Finding Your Passion In Life: My Personal Story

I started this blog because my colleagues at Endeavor have one, as a result, I understand the importance of them, as well as the relationships and contacts you can build through them.  But I also believe that words can influence people more than many things in this society.  Robin Williams put it simply in Dead Poets Society, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”  Consequently, I wanted to express how I came to care about athletes and why.

My athletic career, in short, was from the ages of 5 through 20.  From kindergarten until 8th grade I had spent the majority of my time playing soccer (club soccer).  As a young kid, I was also involved with basketball and baseball.  In high school however, I knew that my talents were in football and track. After all those years of playing soccer up until high school, how did I know I could make the transition to football?  Probably because after every football camp I attended with my dad, I would hear the coaches say, “Hey Al your son is pretty damn good at running routes and catching balls, he should be playing football.”  See, my dad has been a high school football coach for quite some time, as well as being a area recruiter in south Jersey for Michigan football for over 20 years.  So hell, I thought highly of my dad and knew that if he thought I had talent and the coaches around him thought I had talent…well damn, I must have talent.  However, my varsity high school career was pretty short.

Charles Woodson, my all-time Michigan favorite player

My freshman and sophomore years of high school, I can say with confidence that I was a pretty good wide receiver.  I always knew how to run routes effectively and efficiently(soft hands in football are hard to come by! haha). My freshman and sophomore years were pretty successful but the problem was that I did not LOVE playing the sport. I did it because I knew I would make my parents proud.  My junior year I decided to switch to soccer again (getting substituted 1 time the entire season for a total of 2 minutes, the least amount on the team). I loved it, but I knew my senior year, I had something special in football even if I did not love the sport (at the time).  The summer entering football season I knew I had to prove that I had talent.  What did I do?  Since my dad coached at Michigan’s football camp every summer (the largest in the nation at the time ; >1000 players in the nation), I decided I wanted to participate.  What did I find out?  Not only did I find out that I was pretty talented, but at the camp I finished as a top 10 receiver and I was talking to coaches from MAC schools (Bowling Green, Akron, Toledo, Miami of Ohio).  Coming back to New Jersey I was full of confidence for the upcoming season.  Two games into our season, I had solid games expecting an outstanding season.  But during the bye week, at practice, while running a route, I made a cut and something went wrong.  I broke my fifth metatarsal (my foot).  I did not participate until the very last game of the year, which I saw limited action.

What does this all mean for finding passion in my life?

Things happen for a reason!

When I look back on it, I realize the importance that event (breaking my foot) played in my life.  It humbles me, as a person, to realize why certain things happen in life.  Because if those things did not happen I would not be where I am at today and I am damn proud of it.  As a strength coach, it encourages me to try to help athletes succeed at something they enjoy and love to do.  Every athlete deserves to play a sport they enjoy/love without the incidence of preventable injuries.  Whether or not mine was preventable, in my opinion, is not the case.  The message is that many injuries can be preventable (the nagging ones) and it is our job as strength/athletic development coaches to read and learn as much as possible in order to prevent those injuries.  In essence it really goes back to what Mike Boyle (an experienced, smart strength coach) has stated as the few essential things a strength coach should provide..

  • First, we want to make sure that in the weight room, we prevent any injuries from occurring.  There is no reason why stupid injuries should occur in the weightroom.
  • Second, another main goal is to make sure that our training decreases the incidence of injuries on the playing field, court, or ice as much as possible.  Is this not what training should be about?  If an athlete is injured, they cannot play.
  • Third: Now our focus is on improving on performance.  Most programs philosophies focus from the outside-> in. Consequently, we build dysfunction on top of strength.  Injury prevention and increasing performance are complimentary.    Injury Prevention first<—–>Improve Performance second.
  • Improving performance and preventing injury are intertwined, Charlie Weingroff put it simply in the title of his workshop DVD’s: Training=Rehab,  Rehab=Training.

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