The fastest way from point A to point B is NOT always a straight line.
I have been bombarded with emails, calls, etc over the past year from people inquiring how I got to where I am, what I've been doing before being given this opportunity and how it happened so early on in my career.
Being in the right place at the right time doesn't exist. I set myself up for success through many different experiences and here's one of the ingredients to the magic formula: I'm willing to move wherever and whenever I need to in order to set myself up to get the opportunity that I truly want. In the past 8 years since moving away from Omaha, I've made 8 major moves (lvining in a city for 3 months or more) and that doesn't include some pretty serious couch surfing that has been going on as well which adds another 6 minor moves (living in a city for less than 2 months. ) So, 14 total moves in 8 years.
When I speak with young strength coaches in the field, I get frustrated when I hear, "I don't want to move away," or "That is too far." Well, then be prepared to settle for a job or career that you aren't truly passionate about. You have to be willing to 'sacrifice.' But, let's talk about that word, sacrifice. I also get a little frustrated when young strength coaches don't have the forsight to know that sometimes you have to take 1 or 2 (or 10) steps back before you can take a giant leap forward. People only say the word sacrifice when they want to talk about something that they don't want to do... Why not view it as a learning opportunity, stepping stone, etc.
My Step Back:
Before I was hired with the Cardinals, I spent 11 months in Phoenix, (a long time for me). I had a master's degree and had worked for the St. Louis Cardinals and had to go back and work for free with Arizona State to get something on my resume in order to feel confident in my chances of getting a job back in baseball the next year. I waitressed and worked at a retail store to pay the bills. During those 11 months, I had no less than 8 different division I institutions who were interested in hiring me. However, they were for female sports positions. Women's soccer, track, lacrosse, water polo...all sports that you cannot find on my resume. Although it was hard to turn down these interview opportunities with PAC 12 and SEC schools, I knew that I didn't want to sit down at my desk and pull up NSCA's job website to start applying again. I knew that I wanted to be in baseball and taking a female sports job would put a dagger through that deam. I was convicted, stubborn and seemingly foolish at times. Trust me, it was hard to tell those strength coaches I wasn't interested, hang up the phone and put on my apron to go to work and pick up peoples' dirty dishes.
My Leap Forward:
After saying no to countless opportunities in the college setting during my year in Phoenix, I was beginning to wonder if I had made a mistake. In December, I only had a seasonal internship lined up with a baseball organization and had been turned down no less than 5 times due to my gender. It was looking more and more like I would be putting myself further in debt as well as further establishing my career as a lifetime intern. That's when I got a call from the Major League Strength Coach for the Cardinals...I went from waitressing one week to accomplishing my 10 year goal in the next...I'd say that's a giant leap!
My 2 Cents on Working for Free....
You never know who or what will turn into a job opporunity. Working for free is never really working for free. You are gettng compensated in the experience and the contacts. So many people that I interned with are now assistants, heads and directors in reputable strength and conditioning programs across the country. Not to mention the people I actually worked under and the sport coaches that would also give me a good reference. I tried counting and came up with potential references at 36 different schools. 36! And those are only the ones I know about with only 6 years in the field! Work for free, develop your coaching skills, your network and ultimately your opportunities.