Not to be totally redundant here but last week I mentioned that I have begun listening to audiobooks in the evening to help me wind down and get to sleep. I recently listened to The Godfather written by the great Mario Puzo. In this story, the man known as The Godfather, Vito Corleone, is the patriarch of not only his own family but the entire mafia underworld. Throughout the story there was a recurring theme that came up regarding many of the characters in the book. That theme also happens to be the title of this article: “Every man has but one destiny.”
This theme has got me thinking...
If every man has but one destiny, what would mine be? I guess we have to look at whether or not an individual having a destiny is something that occurs in this world. Now, I am not going to get into whether or not the events that occur in our life are mapped out by a higher power because that, my friends, has been debated for centuries and I don't know if a definitive answer has ever been found. BUT, I will say this, every action and every decision that I have ever made in my life has led me to where I am today. The good decisions, the bad decisions, the people you come into contact with, all of it. It is like pieces moving on a chess board, where one move leads to another.
During this time at home under quarantine, I have been falling in love with my mornings. I have been able to get up early, read and write before everyone wakes, and get a little quiet time. Some days I get more time than others as my daughters wake schedule isn't always consistent. There are those days where I hear her talking to Marisa or the animals and other days I hear her yelling “Daaa-Daaa” from upstairs almost immediately after I wake. On these days, work becomes an afterthought. I then go upstairs to look at her smiling face and our morning begins!
As I watch her grow up, I think back to my childhood. Athletics and physical fitness were, and probably always will be something that interests me. The influence of having an older brother and going off to practice with him when I was 3 or 4 years old plays a role. In addition to that, my father was a bodybuilder as a young adult so we always had a weight room in the basement. In that weight room were pictures of guys that he admired. Men like Frank Zane and Franco Columbo who were not only great bodybuilders but also impressive athletes.
Moving on through my life, I became a fan of pro wrestling. I watched guys like The Ultimate Warrior dominate the competition and thought to myself that building muscle like Warrior was something that I HAD TO DO. Unfortunately, I did not know at that time the amount of steroids he was taking but my innocent mind believed anything was possible! Like Hulk Hogan used to say, "say your prayers and take your vitamins". I thought, if I did that, I had a shot to be as jacked as these guys. Most of my childhood "heroes" from wrestling are now dead due to the effects of the drugs they took during their wrestling careers.
As I grew up, athletics began to take over. I was obsessed with all sports and an avid card collector. Thousands of cards sit in my attic collecting dust waiting for the day that I go through them or give them to someone! I watched sports, played sports, read about sports, and studied sports. One of my favorite weekends was when the NFL Draft aired. I would sit for hours listening to men discuss the potential of future NFL players. Topics like the importance of the bench press, the forty yard dash, the broad jump, and so on. I did this for two days without any sign of boredom. If only school offered a class on this topic I would have been an 'A' student!
Upon finishing high school, I went off to college and decided not participate in a college sport. This, it turns out, was a mistake. Athletics provided structure to my day and without it, I was a bit lost. I struggled in college physically and mentally and decided to make a change. After a few years of not being involved in athletics, I had the opportunity to coach wrestling and I accepted. That, and the decision to work as a personal trainer while I finished school, were game changers in my life!
After a few seasons of coaching wrestling, I inquired about coaching football. At this time, I was watching 7-10 games per week. I was somewhat obsessed with studying football. I took notes during games, read articles, books, attended clinics, and anything else you could think of! My mind for the game was strong when compared to the average fan but when I started coaching and speaking with other high school coaches, I realized I wasn't as prepared as I thought I was. Watching games in the comfort of your own living room is a little different than dissecting a playbook and then understanding it in a way that you can teach the kids. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what you know as a coach. All that matters is what the kids know and are able to execute under the stressful conditions of a football game.
After coaching for 7-8 years, I decided to step away and move on. Then, after one whole season off, I was asked by a friend if I had interest to coach full-time again. I turned that down but offered to help him setting up a training program. I was back in the weight room working with the kids and this led the head coach to occasionally ask if I changed my mind regarding coaching. My answer stayed the same. But then one day an assistant coach notified him that he would not be able to coach the upcoming season. This happened in late summer which makes it very difficult to find a coach as the season is fast approaching. This coach also happened to coach the positions that I previously did. To say I was an ideal candidate for the position would be an understatement! I agreed to join the coaching staff and shortly after, the season began.
So I coached a few seasons and had fun working with the kids but I was missing something. I was working morning and night at the gym and coaching football which, at the time, was a 30+ hour weekly commitment. In addition to that, Marisa and I decided that we wanted to have a child and during that final season, little Emilia was in utero. I stepped away from coaching that year and thought that was the end of the road for me.
I spent two years away from the game and haven't watched much of it. In the rare moments that I would watch a game, baby Emilia loved it! Before she could put sentences together she would say "baawwll" and we knew she meant football. I couldn't believe it. She would go get her little chair, plop it down, and watch football on our television. I just shook my head. I guess attending a few games while in the womb led her down a path to fandom!
I recently got a call from an old friend and he asked me something that I did not expect. He asked me if I ever thought about coaching again? Truthfully speaking, the answer to that question was no. The last season that I coached football left me with a bad taste in my mouth and I was ready to move on. I didn’t even entertain the thought. I literally spent no time thinking about coaching and when asked if I missed it my response was always "No". Now as I reflect, I don't know how true that statement had been.
So, I had to make a decision. To coach again or not. I thought about this for 5-6 days but kind of knew in the back of my mind what the answer would be. It was a new challenge, a new opportunity, and something that got me excited to think about. In addition to that, there are a confluence of factors going on in my personal life that make this seem like the perfect time to get involved once again. You can call it destiny (or the inability to say no) but I am looking forward to the fall and getting an opportunity to work with some of the guys once again! Plus, I know my daughter is going to love the practices and the games.
As this pandemic settles down and practice is resumed, which is no guarantee, don't be surprised to see me back on the sideline once again!