My dear reader. You are now reading from, Donald Robinson M.Ed. It’s over!! School, it’s done! It has been an interesting 2 years that this blog has followed most of. This semester has been a real test to me in my ability to manage time and really soak in as much experience as possible. Much of it I have not written about, so in this article, I will recap the major activities that I involved myself with this spring, as well as share what is next in life!
Coaching quidditch this semester was extremely fulfilling. We got into some intense training and the gains were great. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, our ladies were squatting body weight or more, and many of the fellas on the team were well beyond 225lbs and near or beyond 1.5x body weight. Those who came consistently noted improvements in speed and endurance. It’s unfortunate I didn’t have all of the team out there, but it was certainly a blast with those who did train. I’m very proud of the improvements because we only trained twice a week, with 1 day being speed work at a heavy lift and the second being endurance based with more of a pillar/core focus.
Unfortunately, we did not accomplish the 4peat. After smashing the opening day rounds and being a high seed, we lost on the 2nd day prior to the Cup match. As time goes, teams have become more strategic and we fell to Ball State to a technique I believe is called, Slow Pitch. It’s when the offense plays very slow and non-aggressively, usually against a more aggressive and/or athletic defense, to cause mistakes in coverage and spacing. Texas has struggled with it before, but rarely ever faces this style of play and fell victim to it, especially only having a small number of returners from last year. Only losing a few seniors and returning over a dozen players, many of which aren’t even old enough to drink yet, Texas will be back in the championship running.
At the end of the semester I played a bit of quidditch myself! In late April, they had house matches, which is basically intramural play and consists of the entire campus wide quidditch community. Turnout was great, we had about 40-50 athletes, 4 teams of about 10-12. I played with Slytherin, but we unfortunately didn’t win out. In fact, I was fouled out in our second game for 2 “illegal” hits. The first hit was illegal, it was a hard shoulder bump to the chaser with the ball, which I’m told is illegal. Fair call, although it was exhibition and I don’t play, I feel I should’ve been cut a break. The second hit was totally legal. I hit this kid (pretty hard I must admit) right in the ribs and was called for hit from behind, meanwhile the kid landed on his back. Oh well. I had a blast and let out a lot of pent up aggression. It’s a full contact sport. Oh yeah, I snitched too (not on anybody though). For those not in the know, it’s a player who has to be caught to end the game. In muggle quidditch, the snitch is a neutral character who has a sock with a ball in it tucked (or velcroed) in the shorts and someone on the either team needs to grab it to end the game and gain 30 points. In Harry Potter it’s a flying ball with a spell cast on it. It was great at first, but then I did something rookie-ish and was caught. I didn’t account for how the sock flies up when you cut past someone.
Internship with Train 4 The Game
I spent time interning at a training facility here in Austin, Train 4 The Game. I got interested because the strength coach for Texas basketball (now with the 76ers) owned it. I had a classmate who worked with him and seemed like an endless pool of knowledge, so I needed to find his source. They followed a system of training called Applied Functional Science. I have much more to learn about it, but from shadowing, talking to coaches, and taking on some of the online coursework, my interpretation of it results in 3 main thoughts, although it’s waaaaay deeper. I spent about 14 hours a week interning from January to late April.
- Training the body in all 3 planes of motion, rather than simply all of our conventional forward/back and up/down training that we do.
- Improving the body’s ability to absorb and dish out rotational forces in various movements in all of the rotational joints in the body (particularly ankle, hip, and thoracic spine)
- Making small adjustments to nearly every exercise to result in a plethora of variations and progressions to exercises
The information I received was certainly valuable and helped me further learn about the void of information that I am barely even aware of. Isn’t that part of what life is about, being further exposed to how much you don’t know. I work to incorporate the parts of the training I understand and have been exposed to into various parts of my programming for clients.
Personal Training and Corporate Fitness
I coach at a gym in Austin where all my clients are old enough to be my grandparents, and I love it. It has been amazing helping these people feel years younger, alleviate pain, and giving them a ear to ramble to (or be my ear for one of them). A lot of knowledge gets shared and I try and soak it all up. At this job I also teach a circuit class for the more elderly there. I’ve had a blast having 60-70 year old men and women doing push jerks, and teaching a couple of them how to do snatches. These clients have made me appreciate the beauty of the golden years if you handle your health and finances well.
I also spent the semester doing corporate fitness training at a couple business sites here in Austin. I met some great people in my journey training them. Along with having safe and effective training protocols, personality is key in group fitness training. Being someone worth remembering, and being thoroughly interested in the lives of others makes these experience so rich and memorable.
Ultimate frisbee and my knee injury
So something I don’t talk about a whole lot is that I played ultimate frisbee for the University of Texas. My throwing was sketchy overall so I was on the B team (Graze) although I was as athletic as most on the A team, height not being a factor haha. I played a bit my first year of grad school but stopped after my midterm grades came out. I played with Graze from fall through March this school year until I messed up my meniscus, twice in 2 weeks. A combination of factors, a number that I’m at fault for, lead to this.
The first injury healed quickly although very debilitating. I had slight pain over the 2 weeks leading to the injury and one day stability was lost quickly to the point by 6pm practice I could barely walk and nearly collapsed trying to cut. Over spring break, it started feeling better rather quickly, and so I went to play pick up 10 days later….and injured it even worse. I deceived myself into thinking it was actually healed because I was having a good day. I went up and missed a disc (I was defending a girl and didn’t want to bump into her while jumping but had to try and reach over to her other side to catch it) and landed hard on my bad leg. After she caught it and scored I limped away humiliated and hurt. I played a few more points against my better judgement as I would’ve demanded my own athletes sat down and stopped, hypocrite, I know. Once I realized it was feeling worse I went home, and could barely even get up the stairs. Once I was lying in bed, I couldn’t really straighten and flex my knee without using my hands.
Needless to say, almost all athletic activity stopped until mid-April as I had started using basketball (shooting by myself or 1-on-1 with a friend) as a means to lightly train. I didn’t play ultimate frisbee again until mid-May and it took 2 weeks to be able to play aggressively, although my knee was a bit sore the next day. I’m hoping to play heavy in a summer league this year, it’s certainly therapeutic for me.
If I’m ever in your city, let’s play some ultimate. Back while in Nairobi I taught some football athletes how to play, and we had a blast. I wish I got to play in Addis Ababa, but it was canceled for the holiday I was in town.
Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation
One of the most awesome things I did this semester was serve as a fellow for the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation. Led by Daron Roberts, a former NFL coach, and getting to work closely with Preston Moore, the assistant director, this program has strongly influenced my career path. I assisted with 2 amazing programs, Captains Academy and CLEAT (Continuing Leadership and Ethical Athletic Training) as well as met an amazing cast of sport leaders from the Austin area. I got to have frozen yogurt with the Executive Director of the Austin Sports Commission, on our own scheduling, a contact I may never have made otherwise.
This is one of the biggest highlights and I look forward to creating programs spawned from my experience to help athletes understand team leadership, personal finance, relationships, career development, and so much more! Be on the lookout!!
For my last semester I took 2 classes, Advanced Exercise Physiology and Global Entrepreneurship. AED was as miserable as I thought it would be. I’ve always suffered with 2-4pm lecture classes, on top of it being a straight up lecture class. I learned a lot although I was crashing and burning in April. Burnout, stress, and not wanting to fall asleep in class caused me 2 miss 3 classes in April, a class that is only 2x a week. I’ve only skipped MAYBE as many as 8-10 classes in 6 years of college, 3 of those were in this class in April. Sometimes I question if I should’ve done the sport management program and took exercise science classes on the side, rather than vice versa. There was more reading, writing, presenting, and discussion in my sport management classes which was enjoyable.
Global Entrepreneurship was a blast. My group created a company called Reenfit which basically was a holistic health and fitness subscription box. We got to learn the process of creating a start-up and it was a very hands on class. The class was front loaded and so I did a lot of work until about spring break. I took this class to learn more about business as I did not need the credits or the extra owed money in loans, but knowledge is wonderful!
My 3rd set of credits was from a literature review I did for my advisor. My subject was strength training for endurance athletes. The verdict is, lift HEAVY. I will make a post summarizing the review sometime in the near future. It took many hours to do, but in hindsight I feel very accomplished by having done it. I actually may make it downloadable to be accessed on the site!
One of the most fulfilling things I did was start a mini garden. I grew nasturtium (pictured), lemongrass, and green beans. I was amazing growing things that I could eat and felt mighty empowering. I highly encourage that you get into growing. I planted my seeds on January 31st after wanting to by aromatic grass to use for my coffee making ceremony in my mini-Habesha inspired coffee time. Once I was at the garden store the urge to grow stuff took over, and 4 months later I go to my job and pluck green beans and eat them! I really felt like a sort of parent while they were growing. I learned a ton about plants, and realized to a grander degree how much I know nothing about in botany.
Lastly, I graduated! May 21st 2016. It honestly wasn’t as emotional as finishing my bachelor degree was. I was very relieved to be done with coursework, but not necessarily excited or anxious for it. My friends came down to spend a few days with me to celebrate which was a phenomenal time. I went to 5 different ceremonies and celebration, I milked every bit of experience I could. It feels relaxing to know I am done with school, I never realized how stressful college was until it was over. I tried my best to take advantage of every opportunity I could while at this school and I’m satisfied overall for how it went.
What’s next? My life is entering a rewriting period as the phase of life is changing, so I’m entering an unknown transition into real adulthood. Work wise, I’ll be taking on a position in my hometown of Pittsburgh PA as an educational liaison for foster youth in school and returning to coach with my track club, River City Elite for the summer. The slow add-ons? Coaching in the community, taking on private clients, figuring my next foreign assignment, and creating life skills and leadership programs for athletes in the city. I’m trying to take it easy and just focus on working and coaching for now. I am notorious for doing too much and want to relax a bit!
Thank you to the dozens of people who have supported me through these 6 years of school. I truly appreciate all of it.
A few thoughts to part with:
- Take good advice. We don’t know it all
- Be good to people, you’ll need them to vouch for you
- Don’t be a one track person. Just as multi-sport athletes are more likely to go professional and be healthier, so is a person who has a variety of experiences to be of value to others
- Friendship makes accomplishments so much sweeter
- The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. Keep overly certain people who don’t ask questions at a distance from you.
Thanks for the support!