College Coach and Studio Owner

It has been so long since I have been here. Where to begin? I guess with this moment as the past will be represented by where I am now. Especially sinceĀ I finally know what I want to be when I grow up – exactly what I am.

I landed the job of my dreams without even knowing there was an opening or pursuing any position like it. I am the volleyball conditioning coach at St. Norbert College. The head coach also is the head of our areas high school club league (and 90% of my clients are club players). In this world I find myself in, he is a VIP and I avoid VIPs like the plague (keep your head down and do your work is my motto). So the day that name showed up on my phone was a strange and exciting day. Apparently by keeping my head down and doing my work, his club athletes have improved and parents speak highly of me. The college team needs someone to show up, show interest and show enthusiasm when training. Check, check, and check – with the bonus that I write great programs. The ladies are lovely. They show up, they show interest and they show enthusiasm – with the bonus that they work their butts off.

College team training is extremely different than 1:1 high school training and there was a moment I thought I would compare. There is no comparison. Marrying the two is truly enhancing both. I have two dream jobs and, if you know me you know how uncharacteristic the following is, I am damn good at them.

I am also opening my own strength and conditioning studio. What to describe it as has been a struggle (studio sounds so cardio) but as it will solely be for 1:1 training I think studio was the term to us. The Husband, The Coach, and I all sat down to talk and it was decided that the time was right. I had been looking for places for 2 years and we all agreed that if I wait for the dream to be perfectly revealed, I would wait forever. But if I start living my dream, I will be able to create my vision over time. Dozens of friends donated time on renovations, Coach is loaning me some equipment, and the Rogue rack/Ohio bar/bumpers are en route. I worry what the girls and parents will think of the space (it isn’t beautiful or shiny) but, after telling them, most girls squealed, one girl cried in excitement and gave me hug, and all the parents have said “this is just another reason we chose you to be our daughters’ role model”. I’m not really sure if their daughters’ took such gambles they would be this thrilled.

And yes, the gap of time has filled my shelves with medals and trophies from powerlifting. I still do my thing. But that isn’t my life anymore. These young women that I am so blessed to have in my life and I get to watch and guide as they turn into college women and medical students and strong professionals…well, that is where my life is.

Where To Begin…Again

My last post was 5 months ago. It is hard to believe as I used to be here daily, sometimes twice a day, that 5 months has passed. In the early months of changing coaches I tried but it seemed a blinking cursor and blank page would make me think of whom I had lost and I wanted and needed to be able to look at this blank page without tears.

I have competed a few times since then. The husband surprised me with dedicating a section amongst our baseball collectibles to display my trophies and medals. In case you don’t know, he’s one hell of a good guy.

I like my new coach. 15 months later and I still call him my new coach but 3 years from now I will still be calling him that. And I do like him even if I just did unfriend him on FB but I unfriended his wife and it didn’t seem right to do one but leave the other. I don’t know, The Husband doesn’t have social media so I don’t know the protocol.

In December I wanted a new program, I wanted a fun day, and he agreed but then I took it back – my hip has been near perfect (with proper care) and my squat was almost to pre-injury numbers so I turned down the fun in order to squat. Worst. Idea. Ever. I became a little over-stressed: the holidays, the need to be back in top form, I stopped eating.

I took January off from Coach to figure it out. I didn’t figure it out.

I went back to Coach in February and he said “so, about that fun day. Just try one and maybe everything will fall back into place”. It took 2 weeks, a couple of lectures, one cry, countless F-words, The Husband translating, but things are back in place.

On Thursday’s if (and only if) I complete all my workouts I get to learn Strongman events. I will never compete in that simply because I don’t want to but I have been dying to learn them since 2013 when my CrossFit career ended. It is insanely fun. It’s about as difficult as anything I have ever done, which of course means I love it. I haven’t felt like this since CrossFit. I get to clean and press again (and since everything is neutral grip my shoulder is pain free), I get to deadlift for speed, I get to walk around with heavy stuff. I get to think “you want me to what???!!!” a lot, and then I actually do it. I get to work my ass off (I’m still a worker) and accomplish things; on Friday’s I can’t move without a considerable amount of soreness and effort. This is who I am. This is what I don’t get in powerlifting. This is fun.

Last week Coach said I had to find a lifting partner. It was not an option. I don’t put myself out there. I avoid it at all costs. But I also do what I’m supposed to do so I asked 3 people. And, while I feel like it just confirmed I am the most unlikeable and awkward person in the world, I am told the fact that they said no is a testament of my love and dedication to my sport. When Coach asked how it went I said “The one thing Joel didn’t lie about was he’s the only person who’d put up with me” to which Coach responded “you are like me and I think people don’t respond to your attitude” thus ended his trip out the door to go home and my F-word laden rant began. In my defense, I have never had a bad attitude and even when I struggle, I have never given less than 100%. In his defense, that’s not what he meant (The Husband explained more later but apparently attitudes are not just divided into good or bad). Coach said that he and I are unique and people don’t want to be our partners because we do take it seriously and we work hard. People who aren’t 100%s -most people – don’t want to train with people like us.

Excuse me for a second just to note, everyone wanted me to be their partner in high school chemistry or on their team for group projects. I don’t know why this is different.

I guess his explanation made me feel a little better and later that night Coach sent a long email explaining people to me. I wrote a program which is kicking my tush. The Husband said if I could change my schedule, he’d be my partner one day a week, so I did. I added another day with coach and my other 2 days are at a gym where he said I would at least find a supportive group of lifters who would spot me if needed and the culture is better.

I did all my work this week so I get to have fun tomorrow! I have no idea how I will clean and press a log as I can barely stand up, bend down or raise my arms! But how many times did I say that in CrossFit? I always find a way. I’m a worker. It’s what I do.

Updates and a Most Special Day

I have been away for ages, without enough time to even read up on all my friends here. Oh, I can’t wait until Friday morning when I will curl up with coffee and catch up on what Patricia at Imperfect Reason has been up to. I miss my internet friend as much as an “in-person” friend I haven’t seen in ages.

I have been booked (over-booked to tell the truth) with athletes between 13 to 22. Apparently I am hit with the young lady athletes and I love every minute of it. Between training, attending their games, and managing parents, I am gloriously busy from 8am to 10pm and hold group sessions on Sundays; my poor husband. Sunday’s are done at our house and he didn’t sign up for a house full of girls.

I have 2 competitions before the end of the year. The first is “just for more experience”. Training has been great but in August I was already saying I was ready for a new program. After the first meet we are changing my program, even though the second meet means something. But I have many meets ahead of me that mean something and I am ready for a change now.

It is official: my hip is a labral tear. I will need surgery. But I don’t need it now and I want to achieve certain goals before I have to take a year off.

Coach made 3 grand announcements today.

The first: at the end of my max bench and he said “I haven’t told you but I will be at your next competition. I know you’ve said you don’t want a coach with you again but I’m going. I will let you figure out your weights and only advise if you are unsure about the 3rd lifts. I will point out any major flaws, I will yell “up” on the squat and deadlift and “push” on bench. I will direct your warm-ups. Otherwise I will stay out of your way. I want you to talk to the other lifters, especially the women, and learn from them.” I have to admit, I almost broke out into a cold sweat. When we started together there was an agreement, he would never go to a meet. I have, however, become close friends with his wife over the last 10 months and lift with many of his athletes who will all be there. “You’re there to learn. I’m there to help. Monday morning we get back to work”. I mutter “I’ve heard that before” and he replied “not from me you haven’t”. Well, ok then. “I think it will work”.

The second: at first I thought it was harsh but it is actually a great relief. I asked if he had ever witnessed someone drop weight as drastically as I have on the bench. “I mean, a year ago I got 215!” His announcement “I didn’t see it, it was called by a coach I would question, so as far as I am concerned it didn’t happen. Your max in my book is 140 and that’s all that counts. You’ve talked to The Wife about her bench and that’s why you’re incorporating some of her programming.” On one hand, I DID get 215. I don’t question old coach’s call but what a relief! I have a clean slate. How often does that happen in one’s life?!

The third: “The Wife and I have a business meeting at 4, can you come along?” Ooookaaay. I shifted a couple of appointments, rode over with the wife, rode back with Coach. At some point I thought my role would be made clear, and maybe it was, but my head is a little swirly. I can’t wait until I receive the all clear for that blog post.

On a personal note, September 30th is our 15th wedding anniversary. We are having the time of our lives! This past weekend we had a party and most of my favorite people were there (including some of my girls and their families). I am truly blessed in this life!

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My Miss NCAA Makes The News

I have so many drafts building up and no posts. But as I lay down for a nap I have to share a story about one of my girls (known here as NCAA). Here is a link to the newspaper article she was featured in (real name Sarah Johnshoy; she’s pictured in the center in blue). I was surprised to read my name in the bio. I’ve told her many times “I’m not that good, I just don’t quit. I’m always the underdog and that works for me” but the darn kid doesn’t listen, as you will read.

Socializing, Athletes, Deadlifts

Coach’s wife, it turns out, has a lot in common with me and we’ve become fast friends. We both are little lifters (she’s tiny); we both knit, can, read, former tennis players, on and on. It’s awesome after all these years to have met “someone like me”.

But there are two problems: 1) when we see each other we spend more time chatting and laughing than we do on our lifts and 2) I know way more about Coach than I ever wanted to know – and we both laugh hysterically that I didn’t even say hello to him for 4 years because I was terrified when in truth he is icky icky sweet.  A little intimidation never hurt mešŸ™‚

All my girls are back from their summer travels and sports camps. My CrossFitter started at the box on Monday…I felt like I was taking her to the first day of kindergarten and when she asked me to stay and watch I said “you don’t need me, you’ve got this! ” and smiled. I have to admit I’m glad it’s dark early now because I cried as I pulled away. Mostly because I’m so proud of her and partly (this is awful) my thoughts of “what should have been…” for me. I said to someone regarding loss: grief doesn’t get easier but it changes us, and therefore it changes.

My program has gotten a little off track and Monday it showed in my deadlifts. For the first time in 8 months my glutes wouldn’t fire. Coach and I reviewed my program and altered the accessories. We invented a new way to do hip thrusts. Returning to deads, weight still low, my hip flexor had so much pain I couldn’t stand up. Coach gave me the third degree, worried it was a repeat of my original injury, until I said “that pain is engraved into every cell in my body. It’s not that. I’m not injured.”

Later that night I was supposed to finish hip thrusts. And I did. Now for the comedic part: this morning I couldn’t walk. I crawled to the shower,  stood up, tried to lift the right leg into the tub, tripped, fell on the faucet, blood everywhere. I told Coach’s Wife I would need a crime scene cleanup crew for the house. The tiniest little cut on my knee did this. What could I do but laugh?

After all, my girls had returned with many hugs and exciting stories.  What’s a few days on ice when I have all that?


Beyond My Becoming


Iowa was the most rewarding trip I have ever been on. My CrossFitter went with me (middle picture), NCAA/Team USA Girl got bronze, and I caught up with a former athlete who is strength training high school girls and running triatholons.

My girls.

At the moment I am processing all the craziness of this summer, thank God for Coach who is the calmest most centered person I know besides The Husband. Home and lifting have been rock solid, peaceful places…finally. And Coach’s wife has become a great friend to be goofy with. I’ve missed being goofy.

My lifts are slowly increasing, as Coach said “not as quickly as you want but I’m happy” so therefore so am I. I would rather go slow, be pain-free and having fun than what I was before. I am becoming the athlete I want my girls to be. That makes me proud.

And let me repeat, I am – almost – doing everything I was before (not tennis) and am pain-free. Pain-free. I should have jumped ship a few years ago.

But if I did, I might not be who I have become and am becoming. And I’m turning out ok.

And my girls are turning out to be amazing!

Life and Lifting Is Finally Fun

Coach is making sure that I am having fun, not only with lifting but with life. And because of that, and in spite of the losses we have had, The Husband and I feel like this whole summer is a second honeymoon. We are hiking and swimming and Ā rock climbing and biking and running (short distances) and golfing. I have never liked golfing but as my injuries have permanently ended my tennis playing, golfing it is. And we have never had so much fun, so much laughter, so much love, before. All things I had been banned from doing before…even before my injury. I started some of these things on my own and one day when I walked into the training room a little more sore than I should have been, Coach asked what was up. I told him and said “so now I suppose my life is going to come to a halt again because training is more important”. He looked at me and said “ya know, if this is all you have, life is going to suck. And worse, this is going to suck.” “And I’ll go back to hating it and crying everyday.” “Yep. Your old coach and I have different approaches that way. Well, as long as running isn’t a marathon and you don’t play tennis ever again.”

Tomorrow night we leave for 5 days in the woods. The Husband and Coach like each other (that helps) and The Husband is rewarding my return to life by making sure I have a session with Coach before we leave and offering to come home early so I can be back before my deadlift session on Monday. I kind of feel like I have it all.

I am still not hitting the numbers I want but I am enjoying the process of figuring out the issue. It isn’t lack of strength and it isn’t my head (yay!!). Something just isn’t activating properly. Coach has made this lull incredibly fun. At the end of each session, if I haven’t met my goal, he throws a little fun time my way. So far we’ve had 9 reps of 225# deads as fast as possible with a time cap of 1 minute and I did it in 21 seconds; 6 reps of 245# deads in under a minute and I did that in 58 seconds; and the best one was yesterday: 235# deads 1 rep every 10 seconds, goal 10 reps…I got 8 and he called it on 9 for rounding my back. There was an audience. They cheered, I said I missed my goal and Coach, laughing, said “Hell, I set a pretty damn lofty goal. I am impressed.” These little endings are the closest I will come to CrossFitting again – they remind me of bits of CrossFit workouts and leave me with that same exhaustion and pride I always had after a WOD. Oh, how I have missed that joy – and it is absolute joy!

And apparently this renewed spirit is noticeable to everyone. If I had a dollar for every person who has approached me and said “your the person I remember again”…I wouldn’t be able to retire but I would be able to get three sessions a week with Coach.

It isn’t the roller coaster good and bad either. It is just a solid foundation of confidence and happiness.

And now to continue the honeymoon of a summer….