Anthony Donskov is the founder of DSC where he serves as the Director of Sport Performance. Donskov holds a Masters Degree in Exercise Science & is the author of Physical Preparation for Ice Hockey.
Friend, Coach, and Mentor: My week with Sean Skahan
I recently had the opportunity to spend a week in Anaheim California with a good friend and fellow Strength Coach Sean Skahan. Sean is the head strength and conditioning coach of the Anaheim Ducks in the National Hockey League. I was invited by Sean to work the Ducks 2013 Development Camp for young prospects and drafted players within the organization. To say this was a rewarding experience would be an understatement. The week was packed with “in the trenches” education, shoptalk and good old-fashioned chalk, iron and sweat equity. Sean’s presence in the weight room is a combination of passion and purpose fueled with genuine care for his athletes’. He is an exceptional floor manager and leader. These are just a few of the intangibles that make Sean one of the best in the business. I learned many things from Sean throughout the week from protocol to practice, but the true lessons I took with me cannot be found in the pages of a textbook. They are found on the floor, beyond the sweat, fatigue and sacrifice, they are found in the weight room-coaching athletes. Below are three important lessons that were reinforced during my stay in Anaheim.
1.) You are your environment: In training an organism will adapt to it’s environment. Strength and Conditioning facilities are NO different. The gym is our office! If your facility is un-kept, disorganized and scattered your setting that example for your athletes. The first day in Anaheim, Sean told me exactly how he likes his gym to look: clips placed strategically, bars placed in exact alignment among racks, blue mats stacked, benches inside racks, all equipment sprayed down and rollers stacked neatly. This was not Sean being nit picky, this was about setting the stage for excellence. It was about attention to detail. During my stay it was easy to see that this environment carried over into everyone that stepped foot inside the weight room. Coach John Wooden always said, “Small things lead to big things.”
2.) COACH! One of the biggest things I admire about Sean in his genuine honesty. Sean is a straight shooter that walks the walk. We had many talks about exercise science, HRV, non-direct stress, RPE and periodization, but it all came back to one point: COACH! If you want to be good at something you have to do it constantly. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t read, study, and attend seminars (I do all these things); it just means that you better apply. This is accomplished by coaching! John Wooden was a very articulate, well educated man, but his legacy will always be remembered by one sacred word: COACH!
3.) Pay if Forward: I will never forget this trip! The impact it has made and the unbelievable staff and athletes that I had the opportunity to work with during this time. It’s funny how life works! Never forget the good people that have helped you along your journey and pay it forward in the future. There are several Coaches that have helped shape my path and I am proud to say that Sean is one of them! I hope I can take what I’ve learned and apply it to my career and to our young interns at Donskov Strength and Conditioning in hopes of expediting the learning process and nurturing their future as Coaches. Thank you Sean and thank you Anaheim Ducks for a life changing opportunity!