After an 18 month journey, my wife and I found out on Wednesday, March 12th, that we were selected to adopt a 4 month old baby boy. It still seems bittersweet after the long journey this has been. Having 6 short weeks to prepare for our son is going to be a whirl win, but it makes the entire journey well worth it. The “juice was worth the squeeze” as they say. The feedback, support, joy, and warmth we have received has been almost too much to take.
Speaking soley from my perspective regarding my athletes, I was shocked at the amount of texts and phone calls that I received from my athletes. These are 16-24 year old “kids”. I have congratulation texts from ex-athletes that I haven’t talked to in 3 years. MANY, MANY people “liked” our Facebook posts and commented on our great news which is/was heart warming and generous. Some of “my guys” went the extra mile to drop me a line, leave me a voice mail, or keep calling until they reached me. I can honestly say that I’m not sure if I would’ve have the maturity to do that at their age. I don’t think that I would’ve been aware of how much time and emotional investment that those that are adopting go through. Those random acts of reaching out to me make what I do worth every second of it. Spending 80 hours a week running the business, coaching, studying, etc can get over whelming when you aren’t living the lifestyle that you want. The “success” texts, newspaper articles, the scholarships, and phone calls make what I do rewarding. Cultivating the relationships that I’ve created with these special athletes isn’t something that I was aware would go as deeply as it has. A truly lucky man am I. I guess being “raised right” forced me to surround myself with outstanding people. In my 36 short years, I have been fortunate to know some very remarkable people that I have learned from, grown with, and have simply enjoyed L-I-V-I-N’ with. The relationship with these special athletes isn’t something that I saw coming, and it is a tremendous surprise. They just better be around when we need a baby sitter! haha!
The End of an Era…..
This week marks the end of Ryan McGrath’s collegiate hockey career. He was my “first” major player that I trained coming back to Pittsburgh. The guy he was training with told him that “he would ruin his hockey career” training with me despite helping grom my cousin RJ since he was 12. Ryan had just finished as Holy Cross’s Team Captain, which is not bad for a 5’8” “fullback looking” hockey player. In a sense, he did get the short end of the stick his first three years at Holy Cross. To support my belief, “If he was good enough to be the senior captain, why not start as a junior and get more playing time as a senior?”
As I’ve told Ryan and his parents, “I don’t know how he stayed at HC for as long as he did. I would’ve been gone way before my junior year. He didn’t play college hockey to watch lesser players play for four years”. I’m not a hockey coach, and I don’t pretend to be an expert on the X’s and O’s of Ice Hockey. I do know that Ryan could’ve been the team captain as a freshman if given the opportunity. Ryan was focused on academics and the opportunity that HC provided him after his playing career was done. He kept his head down, shut his mouth and worked his tail off. The results is that he accepted an investment banking position at UBS in Manhattan (NYC) before he sat for the first class of his senior year.
Ryan has been like a little brother. He’s been with me through opening my dream facility that is Umberger Performance through the devastating flood that happened 2 months after our grand opening. My training time with him consisted of me literally arguing with him for two hours about what he was planning on doing that training session which was 200% more than what he was actually going to do. That grew into a negotiation. The concept of overtraining was as real to Ryan as a unicorn or Santa Clause. The arguments were a source of entertainment to the rest of the athletes. “Here we go again…” Any coach will agree, I’d rather have a team full of hard pushing Type A’s instead of a bunch of passive type B laissez-faire players. Ryan’s success on and off the ice comes to no surprise to me or anyone that knows the real Ryan.
The stories over the years could be told in a book and most aren’t fit for this venue. Many of his quotes have been immortalized on the UP video version of “Shit Athletes Say”. I can honestly say that there isn’t an athlete that I’ve trained for a year that I don’t think is an awesome person. Ryan wasn’t any better than the rest, he was different. The mood of the entire facility changed when he walked in. As Andrew Stimmel, former OSU Lax Captain and current D1 Collegiate Lax Coach said of Penguins Craig Adams, “I love when Craig walks in. It’s like a punch of intensity right in the face.” Ryan was the same way. Your ass better be working hard. He was either going to call you out or make you look stupid as he saturated the floor with his sweat. Many still consider his sweating problem a Public Health Safety concern. He is a larger than life character that expected everyone to simply work their asses off because he was. We always laughed that Ryan even “slept hard”.
One day he asked me about an new athlete. “What’s that guy like”. I said, “He’s a good dude. He shows up everyday and works hard.” He said,
“Scott, isn’t that what a D1 athlete is suppose to do?”
I tell that story to every athlete and person looking to achieve a sport, fitness, or health goal. You want to earn a scholarship? You want to drop 15-40 pounds? You have to dedicate yourself. You have to act professional about it. Do what you are suppose to do and do it every damn day. Winners don’t take days off. Another Ryan quote,
“Food is fuel. I don’t eat food for the taste. I eat to to fuel my performance.”
That intensity and passion will be missed. I don’t have to wish him the best. I don’t need to. He’s going to crush life and he’s going to “Earn it Everyday”.