I've often heard people ask the question, what would you tell a younger you? This is a great question. I was thinking about this question as I read the letter our former president wrote to our current president. (In case you didn't know, it's a tradition for the outgoing president to leave a note for the incoming president.) Thinking out loud on social media, I posted the letter and commented that I thought it was a great idea and that we, as strength coaches, should do something similar. Someone agreed and suggested that I make it my next article, so here I am, writing a letter to the person who takes my job after me.

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Just for some background, I've worked at my current job as head strength coach for over 10 years. In our industry, that can be a lifetime. I've had some huge successes and some mind-blowing failures. During this time, my school has seen unprecedented growth and change. A few sports have had their greatest runs ever while others haven't had any success at all. So I've seen both highs and lows in my current position.

Without further ado, here's my letter...


Congratulations and welcome to your new job at this fine institution of higher learning! You will begin your career here very excited and ready to take on this new challenge, and I commend you for your new position and the passion that you must have to have reached this point in your career. This profession can be a very difficult one to deal with, and I'm hoping I can give you some advice that will help you as you move through this profession. Please remember that you're only the third head strength coach in the history of this university, so you join a small fraternity. I hope you can build upon what we have already done here and make your own mark while taking the department and student athletes to a new level of success.

First things first, do not let this profession or position define you. There will be highs and lows, and you will deal with everything and anything that you aren't prepared to deal with. Knowing that, this profession can be a roller-coaster ride. Please enjoy the fun parts, but don’t let the long, slow climbs sap your energy and enthusiasm. Remember — you will experience more significant moments and meet much more important people outside the walls of this weight room. No human has spent even half the amount of time in this weight room as I have, but I can tell you that when the job was done, I went home and learned (slowly) to not let the job define me.

If we haven’t met, you may be able to learn about me through my writing. I once wrote an article titled “Bring Your Passion.” I stand by this article and this idea. Bring your passion to the job. Learn when to turn the heat up in the room and learn when to listen. My biggest mistake was having the answer before I knew the questions. Avoid being a coach who tries to “fix” everything your first day. Culture should be tied directly to your passion, and while we have built a culture here, I can promise you that there are weaknesses in our culture. Don't discredit adding to the existing culture. Learn from what is already here and bend things to fit what you deem necessary.

The second lesson that I had to learn the hard way (far too often) is how to not fight battles that don’t need a fight. My father (who is my biggest mentor) once compared athletic departments to city-states. Everyone theoretically is on the same page, yet everyone is fighting for what is “theirs.” Remember — nothing here is yours. We are just the people who oversee our areas until we are replaced. Don't do damage to your department that will outlive you. Too often, I speak to coaches who tell me what is wrong with their departments, not what they're trying to do to fix the issues. I can promise you that we all have issues within our departments. We should be working together to improve our situations.

Finally, the worst piece of advice I was ever given was to remove negative people from your life. This is impossible! You will have to deal with negative people, positive people, and everyone in between. Do not allow people to take control of your emotions. A quote I return to daily is, “He who angers you conquers you” (Elizabeth Kenny). This quote says so much about how we have control over all that we do and think. The moment you allow someone to take control of your mind, you have lost the battle and will never get that moment of happiness back. So do not fight the unwinnable battles.

In retrospect, I am proud of all that I have done at my job and I sleep well at night. I will ask you to do the same. You will not always know what the right answer is, and sometimes you will fail. Knowing you will fail, don't be afraid to do something. I have failed on a daily basis at my job, yet I never let it prevent me from doing all I could for my student-athletes and my university. Do this and you will sleep well at night.

Image credit: Olga Belous ©