My Path to Becoming a Coach
"Ambition is the path to success, persistence is the vehicle you arrive in."
- William Eardley IV
Growing up in a small farm town in Illinois, sports have been a part of my life since as early as I can remember. High School basketball season was a very close representation of the movie Hoosiers, about a small town Indiana basketball team on their run to a state title. We never stopped playing...football season was first, then hoops, then baseball/track. Oh yeah...then summer baseball/basketball juggled with a full-time plumbing and heating assistant job. As "college/what do I want to do when I grow up?" thoughts started coming around, I figured I would try out physical therapy. My senior year in high school, I worked at a local office as a PT Aide. This was an unbelievable experience that I probably wasn't even close to mature enough to have, but Scott Schaber, a local coach and physical therapist trusted me and provided the experience. That is were the it all started.
I decided to attend Carroll University (WI) as an exercise science major and play wide receiver on the football team. At that time, people were basically thinking ok...CJ is going to play football, but what the heck is exercise science? I didn't really know either, I was just going with what felt right.
Fast forward 4.5 years, two elbow surgeries, 1 year elbow physical therapy, hundreds of 6am lifting/conditioning sessions, countless friendships, and memories because of the place I choose to attend for school and play football. I wouldn't trade a second away. Also, as class and my college experience went along, I decided I wanted to work primarily with healthy athletes though a strength and conditioning roll.
Now what am I getting at? Throughout the 10+ years of middle/high school and college athletics I have been coached by some of the best coaches in the world and some that probably shouldn't be coaching. Coaches that frustrate you, yell at you, inspire you, and push you to do unbelievable things. What could I do to be everything I liked in a coach, but also be educated and skilled enough to gain respect in the field? After doing some of my own research and talking with coaches and professors, I decided I needed to go to graduate school to get more experience while expanding my knowledge base.
I then stepped into a whole new world of major college sports at the University of Louisville. My head was spinning, I didn't even like school that much and now I'm in grad school? I wanted to get in and out of there quickly and actually find a job. All my friends were making money and I worked for free. I met Teena Murray, the Director of Sports Performance at U of L through a class she taught. I really wasn't supposed to take this class yet, but found my way in. I had an absolutely terrible interview with Teena, I was nervous, and really didn't know what I was doing, but she gave me a shot! I was now an intern in the sports performance department. Big time...see you at 5:30am tomorrow. Oh man...
This went on for almost two years. At the weight room at 5:30am preparing for team workouts, graduate school workload, and a job coaching middle school volleyball players at night. I loved it! I was very tired, but I loved everything about what I was doing. The University of Louisville only reinforced that I am a little crazy, but I love to coach/teach kids the process and lessons they need to learn through sport, to help them succeed in whatever they end up doing.
During my time at Louisville, I developed a big interest in a company called Sparta Science in Northern California. I think I emailed, LinkedIn messaged, and probably even found them on Facebook. I finally got and interview as graduation was around the corner. The timing could not have been better for both parties. Phil Wagner, the Founder of Sparta helped me really develop a why. He got into coaching to help athletes have a better, less injured experience/career than he had. That resinated deep with me, as I had a very similar experience. I learned and grew as a coach there more than any other place I had been previously. I want to thank the people at Sparta that helped me figure out my path to where I am now.
I am still figuring things out and probably always will be, but I want to thank everyone who has touched my life along the way so far.
Big shout outs!!!
Scott Schaber - Galena Illinois
Brian Edlbeck & Jason Roe - Carroll University
Teena Murray - University of Louisville
Phil Wagner - Sparta Science
As always, have a wonderful week/end and I wish everyone the most success. Let me know if I can help anyone that might need some advice. Email anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org