As the youngest of three boys, I had no choice but to compete. If you wanted a certain something for breakfast, you better get up first to make sure you get some. If you wanted to play PlayStation, you need to get to it before anyone else did. While often ending up on the losing end of those daily competitions, growing up having to fight for what you want fostered a strong work ethic and fear of losing out. This turned into a love of sports pretty naturally and early on. From age 6 or 7 until the end of high school I was always playing 2-3 sports a year and was lucky to develop some pretty good basic movement skills as a result.
I also loved to snack, and as the youngest in the house I was able to get away (or atleast not be seen) snacking at will. I would often polish off an entire sleeve of Oreo’s before bed. It got ugly. I started my freshman year of high school standing 5’10” and weighing over 220 pounds. I had played soccer up to this point, but the thought of enduring the required running at my size was unbearable, so I made the natural move to football. Much better fat kid sport. I dove into the football program head first. I made every team lift, run, and practice, and held on to every word of advice and coaching I received from our staff. They encouraged me to get as big as I could, because I had the frame to carry it. Great news for a fat kid! My cookie intake remained steady for the next 18 months or so until I weighed a greasy 285.
I didn’t want to stop there. My goal was to weigh 305. I thought this would be an attractive size for college scouts looking for big bruisers. I was having success on the field, was improving in all of the evaluations our team had, and was receiving accolades. Life was good! I was offered to play football at D-III Gettysburg College, a drop-off in competition compared to what I thought about myself, but I was excited nonetheless. I thought I would have just as much success as I did in high school, but despite the perceived ‘lack of talent’ on the team, I was one of the least physically prepared players on the roster. I couldn’t believe it!
I did all of the required and extra work! I never missed a practice or team function! I felt so humiliated and like I had wasted so many hours of my life. I also felt betrayed by what I thought was a productive and sustainable long-term plan. I foolishly blamed my coaches for not considering my long term development. Then again, neither did I, and you have to be accountable to yourself. I ended up leaving the football team, discouraged and no longer motivated.
This was the same time during your college career where you start to narrow down your focus in the classroom, and begin to take on professional internships. Never losing my love of sports, I became curious what an ideal training program for a youth athlete would look like. I was inspired by my own story to look for an optimal blue print that would best prepare young men and women not only for their upcoming season, but provide the foundation to continue improving until they call it quits. I took on several internships with sports performance facilities, physical therapists, athletic trainers, professional football teams and collegiate strength and conditioning departments. I spent two years working almost exclusively with children, providing me an outstanding appreciation of movement basics and how young athletes develop. I was fortunate to learn from some of the best coaches and professionals in the world, and was also able to see what attributes were required for performance at the elite level. I have seen rehabilitation strategies work wonders on preventing future injury likelihood, and have seen certain injuries disappear completely through sound training principles.
I’ve benefited a lot from my variety of experiences, and am hoping to make these elite level practices available to all youth & recreational level athletes, or anyone who is just looking to feel better and move more. I cannot make any promises on anybody’s success, becoming an elite level performer takes years of intentional work as well as many more variables outside of anyone’s control, but I do believe everyone deserves to be armed with the best knowledge and strategies backed by research in their quest to accomplish their goals, whatever that may be.