My Holiday Wish for You

I absolutely adore the kid.


In fairness, I adore every young athlete I’ve ever trained, though.


I’m one of ‘those’ Coaches.


Gave everything I had to each and every one of the young athletes I
had the privilege of working with.


No matter how talented or committed, I consider it an honor to touch
the lives of young people and help mold them as both athletes and


But over the years, admittedly, some of them stood out.


Austin was one of them.


A personality, disposition and smile that lit up a room.


A tenacious work ethic that was unmatched.


Without hesitation, I can tell you that the days I trained Austin were
days that I got out of bed with more excitement and purpose.


He was just one of those kids that worked his tail off for you.


No matter what you put in front of him, he would smile, say something
like "let’s do this" and attack the exercise like a fly to a pile of dung.


Special kid in every way.


That’s why when his father died suddenly this past summer, I felt compelled
to take care of him.


Now let me explain something, Austin isn’t the kind of kid who needs to
be taken care of.


In fact, I watched with amazement at his own father’s funeral, this 17
year old kid remain composed while he walked around the room taking
the time to console other people – most of whom where at least
twice his age.


But I also know we all have breaking points and I was very careful to
stay near him that day and look for signs of him breaking down


Like most funerals, the day was marked with moments of sadness and
sparked with funny stories that provided some much needed levity.


Speeches were made, memories offered and as the day wound down,
I felt a sense of relief that Austin seemed to have gotten through the
ceremony virtually unscathed.


Of course he was saddened by the sudden loss of his father, but there
he was, lighting up the room with that smile of his and taking care of
other people with the same zeal and tenacity that I had come to expect
of him as an athlete.


Customarily, the guests started to form a line in order to walk past Austin
and his Mom giving a final word of support and express there condolences.


I watched him shake hands, accept words of sorrow, offer the odd hug and
generally be that stalwart young man I had known him to be.


But when I got to the front of the line, I stood in front of a kid I no longer


The warm smile was gone.


The big personality vacant.


I was looking at a young man in pain.


And in a moment, I realized how sacred the Coach-Athlete relationship
can be…


"I love you, Coach. What am I going to do without my Dad?"


Typing those words out causes me to relive exactly how I felt in that


It brings back every emotion.


Austin had thrown his arms around me and buried his head in my chest.


He was crying uncontrollably and I instinctively hugged him back hard trying
to show without saying anything at all that he was safe.


"It’s going to be okay, Austin. You’ve got a great family, tons of supportive
friends and a wonderful head on your shoulders. It may not feel like it
right now, but you’re going to be fine"


I looked around at all the faces in the crowd. Every one of them focused
on us.


And they all portrayed a feeling of relief. Almost like they were happy
to see that this sturdy young man finally was breaking down the way
they all knew he needed to.


I held Austin for a few more minutes and we agreed that it would be
best for us to ‘hang out’ together some over the next few weeks.


And that’s exactly what we did.


We trained together.


Watched a couple of movies.


In fact, he even came over to the house several mornings a week so he
could eat some of Sara’s special ‘Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal’.


Austin left for college a few weeks later.


He had regained his swagger, that big smile and was certainly ready to
attack school with the same vigor he displayed in my training sessions.


I spent my 2008 summer taking care of a young athlete who needed
more than a better bench press.


And in all my years of coaching, I don’t think I ever used my time for
a better purpose.


Austin called me yesterday.


He’s back in town and looking forward to ‘hanging out’ during his break
from school.


I can’t wait myself.


The IYCA is more than a fitness organization who educates professionals.


It’s an international family.


And our job is significantly more profound than to enhance the performance
of the young athletes we work with.


I’d love to know what you think about my experience with Austin.


I’d also love to hear about any stories you may have that are similar to


I’m off to go Christmas shopping with Austin….









8 Responses

  1. Staci says:

    Brian –
    That is the best story!! I’ve worked with trainers as I compete in bodybuilding myself. Who could ask for more than having that kind of trust and confidence in a trainer/friend? Keep up ythe great work!!

  2. Pam Davenport says:

    Thank you so much for sharing that story. I met you at Ryan Lee’s Bootcamp and frankly I found you to be such an encouraging, sincere, upbeat person. So the positive effect you have on those you coach also extends to the strangers you meet for the first time. That story was better than watching It’s a Wonderful Life again but similar in its message. Have a wonderful holiday.

  3. Donovan Owens says:


    I could tell a few stories but this is your moment and I thank you for sharing. This is what training youth athletes has to be about…Connecting. It’s not just another day to go a train. It’s another day to build a lasting impression and create life value while building a legacy.

    Great story BG!


    Brian a heart felt story.Yes I can sympathize with you and the young man.We effect people in many ways and those who really care about the youngster we teach will make their mark in time.That why I believe the IYCA will make its mark in society because we have special people all over the world.Hve a wonderful christmas from all UK IYCA members best wishes for the new year.

  5. Diane Miles says:

    What a great story. I am reminded of a statement, “If we part, and our relationship is only client-trainer
    ….then, I didn’t do my job”. Being a coach or trainer to many of these young people is SO much more. We share so many highs and lows with them. We help them develop not only athletically but also into great young men and women.

    It is hard sometimes to put our feelings into words, but this statement comes pretty close .

    ” I’m living a dream. I get to listen and watch individuals and athletes go through some amazing moments. They learn something about themselves, they become more confident and strong–not just in body, but in mind, and sometimes even spiritually. It’s truly amazing! It’s what motivates me. It’s what drives me to be the BEST trainer-mentor I can be…It’s what I feel I am called to do. You drive me to be the best I can be.
    I get to live my dream. I get to affect lives. I can only hope that something I may have said or done has given you more hope, has made your life better. I am honored to be on this journey with you.
    As for me…. I get to live my dream because of you!”

    >>No only do these kids give us blessings, but many wonderful educators such as Brian and IYCA have impacted our lives for the better. Thank you

  6. Matt Jennings says:

    You are a good man, brother Brian!
    That was an experience(story) that I believe we are all grateful to you for sharing with the rest of your IYCA family. My best to Austin and his family.
    God Bless and Merry Christmas…

    Matt Jennings

  7. Shawn says:

    That is a touching experience. I am a newly ISSA certified fitness trainer, and I only can hope to have the same effect on the people I train both young and old. I have been just were Austin is I lost my Dad back in 93. Yes I was a little older than Austin but the story is very similar. Keep up the great work Brian. Thanks for all you do.

  8. Cynthia Carl Onugha says:

    Hi Brian,
    You are more than a coach to Austin and that is very good cause you are building him physically and emotionally.That was a very touchy story pls continue to be a big brother to Austin in other for him not to feel the vacuum the death created. May God continue to bless u for your good works.
    Remain Blessed


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