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Reflections of a Johnnie Football Space Monkey

If you’ve been listening to the premiere podcast in Strength-th-th and Conditioning-ing-ing, you know that we’ve reached the 10-year anniversary of Power Athlete. To celebrate, Johnnie WOD is dusting off the old pads and switching to Johnnie Football for the Winter Season, bringing back the first 100 workouts that John ever published.

This got the nostalgia feels going for me, as this is also my 10-year anniversary of starting training in the Power Athlete Methodology, along with attending my first CFFB. During this 10 year span a lot has happened; overcoming self-doubt, gaining a white belt mindset, placing an emphasis on being a master of movement, overcoming two ACL tears, developing as a writer, understanding the science behind strength and conditioning, and becoming a successful gym owner.

Looking back at beginning training on Power Athlete and attending the CFFB seminar, I had no idea what sort of dominos were being set up at the time, and the kinetic energy they would create when they started falling. This article will highlight some key moments in my coaching journey I can't help but reflect on as I take on the first 100 Johnnie Football workouts.

May 11th, 2009

For the last 2 years, I had been following programming at my local box gym as a way to fuel my rugby performance. My training partner at the time told me about a program called CFFB that had just launched. He was looking over the description of the program, and it sounded like it would be good fit for us. I also emailed longtime Power Athlete friend Andy Stumpf to get his opinion, as he was the flow master at my level 1 earlier that yer. He told me that he thought the program would work great for me but said he was also a little biased since he helped create it. So I hopped on the program. There were two strength programs - Amateur, the equivalent of today’s Bedrock and, Collegiate, aka Field Strong. Overestimating where I was at in my life cycle as an athlete, I skipped over Amateur and went straight to Collegiate. Within a few weeks, I could tell this was next step in the direction I wanted to take my training for rugby.

August 22nd - 23rd, 2009

At this time I had been coaching for around 8 months. Like a lot of new coaches, I was eager to learn as much as I could. Checking the listings of upcoming seminars, I saw that there was a CFFB seminar in Indianapolis, just three hours south of me. I immediately jumped on the opportunity to attend and learn in person. The analogy of drinking water from a fire hose was often used to describe these seminar weekends, and that couldn’t have been any truer for me.

Amidst all of the information throughout the weekend, the biggest thing I took away was understanding the life cycle of an athlete. All athletes must establish a solid foundation, and I had skipped the building process by jumping over the Amateur template. I was trying to build the Great Pyramid, but barely had the foundation to support a house. The following Monday I started on Amateur to lay the base upon which all of my future training endeavors would be built.

2009 - 2012

I used the Power Athlete Methodology I had learned at the seminar as a way to empower my rugby performance, train the high school rugby players I worked with, as well as the general population I worked with day in and day out. I consumed any and everything Power Athlete put out, looking for a way to improve my coaching ability.

June 4th, 2012

John put out a Talk to Me Johnnie, “Joining the Seminar Staff.” In it John detailed the steps needed at the time to work your way onto the seminar staff team. After reading it, I knew this was something I would want to do. However, not being confident in my abilities and what I could possibly bring to the team, I ruled myself out.

The very next day I received an email saying: “Carl, CFFB is looking to create an army. Your name came up in discussion; would you be interested?” This was a direct recruitment letter from CFFB itself! No matter how unsure of my abilities and what I could bring to the team, I felt I had to say yes.

September 4th, 2012

Step 1 was to find a second seminar to attend. Around that time, I had signed up for seminar in September called “Knowledge Fest.” Unfortunately, a couple of key speakers backed out, and the event was in danger of being cancelled. John, being the man that he is, honored his commitment to the event and changed it to a CFFB Seminar. Here was my second seminar!

After finishing that weekend, I was the asked if I could make it out to Crossfit Balboa (pre-Austin PAHQ) for another seminar just a couple of weeks later. I had no idea how I was going to make it work logistically or financially, but I said yes knowing I’d figure it out. I can remember my mom giving me a hard time about spending all of this money, but I knew I was investing in myself and that it was the right thing to do.

September 23rd, 2012

I arrive at HQ, and we start debriefing the weekend’s outline. You are going demoing this, demoing that, and you’re going to lead the Power Clean. Wait. What!? I would be demoing, along with leading the Power Clean, at my third ever seminar, for a crowd of 30+people!? I remember the night before teaching the Power Clean laying in my bed, closing my eyes, and running through the progression over and over and over, pulling what I could remember from the last seminar and my coaching experience over the last few years. The time came and let me just say this: it was a train wreck. My crowd control was minimal, I had people hold onto their bars way too long, and tone and inflection might as well have been nonexistent.

It was at this moment that I realized that even though I had been coaching for close to four years, I was still very much a white belt.

The train wreck I had in my head must not have looked unsalvageable to the crew, because the next directive I was given was to “keep an eye on the seminar list for any that you can drive to.” So, that's exactly what I did. Every day when I went to website to look at the training, I glanced at the upcoming seminar list just waiting for that next opportunity.

Becoming a Coach is a long road, and this was only the beginning. I'll continue to share my reflections as I fight through the first 100 again. Join me in the training and have some fun on the TrainHeroic Feed as the classic CFFB #dickpunch appears to be back.

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Carl Case

Carl Case has been an athlete his whole life, playing both football and rugby in high school. After high school, he directed his focus to rugby where he went on to become a collegiate Midwest All Star. Carl continues to play rugby on a mens team near South Bend, and was part of a National Runner Up team. He found CrossFit and then Crossfit Football as a way to fuel his rugby performance. He has been following the CrossFit Football program since it’s launch in 2009 and attended his first CrossFit Football seminar in August of 2009.

After an introduction to CrossFit in 2007, Carl became a certified coach in 2009 and co-owner of CrossFit South Bend in 2011. In addition to coaching CrossFit and CrossFit Football classes at the gym, Carl has been coaching high school rugby since 2009. He uses the CrossFit Football and Power Athlete concepts to help his young athletes identify their goals and provides pointed instruction to help achieve those goals.

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