Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Paying Dues

It used to make me laugh when I was a head strength coach at a university and wed get someone interviewing for an internship or a part time position and they would tell me how they wanted to be full time real soon at a university or that they wanted to be a head strength coach in college within the next few years.  They would say all of that until I told them what the pay was for their position and what the full time coaches made in salary. Their eyes would get real big with amazement. Unless you are at a huge school and the head guy, you ain't making shit. I wanted to tell them how I and my graduate assistant coaching friends paid some serious dues years ago. For my first year of coaching, I got paid nothing. I was the assistant defensive line coach and assistant strength coach. For the next few years, I got paid for 19 hours a week, minimum wage, while routinely working 80 hours a week. I was the defensive line coach and head strength coach for football and in charge of taking care of all football fields. The most that I made at that school was 520 dollars a month. Even when I left and went to high school for a few years, my top pay was $27,000. I thought I was rich.Then to Charleston Southern University for a whopping $17,500. Then onto Penn where I first made $17,000 and no benefits as an assistant with 33 sports. I could have qualified for welfare, easy. At least for milk and cheese. 

But so what, right? All of it was my choice. I could have gotten a job with a suit and tie and 9-5 and all that, but I couldn't even fathom it. Life without coaching? No thanks. I'm just trying to point out how everyone should make sure that when you start coaching, make sure that you are doing it for the love of the whole thing. If you don't love it so much that you are willing to live on store brand Doritos and Hormel chili for weeks on end and steal Copenhagen up your sleeve just so you can walk onto the field or weight room and teach athletes and try to get them better or make just a little difference in their lives, maybe it's not meant for you. SCREW THE MONEY! Money don't mean shit when you have your buddies with you and you are trying to win and the kids get all pumped up on squat day and you can feel the excitement/tension in the air during max day.  And on game day in football? Right before the kickoff? You will never feel more love for coaching than at those moments

I remember one time in 1992, we were playing in the national playoffs when I was coaching defensive line. The clock was running out and they were fourth and goal, and if the other team scored they would win, and my defensive tackle , who was half crippled with knee injuries , chased the quarterback down from behind and saved the game. I couldn't stop crying when I tried to address my guys after the game, I was so damn proud of them. It is fucking magic when you love it that much. And those moments live with you forever.

And then you get that note from the kid who thanks you for pushing him in the weight room, or one one of your kids gets signed to the pro's or becomes a Ranger or a Lieutenant Colonel. All coaches who love it so much have those type of stories. 

And money and titles cant replace any of it.

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a year...it's for life. Whether its training or your family or your job...it doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.