Not many truly understand what life has been like for college and professional athletes over the past year. Many had seasons completely canceled, scholarships pulled from lack of funds with a new recruiting class coming in while still keeping seniors on a covid year, transferring here and there to get an opportunity to play, and even trying to decide if it might be time to hang it up or not. For the athletes that have still been chasing their dreams throughout it, we get you and can't thank you enough. Your passion is contagious. This is what draws fans into the game. It doesn't matter what sport or level, when an athlete is passionate, people take notice.
I might not be an athlete myself personally anymore, or have had to walk through the same struggles as them this last year, but I have felt every single part of it. As a strength coach, you get close to athletes. As a friend of theirs, you get even closer. Being on the inside, you start to see the little patterns that they don't even recognize within themselves. Guys watching their swings from practice that day in the middle of a party, other athletes nearly forcing teammates to come train since they have gotten better from the training personally, being willing to drive 6 hours a week or even 12 hours a week for quality training and training partners, the JUCO stories of people having to sleep in their vehicle at the facility because of lack of money for gas to get back and forth, fracturing your back and having to learn how to pitch to still be able to play baseball, it's all their. The desire to be great shows.
Sitting in our facility over the last year, months, and even weeks with these athletes, you can't help but start to think of it all. Placing yourself in their shoes, trying to figure out what you would be thinking if you were them. Every single rep is another shot at one day telling everyone, look, I made it. The intent behind the rep. The intent behind the swings and pitches in the cages. The intent behind the extra field sessions, extra shots put up at the gym, practicing takedowns after team practice. The mental reps for the playbook. Every single one of those screams out, I made it. Being around these guys watching them perfect the craft, you can't help but start to feel it. It becomes a part of you. Your waking moments involve trying to figure out how to help them more; who you need to talk to for connections, what tweak in a lift could help them produce more power in their sport, what you can do personally to try to keep motivation high.
For a lot of athletes, college will be the end of the road for their athletic career, but for a few it is just the start of something even bigger. I've been told to not care as much about athletes missing training or people not showing up, but I cant help but be that invested when I see just how close some guys are to truly getting there. Something special happens when the flip switches, and my goal is to see that flip switch with as many athletes as possible.