You might be thinking, “A strength coach? That sounds like a fun job,” or “Don’t they just workout all day?”
What I have learned over the years, is the impact a strength coach can have on their players, the dedication they have to the team, and willingness to lend a helping hand whenever possible.
A strength coach is much more than creating a workout schedule and making players stronger.
Conor and I met at the University at Buffalo while completing our graduate degrees. He had a dream of working with college athletics but didn’t have a job lined up yet. I was studying to become a Dietitian and ready for any job after six years of school and an internship.
As a Michigan State undergraduate student, I attended every home football game and our weekends during the fall semester were encompassed with the Big Ten Championship game and which bowl game the Spartans were heading to.
When Conor started interning with Canisius College athletics, I thought it was “pretty cool” but didn’t know what was in store. He then interned with the University at Buffalo football program during the spring of 2016. He worked a lot but it didn’t phase me much since the season wasn’t going on. That led to moving to South Carolina to intern at Wofford College.
We were about to embark on a 10 month, long distance relationship. I was so excited for him but still wasn’t sure about all of the responsibilities and time it required.
Wofford was my first sneak peak at what life as a coach’s wife would be like.
Conor got me tickets for a football game and I sat cheering in the stands alone. I embraced every minute of the Terriers win and it reminded me of my college days.
Conor’s time at Wofford came to an end with an opportunity to move back to Buffalo to intern with the Buffalo Bills. I visited Conor at training camp and once again sat in the bleachers alone.
During that very hot practice, I couldn’t help but think of how proud I was of him to keep chasing his dream. This was his fourth internship, yet he still persevered.
The road to a full-time or permanent job is much more difficult than one could imagine. It is not 9-5, Monday through Friday; a job is not guaranteed after college, and the pay is minimal. But Conor never once complained.
With a new head strength coach for UB Football, Conor was asked to join the staff for the 2017 season.
The first year was a roller coaster of emotions. Workdays surpassed 12 hours and included traveling for away games and player recovery time on Sundays.
As a strength coach, the responsibilities go beyond that of a weight room or training groups. They are with the players from the weight room, to practice, and even during dinner.
I went to every game that season and cheered him on—rain, shine, a midweek Tuesday night, and a cold Thanksgiving weekend game, I was there.
During that first season, we learned to navigate the schedule, while still dating. This was a crucial part of our relationship. Schedules and practice times can change at a moment's notice and it forced me to be flexible.
There have been times I get frustrated and irritated, but to me, there is nothing better than watching my significant other doing what he loves.
Conor’s goal in life is not only to make his players stronger, but to be a mentor to them and make a difference in their lives.
Each season is more and more exciting. My friends and family come to the games with me and I know I have a great support system. I can count on my friends to hang out on a Friday night or watch the Bills on Sundays while Conor is working. Having this support system makes it less lonely and essential to our relationship.
Family members ask, “What does he do from January to July?” or “Where is Conor?”
I have become accustomed to these questions over time and reiterate that the twelve-game schedule we see on TV is not where the coaching stops. Players workout throughout the entire spring semester, with some time off in May, and start back up in June; well before camp starts in August. The dedication coaches have for their team is incomparable.
This will be my first season as a “coach’s wife,” and I may not be allowed to cheer Conor on in the stands, but I will be with him every step of the way.
I have learned so much in the years of dating and that includes the power of passion, patience and perseverance.