Letter of Termination

C/O 2017

17 2nd Millenium St.

My life, Here and Now

 

Dear 2017,

I can truly say I may owe you one. You’ve served a large purpose as Life Coach. I know I am walking away so much stronger, solely because you didn’t kill me. There were times I felt I was at the lowest of lows. Shortly after, you showed me it could be far worse.

You’ve taken people out of my life that I love, and inserted several people that I do not. You’ve awoken copious insecurities and fears through various scenarios. You showed me Bumble dating. Enough said there. Typically in this situation I’d tell you you’re horrible and to hit the bricks. I still may like to, however I believe through many instances of hardship you so kindly provided, I have grown past that level of impetuous speech. A thank you is also in order.

Thank you for showing me how strong I really am. Thank you for waking up my soul. I know I’d had a few things shut off for a while. Because of you, I learned that pain, while taxing is a necessary evil. How will we feel good if we never take the risk required to get there? To remind me I was capable was something for which I’m grateful.

You brought me through career changes, struggles, fights, moves, injuries, and newfound trauma. I’m still here, 2017. Despite your constant showering of nonsense. Despite re-introducing the feeling of rejection into my life. I know you were helping. You showed me it comes in many forms in all parts of life. You showed me that well distressing, that feeling is not lethal.

You reminded me that trust should not be taken for granted. You showed me what it was like to have my trust mistaken and you tested my capability to trust others. Through your own twisted ways, you showed me I was ready for anything. You presented situations that forced me to instantaneously develop upon and navigate. You taught me how to still go into work every day even when I was so mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted I didn’t think I could get out of bed.

Unfortunately, though, 2017—we won’t be spending any more time this way. I’ve been meeting with 2018 to make plans to go in a different direction. It’s not you. I know you’ve worked so hard this year strengthening me through the consistent valleys. Your methodology and rigid execution just aren’t things I’m subscribing to anymore. This is not a good fit going forward.

2018 and I are looking to move in a direction of positivity, self-love, and confidence. We’ve discussed new beginnings, strength, and consistently moving in the affirmative direction. I really like the things 2018 has to offer. As a result, 2018 will be taking over your position effective immediately. I do appreciate your hard work; however, it is no longer needed.

 

Best of luck in all your endeavors,

Meg Keller

Chief Executive Officer of My life

Here and now, and in the future

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“So will you move closer to your parents?”

The Sun, palpating with its brightness was rising to fill my city with its light. I couldn’t help but stop and stare. This is my home. This is my safe-haven. When I look at this particular view, I am brought to a standstill. My thoughts, normally fleeting, are halted.

I can’t put my finger on why or how this phenomenon came to be. The only thing I have gathered is that I moved here in a time of hardship. Zach and I had endured some obstacles you do not imagine or foresee when you get married. I basically asked him to run away from them with me. Sometimes you just can’t handle being in a place that you affiliate with your darkest hour.

So we ran. We ran far, and we ran fast. In the beginning it didn’t help. I still had night terrors. He was still worried and angry. Time of course assisted in the healing. As did making healthier choices on how to deal with my fear and anger.

This time around there is no traumatic event or problem. There are only questions. And fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of losing a part of my identity of which I was once so proud, fear of failure, fear of regret, fear of loss of control.

I am a bit of a control freak. One could argue that is a large reason of why I’m here now–25, divorced, and lost. I had the entirety of my 20’s planned down to the month. I was so hellbent on sticking to the plan that I pushed him away. Knowing that something I didn’t plan was still something I initiated and executed to its fullest is the source for half of my anxiety. The other half? It’s that fear I mentioned.

So here we are, full circle. I ran away here because I was scared. Now I’m here and have never felt more petrified. There’s one defining difference though. Me. These years in Raleigh have brought me growth. While I still have so much more work to do, I feel stronger.

My family members have all asked me if I’m going to move back home to be close to my parents. The thing is, my parents don’t live in the same places, and this is my home.

There is a certain view of my city by my apartment downtown. It overlooks the skyline, but not only that. It has railroad tracks, lumber, and steelwork all going on in the forefront. It’s a little bit of Cleveland if you will. One may speculate that it is all clutter; I think it’s character. When I look at it I see where I started upon arrival—messy, chaotic, rough, broken. That alone makes me smile. Those were not the only things I was, nor is that all the view is.

It’s whole, beautiful, and ever-changing. This city truly is my safe-haven. When I look at it, I see…me. I see my potential, my strength, my love. I am not even close to my best self, but every time I look over that bridge, I want to become her. It gives me the courage to strive for improvement. It gives me the courage to face my fears. There’s no place I’d rather be.

 

“#Blessed”

I was sitting in Chapel with the kids on Friday, and I heard something that stuck with me. “It feels good to feel blessed.” Earlier on in the day all I kept thinking was how I had some unexplained feeling of euphoria all day. I felt good. I felt like things were falling into place. I felt loved by all of the amazing people in my life. I felt happy.

Happiness is not something I’d expected to feel at this point. I’ve gone through some unexpected life changes. (see Wanderlust) They’ve left me questioning quite a few things. One thing I have yet to question a single time is how amazing my friends and family are. I’ve written this several times already. I just don’t think I’ll ever voice how grateful and fortunate I truly am. This version is about the closest I’ve come.

Mom and Rick (some parts are only applicable to my mom)- thank you so much for helping, loving, and supporting me unconditionally. The phone calls, snapchats, random care packages, etc. have kept me going. Thank you for passing absolutely no judgement, and being such a great gal pal. It’s been great to have someone that’s known me all 25+ years of my life to talk through this all.

On the note of knowing me through the entirety of my time walking the Earth or in utero, I’m brought to my brother, Clint.

Clint- you get me, better than anyone else. We’re crazy, loving, and so often misunderstood or forced to stifle our personalities. I can tell you anything. I can tell you how I’m feeling at any moment and without a doubt in my mind, I know you’ve felt the exact same thing. Thank you for the random, yet so perfectly timed text messages. Thank you for always talking to me the way you do. You without fail, have always made me smile since the day I was born. “BIG PIMPIN. We back, baby!” I love you to pieces. Thank you so much for all you do. ❤

On the note of getting me, I have some incredible ladies that I’ve got to bring up. So in no particular order, here we go.

Ashely- you’re the only one who understands me going through this while being at school and cringing every time I hear, “Mrs. S.” Thank you for not only being there each and every school day, but for being my best friend outside of school. Thank you for helping me move, redecorate, and for coming over all the time. For the countless snapchat conversations about things only you or I could ever talk about in the way that we do. Thank you for the laughs, the love, the adventures, the memories made, and the ones still to come. Just thank you. I love you so so so so much.

Linds- girl I don’t even know where to begin. You’re my everything—my best friend, soulmate, twin while also being a baby sister, while also taking care of me the way a big sister would, you’re the love of my life. I honestly don’t think there are words in the English language to accurately describe our relationship and its astonishing vibes. We say we’re twins because we’re always thinking identical things. The fact that you have understood and been there couldn’t mean more. From the bottom of my heart—thank you. Thank you for probably running red lights and speeding (which you totally shouldn’t have done, young lady!) to get to my house in twenty minutes, only to find me sitting on my couch…listening to my vow renewal song, looking at the pictures and touching the sand from the beach where the ceremony was held. Thank you for putting together furniture with me at 3am and making numerous Walmart trips. Thank you for having a standing Tuesday date and for randomly eating tacos on the floor. I love you to the moon and back. Twice. D.P.’s in recliners girl. D.P.’s in recliners.

Alyssa- girl where do I even start? Thank you so much for being an extremely hard-working, coachable athlete, an incredibly fun teammate, and an even better friend. Thank you for my so thoughtfully purchased bottle of Maker’s Mark. Thank you so much for the Girls’ Night(s) Out of my life, and the amazing girl talk about alla dat coffee! Thank you for always checking on me. Being at the gym with you is amazing. You’ve got great taste in music, and in superhero attire! 😉 I love you girl. I truly value you on so many levels.

Catherine- thank you for meeting me on $5 burger night, for the most creative ICE gift, lifting sessions, brunches, afternoon meals/beers/whiskey shots on patios, and just all of it and all of you. You’re a freakin boss. Love you, you strong strong lady.

The gym has been such an amazing place for me. I’ve been so lucky with all the friends/loved ones I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and being around.

Brandon- thank you for checking on me, sending me hilarious memes, making jokes, and coming over only to help me run errands all day and keep me company. You’re a large part of my life, and I love you so dearly. I know you don’t care for when I get mushy! It still needed to be said. You’ve been not only a wonderful and cooperative athlete, but a true friend. You are the definition of a “stand-up guy” and I’m not only proud to coach you, but honored to know you.

Randy (and Penny and Hazel)- thank you for checking in on me, talking me through the ins and outs of being single in my mid-twenties here in the City of Oaks, listening endlessly, and sending me the most amazing and fitting memes and prose. Thank you for my favorite housewarming gift that I’ve ever received. Thank you for abandoning your Easter plans to come day-drink with me. You’ve been better to me than I could’ve ever hoped or dreamt. The “dad hugs” have helped a lot, as has you understanding when I randomly suck in training or getting just as hype when I PR my vertical. Must’ve been that morning coffee.

Dad and Tracey- I’ve started this numerous ways…here’s what I thought was best. Thank you for the comic relief, and constantly reminding me who I am and just what our name means—basement. We Kellers start at or often are knocked to the bottom. As any other strong breed, though, we fight until we find ourselves at the top. Like the relationship you taught me to have with inclement weather when I was learning how to drive in a Cleveland winter (read: 6-8 months out of the year in Cleveland), Kellers do not fear hardship, we respect it. It makes us better, and so while we don’t hope for it, we welcome it. Thank you for constantly showing and telling me that. The consistent texts and facetimes reminding me that I’m a strong and powerful woman have helped so much. I am beginning to show it, and believe it.

I love you both.

Mrs. Hamilton- Thank you for all the talks and advice. You have been such an incredible example to me. You reminded me that there is no reason not to handle this with beauty and grace. God is good, and He does not make mistakes. Remembering that has made all the difference. You’ve been like a mom to me and I appreciate it in a big way.

Robbie and Kim (and Charlie & ‘the group’)- Thank you for forcing me to go out so I wouldn’t be home alone with my thoughts and sorrow. Thank you for adorable snapchats, kind words, check-ins, advice (even if I may have been a bit non-receptive), and just love in general. Y’all are wonderful and I am so happy to have you in my life.

Alex- I always thought you were just the d-bag I argued with about sports, and smash in cricket. Those things alone, have helped distract me. There is so much more, though. Thank you for picking me up and putting me back together. Thank you for reminding me that beauty is subjective, but something quantifiable like intelligence is cherished, and yet often overlooked. Thank you for always demonstrating that you not only don’t overlook my mind, but even appreciate it. Thank you for reading every single thing I write, for helping me prepare for my talks at schools, and for getting a pump with me before polaroids. Thank you for being an awesome partner in crime on those nights, for celebrating with me when my appetite came back (read: looking away while I slam a taco before watching the draft), and for being hilarious and supportive as hell.

You’ve been an amazing friend through all of this. The long talks, walks, and umpteen ounces of bourbon have been the very things I look forward to come Saturday night. You’re always on my page, from when you’re hungry or want to head out on the town, to your taste in music (for the most part…), to your love of sports. I didn’t imagine the guy I’m constantly talking smack to during baseball and basketball seasons would turn out to be someone so kind and selfless. I don’t think I’ll ever truly be able to describe the magnitude that you’ve helped me, nor will I be able to put my gratitude in words. So I’ll stop at this—thank you for the incessant amounts of “babysitting shifts” and coffees. You’re a douche, whose antics and company, I don’t think I could’ve made it without.

Thinking and reflecting on these people has had me feeling overwhelmed with love. This isn’t even everyone in my life. This is [more or less] my “Raleigh family”. These are the people that have shown me that blood or not, family is family. You show up for one another. It has been indescribable, the amount of ‘showing up’ that they have done for me. I don’t think I can ever explain the feeling I began describing at the beginning. It’s just this warmth and happiness that takes over your whole body. You could feel like absolute garbage, and yet still be so unbelievably happy because you know. You know that you have a support system that’s unmatched. You can feel the compassion all around you.

They say if you have one real friend that you know you can count on, you’ve been blessed. I have more than that. I don’t know why or how these things in my life are happening, but they have opened my eyes to the people around me. Like Mrs. Hamilton has demonstrated, God does not make mistakes. For the first time in my adult life I actually recognize this feeling as #blessed.

Wanderlust

I feel like at this moment in time my appearance is that of a young woman at the beginning of a movie. Sitting on the beach, looking off into the horizon, lost in a feeling of wanderlust.

This trip was supposed to clear my head. While it did allow me to self-explore uninterrupted, somehow I feel more confused than ever. I think I was supposed to come here to escape my feelings of negativity and self-deprecation. And yet, they’ve been magnified. I haven’t escaped them in the least. Those feelings haven’t left or been masked. I suppose that’s for the best. I’m honestly not sure.

As I look off into this beautiful scene I find myself feeling not hurt, not ashamed, not embarrassed, but aloof. I couldn’t tell you why. I can’t begin to describe the panic and anxiety I’ve found myself facing lately. I came here expecting to “get away” and to truly develop an understanding of a monumental change currently taking place in my life. To a degree I’d say I’ve found a thing or two that I was looking for. I’ve found acceptance. I also believe, however, that I’ve experienced extreme amounts of depression and loneliness on my way there. Acceptance of a vast change in one’s life doesn’t mean peace or happiness by any standards.

My husband left me. He said he doesn’t love me anymore. He is still my best friend. He wants it to stay that way. I believe in my heart of hearts that it is possible, but not right now. No, right now, I can’t really be around anyone.

This acceptance I have found comes at a price. I may be paying for it for the rest of my life. The cost isn’t necessarily quantifiable. It’s a feeling…or lack there of. As a result companionship and comradery are almost worthless.

I found myself crying in public last night. Classy, I know. During the experience of understanding at what will come of my future, I realized something. I realized that those feelings while warranted, might not actually help me. The pain and fear won’t show me how to be alone. In fact, they may encourage me to make the wrong choice. They could push me to try to not be alone. And for what? I like being alone. It’s partially why my marriage failed. Space is too important to me. That’s the one thing I’m continuously reminding myself. Space is something I always wanted.

That part I can stomach. In the grand scheme of things, though, I cannot. So I do what I do best–feel nothing. The pain is too much. I’ve tried so so hard to face it. I just can’t. The realization and acceptance is more to the notion of him leaving and not coming back. I will not lose my best friend. I just may lose a life partner and messy roommate. There are worst things…like dating in 2017. I have absolutely zero interest in that.

This trip has given me not only the time to panic, but time to reflect. I know that this is for the best. Somehow, that translates to acceptance. But I don’t know how to do this. That translates to anxiety. Then there’s the feeling of rejection. I’ll spare you the details on my baggage, but just trust me. I have major fear of rejection issues. And the fact that the man in my life that always loved, supported, and wanted me told me those feelings have dissolved? Well heartbroken doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction. Devastation is an understatement. I love him. I love us.

As I watch the waves continuing and adapting I suppose I have a feeling of familiarity. I can carry on and live my life. I can rise and fall and rise again as the tides do. For a while it will be emotionless, because that’s all I can handle, but I will do it. I’m currently sitting up, gazing at this beauty just one last time. As I say goodbye to my great escape, I am saying hello to my journey. This unintentional path that I will travel. I know now wanderlust isn’t a feeling I’m lost in. It’s a feeling that found me.

An open letter to my coach

Dear Randy,

Years have gone by; and I have had no idea how to say what I want. I suppose it starts with the word “thank you”. Thank you for sticking it out with me. Thank you for countless programs. Thank you for employing me when I walked away from a job I never belonged in in the first place. Thank you for helping me feel loved. Thank you for making me your special cinnamon rolls and bringing them to me the day I missed my flight to go visit my [biological] dad in Hong Kong. Thank you for bringing me meals at work that fit my macros when I was on the most brutal weight cut of my life. Thank you for singing with me in the car. Thank you for holding me while I cried, thinking my career in weightlifting was over before it even began. Thank you for helping me through a very personal, odd treatment for my SI joint. Thank you for putting arnica oil on my back, when I was in an unfortunate, non-weightlifting related accident. Thank you for always being there to listen and not judge. Thank you for having my best interest at heart, no matter what.

I honestly will never have true words that express how grateful I am for you. Not just for the coaching, teaching, and healing, but for showing me that a man that has no blood invested in me whatsoever, can love me as his own family. I never realized I was a valuable person and professional until you came into my life. I know my family loves me, but the thing is, I always had it in my head that they have to. Whether that’s true or not, that’s how I feel. Without you teaching me that people choose to care for me, I never would’ve realized I was worth that. I never would’ve understood that I am a human worth loving, whether I’m related to someone or not.

I’ve grown so much since you took me under your wing. I came to you a weak, hurt, child. I had no idea who I was or what I was here to do. You showed me that I was strong, and that deep down, I didn’t care what people thought. I am a strong woman. I am damn good at my job. I deserve to be in the classroom, the weight room, and the training room. I never would’ve had the confidence to know and chase my dreams without you.

When I talked to you on the phone the first time, I was looking for a purpose. I was a washed up athlete, a model turned ‘fat’, and an unhappy housewife running away from her problems. I never thought I would be who I am today. Today, I am strong. I have purpose. I am an athlete again, in my mid-twenties. I am a teacher. I am a coach. I am a healthy, self-loving woman. You helped me find that. You helped be that. You helped me remember who my parents raised me to be. You helped me grow. You are not just my coach. You are not just my boss. You are not just my “surrogate dad”. You are not just my family. You are so, so much more. I honestly don’t know the words to describe what you are, other than Godsend.

I don’t know why or how I became so fortunate to have you in my life. People will say they have coaches that are like fathers to them, but I mean it. I was lost. I was self-destructive. You saved me. You reminded me that I am worth fighting for. We forget to fight for ourselves. Thankfully, you showed just that. I never would’ve realized that I was worthy of that fight. Somehow, you found a way to show my stubborn self. Thank you.

I don’t know much more to say, other than there were days I didn’t feel worthy of life. I truly didn’t understand that I was here to become who I am now. I felt like a shell. I thought I was to get thin again and just be that shell. Wear the clothes I was instructed to, walk the places I was supposed to, hold my head and pose the way they wanted me to. I had no idea there was more.

After an incident in my life, all I did was drink and do drugs. I wanted to lose myself in the abyss of feeling high and “having fun”. I told myself I would never let someone make me feel like I couldn’t be myself and let go. What I didn’t realize was I wasn’t myself at all. I was becoming this party girl to prove a point. Let me tell you- this party girl wasn’t me in the least.

It took me a long time to realize I wasn’t myself. It took a long time to realize I was hurting the person that, I, deep down, was destined to become. I never would’ve realized that on my own. I also would’ve ignored that if people tried to tell me. Thankfully, you knew how to get through to me. You knew to “bro out” with me and let the chips fall where they may.

So again–thank you. I will never be able to express all of the things you have done for me. But I have tried to at least explain the magnitude to that you changed my life. Words cannot describe, but dammit I’ve tried. I love you to the moon and back, Coach. Thank you for everything. I hope so much that one day, I have half the impact on a kid that you’ve had on me.

Norb

The Internship (Part II)

I was fortunate enough to work with athletes of the following sports:

Women’s soccer, women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s lacrosse, men’s basketball, men’s football, men’s wrestling, and men’s baseball

But this post is mainly about my experience with football because this is the field I received the most resistance attempting to earn a spot as an intern.


My day begins at 3:34am. My alarm goes off and I jump (read: swing legs over and sit double face-palming for approximately 20 seconds before standing) out of bed. Being early is more important than a few extra minutes of shut-eye. I have too much to prove. At this point sleep is the equivalent of an accessory exercise. I have to do it, but I rank almost everything else higher on my list of priorities. The thing is, the lack of sleep doesn’t even phase me…not really. I have an internship I love, and it’s impossible to forget that I may not come across another one like it. I leave my house by 4:15am with the contents of my life all jammed into a backpack.

Everyday I leave my coaching internship and go to my coaching job. I get home around 9:30pm and prepare my food and clothes for the following day. I am in bed asleep by 10:30pm each night. Five hours and four minutes was sustainable for the Summer thanks to excessive amounts of coffee and sugarfree monster. I didn’t claim to be the healthiest, but we all sacrifice something to get a job done. For me, it was my pristine urinary and kidney health.

During the week, I’m either working or driving to work for over seventeen hours per day. It’s worth it. I coach at my gym all day on Saturdays as well. On Sundays I try to spend time with my husband and rest. I won’t lie, if this weren’t just a Summer gig I may enjoy it less, but only because of the constant burning of the candle at both ends. My body did start to give me the finger for sleeping minimally and frequently overdosing on caffeine, taurine, and guarana; however, I powered through. I mean shoot, these guys I’m working with all Summer? They have jobs, Summer classes, practices, workouts, etc. and I don’t hear them saying they’re tired. I refuse to be any different (read: weaker) than them.

There were only two work days in the entire Summer that I wasn’t at the Burt Family Sports Performance Center by 5:10am. One day both of my headlights were out, and the other I had a prior engagement—being hospitalized. I used to be late to everything. One day, I realized there was no room for that in the real world. There is always someone hustling harder. In this circumstance that wasn’t my only motivator. It was also what I knew was coming.

The weight room is a special place. The football weight room? Well, that’s a whole different animal. To me—it’s a sanctuary. The music, the yelling, the trash-talk, the way everyone gathers around on a PR attempt, the blood sweat & tears, the overall atmosphere. It’s my kind of place. Prior to weight room things begin on the field. At 5:30am we’d meet in the director’s office to get our assignments. We set up for warm-ups and conditioning, and then set up the weight room. By 5:58 the end zone was filled with giant, athletic, energetic men.

I would get a chance to know and work with most of these men, but first there was an announcement. Two of the coaches circled all the guys up and introduced the interns to the team. They were firm in saying we are to be addressed as “Coach (insert first name here)”, and they aren’t to say anything to us that they wouldn’t say to their current coaches. At this time, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel over half of the eyes on me. That’s good, right? It was good.

For the days to come the whistle would start precisely at 6am. On every blow the guys do air squats and then jog it out. They continue through dynamic warm-ups. That was hugely informative in itself. I’ve never seen a more seamless warm-up. The conditioning workout for each day following was executed equally as efficient. Going into the weight room was a quick process, so as not to stop the momentum. Almost instantly, I was not looking in on this charged weight room. I was a part of it. Those guys made me a part of it. They joked with me the way they did with the male coaches and interns. They listened to my input. There were a handful of players that would approach me and ask me to watch their sets and how to fix certain technical errors. One in particular said, “No. Coach me. I know you see something, and I know you know how to help me fix it. I don’t want to just hear ‘good job’ ever again.” I will never forget that.

There was never a single problem with players of any sport treating me differently. I credit that in large part to the coaches. If it’s established that there is no room, it will not happen. In my opinion, that says a lot about the characteristics of the leadership. Those other schools that were so worried? It certainly seems to me that that was the case because they couldn’t be professional towards me either. We know that is true in at least one case (see They kept telling me there was no internship (Part I)). Honestly, I’d typically say it makes me sad for them. They missed out on a hardworking and passionate intern. In this case, though, I will not say that. I have no room for emotions like pity. That’s on them. Passion and determination already occupy majority of my emotional threshold. I am confident that showed this past Summer. What I put in was well rewarded with knowledge and top-notch experience. Knowing what I know now about the coaches I worked for, I wouldn’t trade my experience there for a spot at any of those other schools.

No job is perfect, not even your dream job. I’m not going to pretend there weren’t ups and downs. I’m not going to pretend I didn’t get my butt handed to me once or twice. I learned from it though, and that’s what I went there to do. That being said, while the hours (read: commute, hours, and working on top of it) were rather intense, I wouldn’t change a minute of it. I walked away a more mature (read: calculated), more technically sound coach and lifter. Yes, I said lifter. Coaching at Campbell improved me as a weightlifter greatly too. I got more than I bargained for. Who would’ve thought? The better you teach something, the better you do it.

Thank you to the following [among so many others] for such a valuable experience:

  • Coaches Carter, Stryff, Alex, and Shin
  • Craig, Troy, Rachel and all of the Athletic Trainers
  • Student athletes- Tom Hartshorn, Scottie Miller, Landon Machristie, Andrew Franklin, Lipscomb, Daniel Bostick, Austin Pluckhorn, Daniel Smith, Jack Ryan, Shuler Littleton, Matt Olauson, Andrew Eudy, Austin Burnette, Barefoot, Kelly Post, Hannah, Kayla, Mere, Rita and so many others.
  • Fellow interns- Lance, Hunter, and Tev
  • And of course family- thank you to my sibs, parents, and cousins for being behind me and so interested in my experience. A special one to my husband, Zach, who suffered through cranky, stressed, and tired Meg and loved her anyway. Babe- thanks for always being proud of me and encouraging me to be my best.

They kept telling me there was no internship (Part I)

  • “wouldn’t respect or listen to her”  
  • “for her own safety”  
  • “overpower her” 
  • “testosterone driven” 
  • “lose control”
  • “cover up a scandal”

These are just a few of the phrases used in closed door meetings that were relayed to me by people seated at those very tables. They were reasons why I was being passed on for an unpaid internship in the football sector of Strength & Conditioning.

I am a contracted Strength & Conditioning (S&C) coach out of a little private gym. We get bids for clinics at the collegiate level. At the high school age and younger we do camps and individual strength and conditioning. I work with all types of athletes, but my favorite is linemen/special teams players in football.

These are the positions that [arguably] benefit most from the Olympic lifts (Snatch and Clean/Jerk). I have never had a problem being contracted to any football players on the individual or small group basis. I have never had a problem during a Snatch clinic. I have never had a problem when I go to help and learn at a local High School or boarding school.

Knowing what you may know about me from a few posts ago, I’m not estranged to the risks these directors and coaches have tried to ‘protect me’ from or scare me with. As I mentioned before, though, that event does not run my life, nor does is scare me away from these ‘big bad football players’.

We are never done learning and growing. That was one of many reasons I decided I needed to do an internship involving football. In addition to that reason, therein also lies the fact that the more exposure to football strength & conditioning, the better. Football coaches often (I didn’t say always. Calm down.) hold a negative opinion of women in the S&C sector. One could argue it’s because we only have powderpuff, rec leagues, and the LFL, so how will we relate to the guys? As a result it can be harder on our gym to win bids with football teams because I am one of the coaches. To offset that, I need everything I can get, so that on paper I am undeniable. More hours spent with football specifically, upwards of 1000 hours coaching weightlifting, numerous certifications by nationally accredited organizations, athletic medical experience/certifications, etc. I have everything listed, and a Baccalaureate in Upper Adolescent Education (high school/early college).

On paper I feel those make me a decent candidate…especially for an unpaid internship that only requires a CPR/AED certification and no experience. I applied to nearly thirty Summer internships with those prerequisites, all of which were football S&C. One of the internships was at a large school I had already shadowed at for a day. The head coach told me [in person] they would take me as an intern, but that we had to call it “shadowing” because there was no such football sector specific internship offered there. I was welcome to shadow any time, and was to just call first. At this time, I’d like to point out how odd that was, given I’d applied online for the ‘football S&C internship at __________ weight room’ just a few days prior. I did as I was advised, though, and followed up to schedule dates and never heard back.

I had a friend working there who told me about that closed door meeting I quoted at the beginning. He said they discussed the risks of having a female in her mid 20’s as a coach and came to a group decision that the risk outweighed the reward. Being a contracted coach, I’ve made a few friends with several schools’ assistants, coaches, etc. and this event happened at three different schools. Mind you, this is only schools where I was close enough with staff to be told. One may infer that this could very well have been the pattern at most schools I applied.

Enter Campbell University. Fully expecting the unexplained “no”, I followed up with yet another coordinator. To my surprise, I was granted a phone interview. Ecstatic, I set one up with the gentleman that had given me the good news. At the conclusion of the phone interview I was told I’d gotten one of four spots.

On my first day actually in the weight room with football, I met a student who to my surprise, had gotten the internship at the other school that the head coach told me didn’t exist. I brushed it off, telling myself it was probably informal “shadowing” or that the formal internship was only for students, not graduates. I, of course, learned later that was not the case. At the time, I just shook it off remembering how much I was learning in my current internship.

A week or two later I had a Friday that was optional. While typically I’d go in on an optional day, I wanted to go into this unnamed school to “shadow” a few lift groups. I called. I was told that it was a closed session. No one was permitted to shadow on that day—coaches only. I then was told if I’d like to meet one of the coaches after at a coffee place just off campus, I could come ask whatever questions and still get something out of my day.

I did that. To be fair, he did ask me some questions about what I’d learned so far at Campbell and offer some input, but that was it. After that it was all worthless chit chat. Then I left. After I received a follow up text saying how beautiful I looked and how he loves brown eyed girls. I’m sorry, what? Come on, dude. This can’t be real?

Well let’s just move forward, shall we? When I got to Campbell Monday morning I decided to ask this student if he was at that “closed session”, of course not mentioning being told there was no shadowing permitted. He was in fact there. Not only was he there, the other intern was too. Other intern? There are two? One isn’t even a student? My hypothesis was wrong. Neither are even CPR/AED certified, let alone anything else. Wow. Okay well they both are/were collegiate football players so that must be it. They can relate to the athletes better. Of course, I learned that wasn’t the only reason.

You know what irks me the most? Not being turned away for those reasons, not being hit on after a professional meeting. No, it was being lied to. Stop telling me there’s no internship when you took on two new interns. Stop telling me certain sessions are closed to people shadowing/interns when your interns are present.

The thing that differentiates us? That pair between your legs? Find it. And once you do, tell me you don’t want or aren’t comfortable with me there. I am aware you cannot say it’s because in a closed door meeting you decided the probability of needing to cover up a rape scandal was more likely than me having anything of value to contribute in a weight room. You could just say you have two candidates who are a better fit, and that I am only permitted to shadow on days the weight room is open to the public.

It does get better. The school I mentioned? Campbell University? The coaches I interned for are brilliant. The athletes I worked with across all sports are exceptional. The interns I worked alongside are great people. I learned so much from coaches, athletes, athletic trainers, and my fellow interns. In addition, I had so much fun. That football weight room, man did it have an atmosphere! It showed me how I want to shape my athletic programs at my gym. Oh, and shocker—no one raped me.