious soul and fearless heart to follow a dream through, a vision for a lifetime.  

Day 3
I wonder where our standards as a society started to slide.  Is it human instinct to push the boundaries of rules or to challenge traditions?  
Maybe in a lot of ways, things were better in the past....
The ones that I work with consistently don't really fall under this next statement, but look at teenagers these days (how old do I sound now?  Jeez).  But I don't see the drive or passion for athletics that I once did and I think that's a sign as to where things are headed.  Athletics are a great teaching tool for work ethic, team work, and goal setting.  If that's not as strong as it once was, is it safe to say we may be slipping into a lazier, sloppier brand of society?  
I think people used to want to change to become better.  Now they want change to make it easier.  
It's ok to have high standards in everything you do, in fact, you should.  I think kids now (in certain areas) look down on those who abide by rules and get straight A's.  I blame society (whoever society is) for making the Kardashians cool, or reporting on Justin Beibers driving record and following Miley Cyrus through a mall.  
Role models and heros are pretty hard to find these days. 

Day 4
Ironically, the topic of heros just came up when I watched Phil Knights speech at Joe Paternos memorial service on YouTube. He talked about having heros his entire life and had Joe for the last 12 years.  When Joe passed, he wondered "where will I find my hero now?"  
I assume feeling how I feel... Are there any left?  Where to look...

Day 5
It's funny reading locker room stories... Hearing the voices and playing out the scenes in your mind.
I definitely started coaching way too young.  I think I was 23 or so when I had my first taste and even though I think I was brought along properly in year 1 and 2, my head definitely inflated much too fast and for absolutely no reason.  I went from a scout to a head middle school coach to thinking I was ready for a head hs job... Typical me.  Then I coached a few more years in middle schools before heading up to varsity level... Unfortunately, still too young, still too big of a head and a total pain in the ass for the head coach.  But within a couple years, I was running defenses and finally started to settle down.  Getting your ass handed to you a few times is an extremely humbling experience and when your fancy little playbook takes a dump on a Friday night, it'll cause you to stay up late wondering what went wrong... And that's where the growing begins.   The best thing that ever happened to me was coaching those 1-9 and 2-8 teams.  (And for the record, probably my most memorable years and some of the most talented players I've ever coached).  
As Joe Paterno would say "Youth is a disease... Luckily, it's curable."  Experience is the cure.  For me, coaching is about teaching and preparing young people for life.  At 24, I had very few teachable experiences. Yes, I was still firey and intense, but lacked patience and empathy.
When you're young, you're cocky and you blast off with all this cocky energy.  But as you travel, those cocky rocket boosters fall away and now you're running on your real fuel and you find out who you really are. 
I learned that X's and O's aren't that important.  Every coach has them.   
I learned that you have to coach every kid on the team, not just the studs and not just the guys you relate to. Actually, now I probably give more attention to back ups than starters.   Plus backups usually work harder and want it more.  
I learned that every day, every drill is a chance to teach a lesson, some more lasting than others, but an opportunity anyway.   Don't waste the time.  That's why I credit those losing seasons.  As far as outsiders were concerned, we had nothing to play for.  But for us, we were playing to play hard.  To be in games.  To be respectable. In a backwards way, I think I loved being behind.  I loved looking up at the clock and thinking "only down 2 scores... Let's get a turnover and rally back," and then bring the guys in, speak from the heart and get their excitement up for the challenge... Dammit I miss that.  What I loved most about this team was their work ethic.  We had games where we were slaughtered, around 56-6 or something like that, and although it hurt that night and probably over the weekend, come Monday afternoon, we were back to work, full go. You'd never guess what the result was from the week prior.
 I coached a championship level teams few years after that and it didn't have the same appeal.  Still awesome kids, really good talent, but the wins hurt them.  The blowout victories, as good as they were hurt them.  And I knew heading into the playoffs that we'd be punished for not being battle tested... We had no battle scars.  So I knew when we faced a fire, it would be a new heat that we weren't accustomed to... How would we react?   
All in all... The majority of the guys faired well, real well, but football needs 11 players on both sides of the ball and we just didn't have enough.   Still no regrets.  Once I dropped my "rocket boosters," and became a coach, I haven't regretted a job yet.  
My only regret is that I'm not out there this year.  I've realized recently that it's the only place I truly belong.  Unfortunately, it's extremely difficult to lock up w a team when you're not a teacher.  Teachers and faculty get first dibs on contracts, understandably so, but I usually get a call in the summer like "hey, we need help on D," and I'm off.  This year, I declined for the sake of work... Ugh.   
(Pathetic job hunt:if there are any schools out there looking for a weight room instructor or any other paid position,  I'm your guy!  Email jason@bluechipstrength.com and I'll send a resume).
Obviously, my goal is to find one school and never leave.  To coach there for 40+ years.
Sidenote: I know I talk a lot of junk from time to time about what coaches should be, but I can honestly say that I've been extremely lucky to coach w some great guys.  Some may have yelled a bit too much or some may have been a little too soft, but all in all, the guys I've coached with always wanted to see the kids succeed.  I may not have appreciated them the way I should have and I'm sorry.   There were times where we'd debate or argue and that's needed.  We were never "yes men," to each other, we always challenged each other and that's important when you're trying to grow and come up w new ideas and to hold the ones accountable.   We may have made mistakes in a decision but never in full.  

Day 6
When my girls were younger, they knew the "kitty cat," logo.  The blue and white Nittany Lion logo of Penn State.  I wish it lasted long enough for them to see why. Why the logo was at every turn, on all my shirts, shorts, on pillows, glasses, stickers, and books. 
I'll tell stories down the road and maybe they'll sound how someone now talks about JFK or another great figure of the 50's or 60's.  We can tell the stories, but the feelings will never be properly captured.  

Day 7
Should it really take this long to read a book??
I've never been a quick reader... And with this one, I might be dragging my feet.  
I've heard people talk about their books and how they can escape to their fantasy land that the author lays out, they see the landscape and hear the voices... Smell the scent and feel as much as possible... Which asks the question "if it happens in your head, is that just as real as real?"
So here, w this book, I get to go back to Happy Valley everytime I open it up... Unfortunately, I know the ending.  I'm hanging on though, hoping the author is able to write something that changes history...

Day 8 
(Promise, I'll wrap up soon)
I was beginning to wonder how or when any of this will tie into anything you can relate to.  At first glance, it might look like some nutty guy, rambling away about his hero, on and on.  But then I remembered an interview that was going so-so until I was stuck on a question and my answer was "this might not make sense, but I am a Joe Paterno guy."  The interviewer broke a huge smile and said "I completely understand.. Say no more." And from there it went from interview to conversation and I was hired. 
I think it's a real possibility, that my work, my blogs, everything I've done, has been in attempt to say that same phrase, "I'm a Joe Paterno guy."
What does that mean? This is the hang up, because I really don't think too much about talking about myself or what I think I've done, I want the action to speak for themselves.  I think we should all want that for each other and ourselves.  Let your actions speak, "don't tell me - show me," type of mentality.  
It means being truthful, even when it hurts or it's not what you want to hear... A lesson hard learned. 
It means being fair, even when the outcome may not lean your way.
It means standing up for people that may not have a voice or not yet strong enough to use it. 

It means to think of WE, not ME... US, not I.  

Until Coach Paternos last days, all he wanted to see or help with, was the victims and the university.  He didn't quite know the university was preparing to isolate him and make him their goat. It was their PR move that the media w run with.  The media and the trustees found Joe Paterno guilty.  Guilty of not fulfilling a moral obligation, even though everything Joe knew was reported to the AD, the president of the university and then a grand jury and he was never once under investigation or found negligent.  He offered full disclosure at every turn and did the right thing.  It cost him his job and when his health slid away within months, you might say it cost his life.  He did the right thing, chose the right way, at every turn of his life, right til the end. 

 Day 9
This was a life changing book for me. 
It was a reminder back to the roots of my why.... Something I lost along the road.  
But it's clear again and I feel fresh air, new energy.  

I think there have been times where I've been too hard, too critical, too tough on others and myself and that's going to change.  We're all just people, constantly growing and moving and trying to do the best we can.  All we can do is be better today than we were yesterday.  Just little steps, over time make a big difference and I've often looked for too much, too fast.  Again, this book was a reminder as to what's important.  Here was a guy, one of the most powerful, most influential men in sports, in the world... That touched millions of people throughout his life and in his mind, he was just a football coach, father and grandfather.  

"You're never as good as your best or as bad as your worst."



(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Source: A Choice of Kipling's Verse (1943)

Watching practice

I can't put into words how good it felt to be in this building...

And witness my... Childhood?  I don't know.  I really can't explain it.  I could've moved here and just been an equipment guy and it would've been great just to be a part of it all.

Coach Paterno bringing out the guys before a game.
The outdoor practice field w Mount Nittany in the background.
The first time I saw Coach, I was standing near this field and my brother got my attention and motioned across the opposite field, and he was just standing there, looking out at the same range.  Gray sweat shirt, khakis, white socks, black Nikes, just as I would've imagined.  I remember thinking it couldn't be him.., it can't be... He's just standing there, like us.  No security, no one bothering him, just walking.  I couldn't approach him that first year... Or second. I just walked where he walked and watched him.  Every drill he oversaw, every player he pulled aside, I was in the background.  I just wanted to experience what the Lion was all about, just a piece if that's all I could.
Year 3, I told myself "that's it, I'm making myself known to all coach, and definitely Joe."  I never dreamed it would be my last trip.  
I was primarily there to sit in on the strength & conditioning sessions.  Over the years, I annoyed the staff so much w emails and questions, they eventually gave me an open invite to come up and watch whenever I could.  One strength coach even offered a place to crash.  Probably 60-70% of my training program/style comes from Happy Valley and a guy the National Strength & Conditioning Assoc calls a "master," John Thomas.  He was my "Joe," in the weight room, if he said it, it was golden, written down, and repeated.  
Anyway, mission accomplished.  By the time I left, I was on a first name basis w nearly all coaches I shadowed and even had the chance to talk about my defensive schemes w their defensive guru, Tom Bradley... Obviously he liked it, my playbook was his playbook.  
I did eventually shake Joes hand... I've never been more nervous.  Walking up I remember being scared he'd ask me a question and I wouldn't know the answer or I would've be able to get his attention w other coaches around.  I said "it's an honor," shook his hand and immediately turned away and towards his view to watch what he was watching.  We were on the game field in Beaver Stadium.  He asked "what do you think?" 
 Please be asking about the team... Please be asking the team... Oh shit.
"Fast... Really fast."
He agreed "I think it's the fastest team we've ever had."
And that was all, and all I needed.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Random Rant on Coaching

Fall is definitely feeling here, which means my annual mood has arrived as well.  The mood... Not sure what it's called. I'm a little nit-picky, my standards are on alert, and I'm pretty quick to address any and all areas of concern and attempt to do so, again w high standards.  I hope this doesn't read all "uppity," but I think it's something we all need to do, address our standards, assess ourselves, and raise our standards.  If we're not sticking to a core set of beliefs, of rights and wrongs with the intent to help and better people... What are we doing?

(Sidenote: I've been without internet for a couple days, thank you Time Warner for the excellent service, so I'm writing this on my iPhone.  Please excuse any typos or incorrect autocorrects that slip by).

1) I'm not very confident the best coaching candidates are teachers anymore.  At one time, yes, but not now.  I think there are too many angles, too much politics.  A coach can't be honest and complete if he's worrying about being undermined by the principle or another member of the faculty and unfortunately, it happens much more than you know.  I was part of a staff once that needed a serious overhaul in their strength & conditioning department. So I volunteered to run the off-season... For free.  The "staff," decided they had to go w the guy the school hired, who had zero lifting/training experience and recvd his cert at a weekend seminar, but in going a him "it would create less waves."  Was a decision made there to benefit the kids and the team?  Or to appease the AD and the board?
If a school wants to have good coaches, they need to have a better interview process, better pay and then observe from a distance.  Once the trust is there, step away and let the coach, coach.  I've worked w too many coaches who made decisions based on a conversation they thought they would have if they decided "x," over "y."

2) The role of the coach is very, very underrated.  I think it's most effective when there's some distance, to follow up my above point.  The kids already deal w family and teachers, those avenues are covered.  When the kids have another route, an alternate method of communication and expression, in an actual arena they enjoy (athletics), the opportunity for truth and expression thrive and blossom.  Many, many times I've know I was in the middle of a talk that just didn't happen anywhere else.  On the field w the guys, there's an honesty, a genuine innocence that is often lost in the chaos of their usual adolescent lives.  Being an open and honest communicator can change lives.

3) Too many coaches/parents/teachers are too worried about being cool.  They want to be the cool teacher, the cool mom, the cool coach that the kids can swear in front of and talk trash about othe adults and be disrespectful.   
The level of professionalism has fallen off greatly over the last 20 years.  The things I've heard coaches say, my coaches never would've said, or at least not out loud or in front of us.  There's no place in sports for an adult coach to unnecessary profanity. Yes, there may be a moment where a very timely "bullshit," can help strike a point home, but this language should never be used as common communication.

4) Coaches love to preach about standards but few challenge themselves to raise their own.  I never understood coaches who preach living a healthy life while walking around 150lbs over weight.  I completely understand the issues involved and the struggles we go through, remember what I do for a living, I'm just saying this person shouldn't be the one running conditioning drills or making decisions for pregame dinner. 

5) A lot of coaches, coach with their "dad," on their shoulder or someone in their ear... Stop worrying about pleasing someone else and develop your own voice.  Don't be an imitation.  Be you.  If you succeed while perfecting your imitation... Will there be any satisfaction in that?
Trust me, I went through this.  My first years, I was a mix of myself w a good dose of my coach and it took me a long time to just become ME.  Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong, but it's me and I'd rather be wrong being myself than right being someone else. 

6) Dont be afraid to ask for help.  If you're in over your head, get help.  If you can't do the job, there's no shame in removing yourself or stepping back.  Again, this is a very valuable position, often w the responsibility of helping raise 10-100 young men and women, it's not your hobby, it's a profession. 

7) Don't encourage or promote macho, alpha dog bullshit.  Encourage empathy.  It's greatly missing in sports and in schools.  Your team, under your guidance can have a positive impact on the entire school and community.  Do it.  Make an impact.  

8) Knowing a sport well doesn't make you a coach.  Being great at screaming from the stands doesn't either.  You have to care for the welfare of kids and their future, not necessarily who they are now but who they'll be down the road.  If you have a great player, but his grades are aweful or he/she's in trouble off of the field/court, and you ignore that, you're not doing your job.   
Too many guys/gals are in the position to fulfill their own ego and not really doing the job.  In most cases I'd say "that's ok, you have to have the bad w the good," but not here.  The job is too important, I said at the top that's undervalued.  I know A LOT of people, I've read about 1000's of people that wouldn't be where they are without their coach stepping in off the field.
(To be honest, that's the spark that's lit my ass up recently.  I'm reading a book about a coach I forgot about... A coach I wrote off too soon... A guy that changed millions of lives, millions... Across the world, literally.  I'll write on this later).

9) It's not your hobby, it's your profession.  Don't just do it for the extra $3500. Don't just do it because you think it's cool.  Do it because your good, do it because you can reach kids and having value to offer.  It's not about X's and O's, it's not about wins and losses and playoffs, it's all about the kids.  It's about teaching life lessons while using these sports as our analogies. 
Both in coaching linebackers and training in the weight room, it's all about finding those parallels where i can draw lines between the now and how this will come into play in 5, 10, 2( years from now.  We talk about effort, finishing drills, paying attention the details, having passion and enthusiam, being a great teammate, being a great student, and having goals and vision.  Imagine how powerful this young student-athlete will be if they're mindful and practicing that above list...
Effort, finish the drill, attention to detail, passion and enthusiasm, great teammate, great student, goal driven.  That looks to me like the blue print for an awesome husband/wife, mother/father, business owner/employee, student/athlete.  
What I'm saying is, if all your time is wrapped up in coaching your starters to get that W and you forget all those moments with your entire team (ya coach, you need to coach the kids that aren't so good as well), then you're doing the school and the community a disservice.  
I've always looked at every coaching job as though I work for the families, the school and the city, because even though the paycheck comes from the board, the results of my efforts with the kids will effect everything they encounter now and in the future. 

Coach with:
Coach like it's your kid, your brother or sister.  Coach like your talking to yourself.  Teach them everything they'll need to know to be a successful, respectful member of this world.  
I have two daughters and I think "I'm effecting people that will encounter my daughters one day..." Think about that.  You're coaching kids that will deal w your kids or your mom or sister... What kind of impact are you having?