Ok, ok I know it has been quite some time since I spoke to y’all. School started, and well, everything got real. Very real. A lot to catch up on! Life has been feeling like its moving at 100mph, all of a sudden I’m almost 24, a good friend of mine is 27 and getting married next month and I still think of when we used to tear up campus when I was 18. I’m almost done with my 6th year of college, like AHHHHHH what’s happening!!? There’s this huge influx of growing wiser, realizing how important this moment in life is, coming to see my own mortality, the fight for ‘significance’, and an understanding of life’s possibilities are all hitting me at once! Oh yeah, so what’s been up right? I’m approaching the middle of the semester and a lot has happened: new coaching opportunities, jobs, hostile classes, and much else. Here I’ll talk about how my internship at EXOS ended and some life jewels I gather along the way. In later blogs that I post before the winter, and boy do I have big news about that, I’ll talk about developments happening through the semester.
My internship at EXOS ended great! I spent the last 7 weeks working the morning shift with a coach, Denis Logan, who’s pretty much a big deal in EXOS. I learned a ton about actually being a coach from him and how not to make the science too complicated. An assortment of lessons such as my physical presence, adjusting my personality to the athlete and treating them all differently, truly forming a personal bond and not just having a personable personality, and plenty more. We had a 7:30am high school group that was so much fun. They got in great shape and were a BLAST to work with. We played so much ultimate frisbee, almost every Thursday haha, but after I did heavy deadlifts Wednesday evening =(. Our high school lacrosse group after that we had was cool too. They weren’t the most athletic kids I’ve seen but the ones that consistently came and worked hard got much better . They definitely had some interesting personalities. Then we worked with a college group in the afternoon in which I got a lot of autonomy to coach. I enjoyed growing close to them which was a bit easier to do since I’m closer in age and current experience. We had a baseball player which I’m writing my internship paper on (that I have yet to start), a soccer player, a hockey player, and two football players, all of whom left at varying times. The experience and the educational sessions with the coaches really helped me further grasp how the body adapts to training over time and how to cue better. Especially in regards to motor control. I actually went and bought a motor control book in retrospect. I still haven’t opened it, but that’s another issue.
I grew personally in that last phase of the internship. I got very close with Denis and the other intern Hannah who worked with us. We went out to lunch together. We went out for dinner and drinks at the end of it and then even went to a cookout with another coach. So yeah, I got way closer with work people than I’ve ever gotten as I usually keep a wall up. Within all this closeness, well, Donald’s true colors came out, and at times were challenged. See Denis is black, and is the FIRST black man that’s ever held direct authority over me for any extended period of time, ever. Most of my professional life has been ruled over by white women, a number of whom were great but it is what it is. It makes me nervous, my mother raised me to never forget Emmitt Til when I’m around white women, so I’m rarely just completely chill. In this time under Denis’ supervision, I’ve never felt so relaxed at work and just able to be me to the fullest extent of me in a professional environment. Not like I was acting an ass by any means, just simply I didn’t feel like I had judging eyes on me and felt comfortable making mistakes without ducking stereotypes. I felt comfortable being weird, I felt comfortable being black at work for the first time and it was just amazing. And it wasn’t a topic we talked about much, just his presence helped my comfort. Plus he is generally just a great guy. A great mentor and someone who’s surely going to help get me far in life. All that having been said, he challenged me personally.
See he’s a very diverse and interesting man who’s coached around the world and speaks 3 languages, basically what I want to be in a decade (I think I’m pretty behind), and is from NYC, son. At a pub we went to at the end of the internship, we had a convo that basically came about from me bringing up how he deals with black in a rather white company. See for me, my blackness rules my thoughts, unless I’m abroad. I’m hyperaware of it. The only time I literally felt completely at ease was when I was in Belize City, where I blended in, almost everywhere. Denis told me though, paraphrased fyi, “When I’m on a company retreat somewhere (he’s Jamaican too) with the founder and owner of the company who’s from small town Washington (the state), what good does it for the two of us to focus on our differences in conversation. I want to find as many ways to relate to this man, or any other person I meet, because that’s how relationships grow and flourish, and relationships are paramount in life. The moment I start going on and on about how different we are, I’m building a wall in between us placing distance between us. What good does that do?” He went on to mention how when 2 “different” people start to really notice their differences, it can draw them apart. Not that he paints some new face when he meets people, but he doesn’t let the color of his skin rule how he lives his life and interacts with others. Denis is gonna be smooth, sailor-mouthed, witty, and respectful Denis to everyone.
It’s rather odd how working under him helped me be more comfortable in the intern house with people who were just so different, but not like foreign born different. Different in a way that I grew up being taught was hostile to my existence (except the Jersey guy), which made me standoffish, and well, intellectually hostile. I felt like I had to wear my intelligence on my chest, which is like, unnecessary at “home”, like chill bro. But yeah it helped my comfort in my own skin which I needed to return back to Austin. It was odd. This is why parents need to have their kids grow up in diverse environments.
Oh yeah, back to EXOS. So yeah, I also got to work with some pretty special EXOS people in Houston with the NFL Trust partnership by helping set up their “Breakfast Club” program they do to improve the fitness and health of former NFL players. It was a great opportunity that helped me see how normal these very important people were, the NFL vets and EXOS people. One of the therapists was from Australia so I told them a story about running into these to Aussie (Australian) guys while backpacking, in 5 different cities, across 2 countries. I need to write a blog about that. I got to really show my resourcefulness though because I was basically the middle man between the EXOS staff and the YMCA staff (the event was held there), in regards to all of the logistics of our stay. I made sure all the equipment had a place to be, that players got checked in and moved from place to place, helped scout and offer opinions on even the logistics of some of the training execution. I was like the boss of facility management and it was GREAT. I was able to run around with the YMCA keys from of the director-ish woman who was our liaison. I showed the EXOS staff how I organized all of their stuff for the 6 week program (I was there for 2 days) to make things go smooth. It was really a great moment and it was great for me to do. Denis had recommended me for it and received good feedback which made me feel rather swell.
I got to bond pretty closely with a couple of the interns over the course of time. It was needed for me and I learned a fair bit from them. The internship I’ve wanted for years was everything I wanted and even more, even with the many nuances that came along with it. How did it end? I got a good chunk of staff and even our college baseball guy to come play Saturday morning pick up frisbee! And most of them seemed to love it! Score! I played almost every Saturday the whole summer
Be sure to check out further content, especially taking my lessons and coaching in Kenya!