It has been 15 years since that video came out, and in case I am showing my age, I will explain. There is a video on YouTube of a bunch of people playing World of Warcraft. They are all standing around talking strategy after strategy, calculating success rates, if they should attack, etc. Finally, one of them (Leeroy Jenkins) can't take it anymore and just says, "Guns up, let's do this… Leeroy Jenkins!" and goes in guns blazing. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a laugh.

I am writing this because I am sure most of you, myself included, feel that way right now. We have been analyzing data, scientific and non-scientific research, burned up phone lines talking to everyone and anyone to see what they are doing, and also getting guidelines from our prospective schools or employers about what to do.

RECENT: The Body of Work

You, your staff, trainers, and administrators have put together plan after plan after plan to try and do this thing right. You get stuck waiting even longer because most administrations want another school to pull the trigger and see how it goes before letting you start. It is maddening, but it is not a time for inaction. As Sun Tzu said, where there is chaos, there is opportunity. I believe that, and it is a great time to show your school what we have all known for years: strength coaches are organized and know not only how to put a plan together but how to implement it as well. These are the things administrations are looking for right now–leadership that actually works:

  • Volunteer to get on your school's committees for handling COVID-19.
  • Work hand in hand with your athletic director in making and implementing policies. It's time for strength coaches to get back some power, to get things back on track for coaches and athletes alike.
  • Make policies that not only benefit your athletes but also benefit you and your staff.

Here is an example. Maybe you have a head coach that always gives the old, "Just have him make it up when he can," when a player misses a workout. The second biggest pain in the ass, the "Gee coach, I am only free around 8:00 PM!?!?!" So, we have to punish ourselves or our staff because he couldn't get up? No more. With all these COVID-19 guidelines, we have specific workout times that we cannot waiver from. Make it a policy with your athletic director and trainers, and boom, one less headache in your life. If he misses now, it is on the coaches to make sure he's up, or they don't work out. This can also go for those coaches who like to throw the curveballs and switch things up, calling you saying, "Oh, we are going to have to lift before practice," two hours before practice is supposed to start. Nope. There are strict guidelines we have to follow, and we can't change up our allotted times.

It's a great time for us and those we train to realize that it is really a privilege, not a right, to use the weight room. That we are a group of people that care deeply about what we do, but we can't keep giving in to ridiculous demands. Set up dream scenarios of how you would love your job to change, and go after it with common sense and try to make it policy. Even if you get half of your suggestions approved, you are halfway there. Now is the time. This is something that had to happen to force change. This is a way for our profession to move forward, to cement our relationships with our trainers and administration.

Maybe they won't be so quick to let us go after a coaching change, or won't leave you out to dry when things go south. This is going on everywhere, and if we don't step up when we can, we will never move forward. This is the real battle we fight every day, and you may not even think about it.

Strength coaches are givers, caring about our athletes and what is best for them, but we don't care enough about what is best for us. Now is a great time. Whatever policies and procedures you have for COVID-19, follow them to a "T." It doesn't matter what you think, what you've heard, or your political views. Once the policy is in place, stick to it like glue. We are the first line of defense for almost all schools. We are the first ones in charge of students coming back on campus. Trust me. Everyone is watching. If a kid tests positive, and you were following protocol, then they will do what they have to do to protect that student. But if one tests positive, and you weren't wearing a mask because "I don't think they work," what do you think is going to happen? They are going to shut the whole thing down. With you being the only show in town, there is nowhere to hide. If you lose their trust, you can never get it back, and any traction you might have gained will be lost.

In all reality, we are talking life and death here if it hits the wrong athlete or coach. Let someone else make the mistakes, not you or your staff. Keep your distance, wear your mask, and take immaculate records of who, what, and which group players were in. The faster they can contact trace, the better. ALSO, make sure you are following the CSCCa and the NSCA return-to- training guidelines after a layoff. It was written for any layoff lasting more than two weeks, and our athletes have been off much longer than that. We have to be wary of the usual suspects: Heat acclimatization, sickle cell, rhabdo, and now COVID-19. There is not a better group of people more equipped to handle this challenge than all of you strength coaches out there. You have prepared for this moment. It truly is your time to shine. Guns up, let's do this! 

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