I recently had lunch with my former football strength coach Charlie Grande. We discussed football, training, and life. I always know that if I need anything, I can turn to coach. I learned a lot during my time at Lackawanna College but the most important lessons I learned were about myself. During the off season we would workout at 5:00am and at the time it was brutal. Like most college students, I would have preferred sleeping until 12:00pm and beginning my day at 1:00pm. Little did I realize at the time, that these little struggles would become big lessons that would teach me discipline, the value of pushing myself, and that my coaches saw something in myself that most didn’t.
It has been almost 15 years since I last put pads on at Lackawanna but I still keep in close contact with Coach Duda, Grande, and the other coaches who have built a nationally recognized program. The reason that they are one of the country’s elite football programs isn’t by accident. The emphasis was always to push yourself on and off the field. Being good was never enough when you went on the field. We had to be the best. We had to be the best conditioned, possess the most skill, and better prepare ourselves than our opponent. Coach Duda was a former University of Maryland standout who later went on to play for the St. Louis Cardinals. When he told you to do something, there wasn’t any second guessing. When you are sitting across from a 6’3 270lb person who looks like he could knock you into the next zip code you need to comply and that’s what we did. He was able to mold many athletes from different states, social class, and ethnic groups and teach them what it took to become a champion. Many of us became not only champions on the field but also life. Our players went on to the University of Miami, Maryland, Florida, and numerous division Iaa, II, and III colleges. We have gone off to becoming NFL players, business men, and hall of fame athletes in our respective schools. We were able to do this despite coming from humble backgrounds.
- If you’re going to do it, do it well
- Embrace challenge, challenge is what makes you stronger
- Get up and get after it. You will get knocked down, but you always get back up.
- Whining doesn’t get you anywhere, hard work does.
- Hit the books as hard as the weights. You will use your mind your whole life.
- Expect the best from others and they will give it to you.
- Give Back and then give some more
- Have pride when you sign your name on anything. It is an indication of who you are.
I have a lot of thanks to give to many people and these coaches are at the top of the list. When I was in my late teens I didn’t have a lot of people who believed in me outside of my immediate family. That changed after I went up and played at Lackawanna. I was able to learn what it took to not only make an impact on the football field but also in life. Today I look forward to working with Coach Grande at my training camps. I know that he always brings his “A” game regardless if he is working with his players or if he is pushing my athletes through drills at our different camps. It’s this give it your best mindset that has enabled countless athletes to build better life’s for themselves and become the best they can be.