Anthony Donskov

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A Letter to my Younger Self: The 23 year-old Strength Coach

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Dear 23 year-old Anthony,

I know what you’re thinking.  Dad’s been way too tough on you after all these years: curfews, lectures, obligations, priorities and a never-ending stream of discipline.  Take a deep breath and be thankful.  You’ll learn many years from now that discipline is love.  You will use these tools as a Coach one day to stimulate growth, foster trust and ensure you’re athletes are growing both physically and mentally.  Be grateful, for discipline creates structure, and structure creates balance and an understanding that there are consequences for every action taken….One day you will thank your Father for this. 

Ok 23 year old me!  Maybe you’re college hockey career didn’t go the way you planned it.  You may not realize it now, but being a recruited walk-on taught you how to earn things, how to embrace the grind, how to fight, claw and prevail.  It may take time, but you will come to realize that you cannot earn without sacrifice.  Nothing is given.  Being a walk-on sculpted your character, intensified your work ethic and made you the Coach you are today.  Looking back, you will embrace this journey.  Life isn’t fair, but there are two choices…give up or carry on.  When given the choice, you will always choose option #2….you will NEVER be outworked. 

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Please also remember that just because you played a sport doesn’t mean you can Coach a sport.  The fact is nobody cares.  I know, you’re 23 and know it all.  Truth is your experience is zero, and nobody wants to read your “new” book.  You will find out that the best classroom lessons come from real world experience.  You can’t bypass it, buy it, or copy it…you have to DO it.  Textbook answers only work for textbook clients, and you better hope the results are textbook!  You will learn that in school you do what you’re taught, and in the real world you do what works.  Experience comes at the users expense. 

One last thing, that old book the your Mother gave you several years ago, you know, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.  The one passed down by your Grandpa.  Read it!  Being a Coach is about being a master communicator, knowing your athletes, showing love and providing support.  The best Coaches develop an authentic interest in their athletes.  Remembering names is more important than remembering set/rep schemes and in the end; each and every athlete will leave your gym with a feeling, a conscious emotion of how you made them feel.  It is your job to spark that emotion; to keep it burning; to fan the flame. 

P.S.: Big arms, big legs and hallow heads don’t make good strength coaches.  Never judge a book by its cover…and those Muscle magazines, you know the ones with the guys flexing and providing “workouts”…most of those “athletes” aren’t natural.  I wish it didn’t take you so long to realize that a good training program must be sustainable.  Ok, I’ll let you go.  But in several years you’ll thank me for this wisdom. 

P.S.S.: Tell your parent’s that you love them more.  Time passes way too fast.

Sincerely, 

-Anthony 

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