In the words of Coach Taylor, Founder and Owner of SMARTER Team Training…
So, you want to know more about how STT got started. When you get to the bottom of this write up, you may not believe it anyhow…
I was fortunate to work at the professional level in several major sports at different responsibility levels when I got started in this field. To be honest, it was overwhelming at times as a young coach. I was younger than many of the athletes I was working with in most cases. I then had the opportunity to be the head strength coach at my first NCAA Division I institution and absolutely dove all in. I enjoyed every aspect of that environment – the energy of youth, the passion for becoming better, the support a college campus has for their athletic teams. But after twelve incredible years at the collegiate level, I stopped and looked around at the stadium we were playing in and saw none of my family, friends or relatives. No one called me to ask how the teams were doing. They would randomly email to check in to see if I was still alive. I really put my job and the people I worked with in front of what was really important. As I brought up my intense work and travel schedule to my supervisors and coaches, there was really no sign of concern, sympathy, empathy, or plan to allow me to get back on track. So I started to question the approach I was taking with training, work, relationships, and many other areas of my life. I knew I wanted to make a positive impact on others. I knew I wanted to be a beacon for enthusiasm, and continue to be passionate about the field. I realized at that moment I had to leave the collegiate level, or at least that institution. The writing was on the wall.
It took me a while to wrap my head around all of what I was going through. Change isn’t easy… EVER! But I had to figure myself out, before I could help others. I had to make time for me and the things I felt were important. I realized that I was basing my success on the success of others, at the level of athlete or team I was working with, and the shirt I chose to put on each day. When someone says they are “nearly burnt out,” they already are. And I was “nearly burnt out.” I spent 12+ years helping others achieve greatness through victories, awards and contract extensions, and what did I have to show for it?
This is where the story normally ends. People become more interested in my background than what those experiences taught me. I have told the true story about how STT started only a few times. There are actually staff members that didn’t realize that SMARTER is an acronym for the programs we offer. For a full bio outlining my background in the field, CLICK HERE.
While working at Loyola College (now Loyola University Maryland), I was proactive about giving back to the field through speaking, presenting, having high school coaches watch our training sessions, hosting an annual strength and conditioning clinic, writing articles, etc. My supervisor at the time suggested that I get an LLC and run all of my off-campus content through a business. This is a similar approach to what typical college sport coaches do with player development camps, guest appearances, etc.
With his suggestion on a random Thursday I started thinking, and at the time I had no idea what this entire experience would lead to, but I knew I LOVED acronyms. Friday I started writing down all of the things that I knew I was involved in that could potentially make a positive impact. The list of things I was “doing now” was much smaller then, but my list of what those things “could become” was nearly five pages of typed notes. So Saturday was game day and I woke up like I do normally, early in the morning. My roommate at the time was in her room and said “Good luck today.” I can remember this vividly. I simply said “Thank you. I have something on my mind that I need some help with. What acronym would you use to describe a bit about what I do?”
Without hesitation, and with a tone as if I should have already known the answer, she said “SMART – Strength, Movement, Athletes, Reaction, and Teams.” So we started with that and this went back and forth from room to room. Then about 10 minutes later I could hear her getting out of her bed as if to start her day, but she ran into the hallway and yelled, “SMARTER Team Training.”
My gut said, “I don’t want to be known as a guy who claims to be smarter than others.” But she squashed that thought quickly with this message – “This isn’t about intelligence it is about how you approach what you do. You are meticulous with everything you do. You work with speed improvements, movement assessments, agility and reaction drills, technology is always being used at practice, education is what has separated you from the others I have worked with, and you are a strength coach so resistance has to be a part of your acronym.”
SMARTER is an acronym that defines the meat and potatoes of what we do at STT – Speed, Movement, Agility, Reaction, Technology, Education, and Resistance. The acronym hasn’t changed from that one moment on a Saturday in 2009. You can find more information on these fundamental elements of STT by CLICKING HERE.
Initially STT was an opportunity for interns to learn about the business and marketing side of the industry. They would write blogs, edit educational videos (that still can be found in the archives of our YouTube channel), reach out to potential sponsors, set up speaking arrangements, gather research/data for presentations, and on and on. It was a comprehensive experience when you take into account the amount of valuable learning that was coming from assisting with the implementation of a Division I college strength and conditioning program simultaneously.
From the days of one annual event and hardly being considered a business making a small, local impact primarily, SMARTER Team Training has become a training and educational business that teaches through hands-on learning opportunities; training of teams, players, coaches, and parents; consistently sharing strength and conditioning information from the best in the world on the website and through our social media outlets; to pictures, videos, articles, radio shows, and on and on. I can only hope that we are making a positive impact on the lives of others around the globe.
Shortly after leaving the collegiate level, I met an extremely kind man who coached a basketball team. He wouldn’t tell me their age. He just said, “I am sure you can help them.” What I didn’t realize at the time was that they would help me more than I can ever put into words. A silly group of nine-year-olds at the time showed me that it is okay to love those you work with again. Not a group of million dollar athletes, Pro Bowlers, Super Bowl Champions, World Series Champions, #1 draft picks, All-Americans nor All-World players, but a group of what would become an amazing team of young ladies reminded me what it was that I was so passionate about. Those nine-year-old basketball players made a profound impact on my life, and have been doing so since. It is simply amazing to think how far you can go or how much you will give of yourself if you know those around you truly care about you as a person.
This man and I sat down at a Bob Evans in Timonium, Maryland for breakfast and talked about the various business ventures that could come from what started as an opportunity to help interns advance in the field. I took thirty-three pages of notes during this nearly 90-minute breakfast. Many of these suggestions I still look back at today. Short-term goals, long-term wishes, “can do’s,” “will do’s,” and “should do’s” were just a few of the many bullet points filling up the pages.
Although I had spent years earning multiple certifications and degrees plus coaching at all levels of the profession… I realized that we were never asked to think as a business person. We were asked to fundraise, to work for the “love of the game,” and sacrifice more than most because your “players rely on you to make them better.” But at that very moment, I began to question everything I was taught about being a strength coach.
If we work with the players more than the sport’s head coach and assistant coaches, shouldn’t we be compensated for that time? Not to mention that I worked with MULTIPLE teams and MANY players at the same time. What was that really worth? How did my skill set benefit the players, coaches, parents, and administration that I had the privilege to work with? Can these same qualifications, programs, and values help people outside of the high level athlete?
My response was “YES!” Who couldn’t benefit from being stronger, faster, and healthier? Who couldn’t benefit from having a goal, and working hard daily to achieve it?
On that day sitting in a restaurant in a seat I am sure thousands of other people have sat in, I made a decision to focus my effort, passion and enthusiasm towards making an even larger impact on the lives of many.
SMARTER Team Training has given me the opportunity to continue to work with collegiate, international, and professional athletes. It has also blessed me with the honor of working with Olympians, Paralympians, high school and AAU athletes, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, grandfathers and grandmothers, fitness professionals, sport coaches, and MANY more.
I can only hope that this story inspires you! If you have a burning desire to help others achieve greatness, then chase your dream. Putting the success of others in front of your own can become an incredible story worth sharing.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about some of the history of SMARTER Team Training. It is a pleasure to share my story with you.
I hope all is well. Have a great day!