Recently I've been on a self education streak. In a month I went to 3 different seminars/certifications/conferences. Maybe I'm actually turning into a Strength and Conditioning Coach? The most recent was the High Performance Athletic Development Summit at Athletic Lab in Cary, North Carolina. The whole weekend was filled with a huge lineup of some very notable names and presenters.
In reflecting on everything from the weekend, it was humbling to realize how Young and Dumb I am. It felt like everything went over my head, and that everyone else in the room was way out of my league. Like I said, Young and Dumb is an apt description of how I felt (I'm also fairly certain I was among the 5 youngest coaches). But a few things also did sink in for me as a coach that have definitely been eye opening:
1. I've probably made the biggest career mistake I could
In college, a lot of Strength and Conditioning departments take student volunteers to serve as "interns". Essentially, these interns clean equipment and serve water. Being someone who wanted to learn and have hands on experience, I decided to coach weightlifting at CrossFit gyms, train my own athletes, and study on my own. This mistake has proven to be a foot that I'm constantly chewing on, seeing as volunteering with an S&C department at the collegiate level isn't about getting much experience, but making connections. (I also understand that every Coach treats interns differently, because some do truly try to educate and give their interns a great experience.) Everyone knows someone else, and that comes into play when starting conversations and in the future hiring process.
2. The big name coaches are some of the nicest people
There was a lot of very experienced and popular coaches speaking at this conference, who presented on a huge variety of topics. Dan Pfaff, one the best Sprint coaches in world was the main speaker, and watching him interact with others and answer questions with everyone during the breaks regarding any of the topics he'd covered. Bob Alejo, whose well known among coaches, came up and introduced himself to me as if I didn't know who he was. Another seasoned coach who had experience teaching Speed and Agility gave me his card when I told him I worked with youth at a Speed School, and told me that if I ever needed help to shoot him an email. Every one of the experienced coaches in the room were like this, which as a young coach, definitely helps ease the pressure of being around big names.
3. Everyone has something to learn, and good coaches admit it
I'll adamantly confess that I know very little. If the amount of knowledge out there is an iceberg, my knowledge is an ice cube (the soft little cubes you get from Chic-Fil-A). But it was great to be talking with another young coach about things going over our heads, only to have one of the presenters turn around and agree with us, admitting that some of it was going over his head. Not only was that reassuring, but it helped open up conversation starters for the rest of the weekend, because it helps level the playing field.
These are just a few quick reflections on that summit, although of the few conferences I have been too, these were not unordinary observations. I've noted this in several different conferences and events over the past 2 years. But for some reason this one conference seemed to help open my eyes to who I am as a coach and what building a career in coaching is likely to take.