FROM ATHLETE TO COACH:
Twenty three years ago I found myself lying face down on the football field with no feeling from the neck down. My mind screamed to get up and hustle back to the huddle but my arms and legs lacked the ability to respond. After days of rehabilitation and evaluations, I knew I had a difficult decision to make. Looking back today, never in my wildest imagination did I think my decision to quit playing the sport I love, and start coaching it, would lead us all to the beginnings of East 80 CrossFit.
A PASSION FOR STRENGTH:
For over twenty years I coached various sports at the high school and junior high level involving both boys and girls. And while I enjoyed the challenges and countless hours of breaking down film, constructing a game plan, and planning practices, I started to acquire a greater passion for developing athletes through strength and conditioning. Like constructing a home with a solid foundation, I thrived for the opportunity to build the biggest, fastest, most explosive athletes I could. I spent countless hours researching and educating myself in every aspect of training (I still do to this day). Sure it was fun to win games with good athletes who already possessed God-given athletic ability. But nothing compares to working with and training athletes who go from never stepping on the court or field, and on to winning that district, state, or national championship. Like the saying goes, “Games are won during the season, while Championships are won in the off-season!”
THE IDEA: ISI PERFORMANCE
Around six years ago, while I was running the summer strength and conditioning program at Crandall High School, I had a handful of graduates who were moving on to play various sports in college and desired to continue their training with me throughout the summer. This permitted me the opportunity, not only to start implementing various small group strength and conditioning strategies unsuitable for groups of 30 or more, but to start training myself. Utilizing components of training from MMA, HIIT, strongman, notable garage gyms from around the country, and my current strength program, our results were unarguable! To this day I can recall the exact moment, between sets of tire flip gassers, when one of my athletes (Emily Atkins: 2 time state champion and collegiate all-american) said, “Coach, you should open your own gym!”. So the seed was planted and I began to research starting my own garage style training facility.
WHERE CREDIT IS DUE:
I began following two of the most successful strength coaches in the industry, Joe DeFranco and Zach Even-Esh. Joe and Zach gave countless hours of free advice on starting and running a successful garage style gym. I even made the financial commitment to fly up to Edison, New Jersey in 2010 and attended Zach’s “Underground Strength” certification course to learn more. For two years I searched for the right building, location, and opportunity when one day I made a left turn on Pacific Street in Forney, Texas. There sat the building we have been leasing for the past three years now. I called Coach Aimee and said, “Here it is, let’s do this!” Aimee never questioned or doubted my vision or ambition to start our own business and I have to give her credit for doing most of the administrative grunt work. While most people in this world are quick to judge and doubt your dreams, Aimee believed in my coaching abilities and was by far my biggest supporter. Of course money was the biggest issue. Liquidating funds from my teacher retirement account, we had just enough money to pay a years lease and order a few pieces of equipment. Training began in the summer of 2011. Aimee started a boot camp session at 5:00 a.m. while I had one athletes session in the morning, and a “meatheads” session in the evening. With around 15 committed members, we were doing business as ISI Performance.
This past May we signed the fourth lease on our training facility doing business as East80CrossFit with over 70+ active members we consider family. We have gone through countless renovations and growing pains throughout the years. People have come and gone while we still have members who were with us from the very beginning. My primary motivation for writing this blog was to let you know how truly blessed Aimee and I are to have the opportunity to be a small part in each and every one of your lives.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct your path. Proverbs 3:5-6
It is evident to me that God had a plan the day my football career ended and my coaching career began. What will East80 look like another three years from now… who knows??? But what I do know for certain is that God is working through East80CrossFit and the future looks bright!