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Being a Strength Coach and a Family Man: Before and After

Blair Wagner
Aug 28, 2016

I can’t help but feel like Jerry McGuire, developing a conscience to write a “mission statement” instead of a simple blog post. I’m not trying to find out, “who’s coming with me?” so I’ll keep it short and try to find the exact 931 words to use in order to steal 5 minutes of your day.

Between May and September of 2015, I went from being engaged to married, renting a condo to owning a house, working as a volunteer assistant to full-time coach, along with substituting weekends of football with attending baby expos.

Life got real!

To say there were some changes is an understatement. And during all of those altering progressions in my life, I never once lost sight of my greatest passion in life –coaching. I just kept on living the lifestyle I always knew. THE GRIN- … I’m not going to say that word.

That was until I had the ultimate wake-up call.

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Prior to marrying my beautiful wife, Cam, there wasn’t much of anything that would stand between me and my pursuit of becoming the best strength coach I could be. I think we can all agree we’ve missed weddings, funerals, anniversaries, graduations, birthdays, and countless holidays in order to be around our teams and support the coaches and universities/colleges that we work with. Not to mention we can’t afford to go anywhere on our wages. To me, that’s what we signed up for. That’s what it’s all about, right? Spouses support us, parents understand it, and friends always forgive. But even if that holds true, is it worth the cost?

That question always used to have me weighing the pros and cons, and eventually yielded the same answer, yes. It’s absolutely worth it. Life before my wife, it was a unanimous decision. Not even close. I thought that would be my answer until the end of time. My wife, to this day, is the one person that made me recognize personal relationships are more valuable than coaching. Because of her, for the first time in my life, I chose a person in my life over a position in life.

This past January we welcomed our first-born child, Bremer, into this crazy, beautiful world. He has completely changed my outlook – and estimated time of arrivals – with everything I do. He has given me a much bigger purpose in life that goes beyond being the coach I’ve always wanted to be. I GET the opportunity to be his father and impact his way of life on a daily basis. Talk about long-term athlete development!

When speaking with one of my mentors and good friends, Adam Feit, he put into words what the biggest changes he has seen through the years of building a family while continuing to progress as a coach.

“I’ve definitely had to reevaluate my priorities and values in life. For many years I kept pushing and pushing to try and put myself in a better position for success. And at most times at the expense of others. When you develop a family of your own you realize that there becomes a tournament of priorities. When you say you don’t have time, you’re really saying you don’t want to. But when you say yes to something, you’re really saying no to something else. Being a husband and a father has forced me in a good but uncomfortable way to really evaluate where I am needed and valued most.”

Sound familiar? I probably should have asked him this question seven months ago. He’s wise beyond his years.

I’ve read countless articles that preach about getting started in the field, obtaining an internship, and how to prepare for your first full-time position. But I don’t remember reading anything about how marriage, children, stress and the demands of life will impact your coaching career. Maybe they’re out there but I never thought to look.

I want coaching to be a part of my life for as long as possible. In order for this to happen, I knew there had to be changes.

I no longer linger in the office hours after my last group reading articles, answering emails, shooting the shit and getting in that last minute workout. Those days are over. I figured out when to get “my time,” during the day because it’s family time when I get home. Regardless if I’m tired after a long day, I find the strength to play with my son, and the emotional energy to have meaningful conversations with my wife. I try to have athletes contact me via email if possible and I continually remind myself that no text from any coach or athlete is more important than the two people with you right here, right now. I come home and put my phone in the bedroom. I check it and respond only after Bremer is asleep and if my wife is indulging in another episode of Million Dollar Listings. My social media game is non-existent compared to most coaches. I see post, after post, after post from some coaches and I know damn well they don’t have kids. If they did, at least 50% of them would be about their family. Go follow Coach Todd Hamer on Instagram (@toddhamer1). Tell me what you see. His son. He gets it. And you bet your ass I double tap every one of those posts.

I have no longer allowed myself to be completely consumed and controlled by coaching. I don’t eat this stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner like I used to. Macro cycles, PR’s and Eleiko bars are no longer circulating in my mind 24/7.

Time will tell if I will be able to continue my passion of coaching or become a statistic in the field like hundreds of others. Right now, I’m blessed and very fortunate. I get to work for an incredible institution with amazing coaches who value people. Without them, this isn’t my dream job. If that ever changes, then it’s time to pack the bags and move on.

I love coaching. I always will. That is one thing that will never change.



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