“Where do you want to be in 3-5 years? 5-10? The end of your career?”
This is a question that we are asked time-after-time, whether it be from a potential employer, or in the case of a young strength coach, from one’s parents, wondering if their son or daughter will ever make a real living. Personally, this is a question I’ve contemplated frequently over the past few years, with each flip of the calendar seemingly leading to a slightly different answer. However, over the past few months, something changed – I know my answer to the question. But first, how I got there…
At the start of grad school, I would have told you that I wanted to be an NBA strength coach, because basketball was my passion, and the NBA, of course, was the pinnacle of the sport. After my first two semesters, I thought I may want to work my way up the college ladder and become a director. Leaving grad school, I was a bit more uncertain, but felt the pull to “specialize,” in something, so that I could more closely focus my attentions on one area or in one sport. Now, as I come to the conclusion of my current position at the University of Louisville – which has been anything but a specialized position – I have found myself chasing something far different than a title or position…
My answer to the $1,000,000 Question: I have no idea WHERE I want to be in five years. But I do know what I want to be doing, who I want to be doing it with, and why I’ll be doing it.
You see, in a world ever-so-focused on extremes, I think we can all live in the gray a little bit more. Fact is fact, and science is science, but where the interpretation & implementation of these two things comes together, of course, is in the art.
Though I’m still young in the game, I’ve learned from my first few years that my long-term fulfillment in this field will come from the relationships that I build with the athletes, colleagues & coaching staffs that I work with. Do I care about winning? Absolutely. Do I want to build the strongest, healthiest, most robust athletes possible? Of course. But I’ve found that, for me, my greatest purpose will come through pursuing these duties as an S&C coach by building & sustaining relationships with those around me. Whether this is at the private, professional, collegiate or even high school level seems more irrelevant than ever. What seems to matter more now is the people I’m doing it with, and more so, the principles, values and beliefs that the employing organization lives & dies by.
Sometime last year, I was thinking of an appropriate quote to put on a new training card for one of my teams. At the time, the whole “process > outcome” philosophy seemed to be exploding. It was old news to me, as I had been “trusting the process” as a long-time Sixers fan for years. Nonetheless, a line came to me that has since stuck with me, so much so that I keep it at the bottom of my email signature. It read…
“The reward makes the journey, but the journey makes the man.”
Now, I know this is a close derivative to plenty of other inspirational one-liners; I may have even subconsciously stolen it from something I’d previously read. Point being, there should always be an end in mind, a “best-case scenario” that we have to build towards each day; but to think that this end, this best-case scenario can’t be fluid and ever-changing based on our experiences now seems silly to me. I am not suggesting that we should not have goals & dreams; of course we should. But I believe we must remain open to how our path may potentially shift the specificity of those goals & dreams.
To bring things full circle, I am very honored, humbled and fortunate to say that I will be moving on from Louisville Sports Performance to take a position with the Los Angeles Dodgers in their minor league system. While I have cherished my time at Louisville and in the collegiate realm, I have continued to feel the pull to sharpen my scope of focus a bit closer. Do I know for certain that I want to stay in professional baseball for the next 5-10+ years? I’ve never been there, so for me to say yes would be wishful and also irresponsible. However, I do know that pro ball will offer me an environment that, at least right now, will best suit what I am looking for in a position, both logistically and tactically. I can also say that the Performance Team there, and organization as a whole, matches perfectly with the principles and values that I hold dearest. For right now, that’s all that I need.
To any fellow & current interns, GAs, or young coaches reading this – my advice is this: get as much diverse experience as possible, as early and as quickly as you can, so that you may more readily make decisions on your “specific” career path. That may not mean you have it figured out before age 30, but the faster you can accumulate hours generalizing, the more quickly you can determine if & what you may want to specialize in. Embrace the grind. Enjoy the ride. Trust the process. And don’t forget that people always come first.
Who is Chris Hays?
Chris believes in building robust athletes & people through holistic means that is built upon the strength of the Coach-Athlete relationship. He received his undergraduate degree in Exercise Science from Slippery Rock University, and his graduate degree from George Washington University, while serving as a Graduate Assistant in the S&C Department under Matthew Johnson. This past year, Chris served as a Performance Fellow at the University of Louisville under Teena Murray in Olympic S&C. Currently, he is preparing to begin a new role in Glendale, Arizona with the Los Angeles Dodgers in their minor league system. Chris can be reached by email at email@example.com.
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