A recent Twitter thread that had consisted of listing 3 facts about me and then tagging 5 other strength and conditioning coaches inspired me to write this piece. It was really neat reading what others had posted on the thread. I like to find out more about friends and colleagues in the profession.
Although I am hesitant to write and share stories about myself, I hope that the reader finds my story inspiring. I am a big believer in that things happen for a reason. I also believe that life is full of decision making and there are many forks in the road along the path.
Like everyone else in the world, my life is full of them.
I grew up in Quincy Massachusetts. It is a blue collar town that includes pockets of tight knit communities. For me, growing up included having many good friends who stuck together. It's also a community where people work close to home in their careers. Police officers, firefighters, plumbers, painters, carpenters, electricians, and the postal service are the professions of many of my good friends.
When I originally started college, my plan was just go to school, work part time, and play football. I loved the game and didn't want to stop after my high school playing days. Eventually, when I was done with school, my plan was to pretty much do what everyone else did. Get a job, and eventually live my life in Quincy.
My college life consisted of going to school, playing football, and working part-time as a bartender so I could go out on the weekends. As an athletic training major, I realized that if I was going to continue to play football, I wasn't going to be able to complete all of the observation hours and finish college in 4 years. I switched majors to Exercise science where the curriculum was geared towards the ACSM health fitness instructor certification.
I stumbled upon an NSCA journal in the UMass Boston library. I remember reading that journal and then realizing that strength and conditioning is a profession. I loved training as our football team was doing the Nebraska Husker power program at the time. Also, a professor named Avery Faigenbaum had just arrived and he started a strength and conditioning tract in the department. Dr Faigenbaum was only at UMass Boston for a short period of time. Luckily, I happened to be a student while he was teaching there.
When it came to picking internships for my last semester, there were 4 places to apply to- the athletic programs at Harvard University, Boston College, Northeastern University, and Boston University. I applied to Boston University because the name Mike Boyle was the contact person (fork in the road).
Why? Mike was the guy who I saw on the news working with athletes such as Cam Neely and Mike Mamula. Those were stories that I followed along as a Boston sports fan. I applied to Boston University where I got the internship. Mike had just left and I had the opportunity to work with Glenn Harris (who is still the Director of Strength and Conditioning at BU). I did work for Mike the following summer at Sports Acceleration North- now MBSC.
When I look back at these great moments and learning experiences, I was still the guy who really didn't want to leave my hometown.
At the time, I was also applying to work for the US Postal service as a letter carrier. My father was a long time employee of the postal service and it helped provide my family with a great upbringing.
I actually got deep into the application process. I took part in the initial meeting, the urinalysis test, and then got the invitation for the final interview.
I remember it as clear as day as I waited in a line that was a few hundred people deep. After an hour or so, I went and met a nice older woman who was sitting down wearing a blue dress and a pair of thick-rimmed glasses.
Her: “Says here that you have a degree in exercise science”
Me: “Yes ma'am I do”
Her: “Well what are you doing here then?”
I paused for a few seconds and said “You know, you're right. Thank you.”
That is when I decided to become a strength and conditioning coach. I also realized that the profession didn't consist of simply going to the Boston Bruins or the New England Patriots and knocking on the door and getting a job. It meant that I would probably need to consider opportunities outside of my comfort zone.
I sometimes reflect upon what would've happened if I didn't listen to that nice woman at the Boston mail facility. People come into your life for a reason and opportunities present themselves. You just have to be willing to take a risk.
Strength and Conditioning Coach- Minnesota Wild
Author of Total Hockey Training