For the past three and a half months, I had been studying for the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (from the NSCA) exam. I had read two different editions of the textbook three times front-to-back. I am not proud to say this, but I was studying so much that I had not spent quality time with the Lord in weeks. This past week leading up to the exam, I had been stressing over the results that I had not yet received. I was stressing over the results, because this certification determined whether I would get a job or not… It was until that Sunday, the day previous to the exam, that I heard a message of faithfulness. During the service, I finally surrendered the results to God and asked Him for forgiveness for leaving Him in the dust and out of MY plans. In that moment, I decided that no matter if I passed or failed, He had a purpose for that failure or for that “success.”
Long story short…
The C.S.C.S. is made up of two sections- one Exercise/Nutrition science-based and the second section was Practical/Applied. I had many internships, so the Practical/Applied was going to be the easier section for me, and so I focused my energy on the science-based questions.
Results are immediately printed out after each section taken. I took the Practical/Applied first- it was a 2.5 hour, 110 multiple choice exam with a few videos and many charts. I thought the information was challenging but had a good feeling I had passed. As for the second section… well, that was more difficult. The problem with this section is that there are only 80 scored (and 10 non-scored) questions in 1.5 hours. The timing was not the problem, but the fact that if I had missed only a few questions, that would make the difference between pass/fail.
My results were: PASS – Exercise/Nutrition portion. FAIL – Practical/Applied.
I was shocked. I could not believe I passed the section I sincerely thought that I would fail at. I was shocked that I did not pass the section I barely studied for because I thought I knew it from all the hands-on experiences / internships that I had.
I was stunned. I did not know how to even react. Do I cry? Am I mad? Would I be upset? Do I text all my close family and friends? Do I keep it to myself?
But the results were in. That was it. The day kept going. The sun continued to shine. I was still on this Earth – there was no rapture. Why Lord??
But like I said. Ahead of time, I gave the results to the Lord. I thought about the blessings of passing at least one section. Now I know exactly what is on the exam for next time and what sections I would devote my time studying to. This time, I only needed to study half of the textbook (and half of the chapters) instead of the entire 600+ page textbook. The only thing is I had to wait three more months before I could retake this one section.
My weaknesses were Exercise Technique (what I spend literally all my time doing during my internships) and Program Design (a weakness I knew ahead of time).
A few days after the exam, I came across a video series of a Strength & Conditioning coach named Andrea Hudy. Hudy is the Head S&C Coach of the MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM at the University of Kansas. In her first video, she spoke about how she was glad to have failures, because that was how she became stronger and learned. She encouraged me to take this failure as a mini success in its own way. It helped me to recognize my weaknesses and yet it did not define who I was as a Strength Coach. PLUS, she gets extra brownie points for being a female head strength coach of a DI men’s team.
As I got closer and closer to my test date, my activeness to pursue information and knowledge decreased. I apologized to the Strength Coach in advance, and he told me he completely understood.
I love working at this internship. Unfortunately, my love is limited to certain teams. I am no comfortable working with the men’s teams– I always knew this as a fact. For the longest time, I felt and still feel like this is a weakness. The world is telling me that I cannot pick and choose who I want to work with, but another part of me knows that is also not entirely true. I believe God gave me a passion for Strength and Conditioning… yes, but I also believe that He gave me a passion to work with a specific age-group and gender.
My passion is to empower young female athletes to become the best they can be on and off the field. I want them to recognize their true strength, which is beyond what any of them had imagined. And that YES they CAN do a pull-up. 😉
This past Thursday, after watching several of Hudy’s videos, I wanted to DTI (define-the-internship) that I was currently at. I asked him some legitimate S&C questions as a way to ease into a more deep concern of mine. Essentially, I asked him what the “next steps” were for me and my future.
When I had called him up for the first time in January, he seemed so excited to have an intern to help him out in the weight room. He over-emphasized (and by that, some slight bragging) his accomplishments and his willingness to get me where I wanted to be (because apparently he has connections). He told me that he would mentor me. This was what I desired– someone to coach me through this field.
As the internship continued, I felt like I was taken slightly advantage of and that my presence was taken for granted. I personally grown complacent and not excited about working with the men’s teams — football, basketball. I did not have any excitement for being at their lifts compared to the women’s teams. I admit, I crossed my arms and did not say much. I felt awkward, like a fly on the wall at the practices.
He called me out on a lot of my weaknesses and told me that I should find another internship or become a graduate assistant. He seemed unwilling to connect me to any of his “buddies” in other places and gave me a few suggestions of where to search for such positions. Although he did not flat out say it, he did not think that I was ready for a full-time position. He said that his program could not fund another Graduate Assistant for the weight room and was trying to rationalize to make himself feel better that he could not offer me more. He looked awkward as I just stared at him and nodded my head.
Honestly, I thought that my time at this internship had concluded mid-way. There was not even a Graduate program at the school that interested me. Even if there was an opening, I would not have taken it.
I left the weight room and felt really upset. I knew that I was not energetic towards the men’s teams because I felt uncomfortable working with them in the first place. It was easy for him to call me out on my weaknesses because he was a male in a male-dominant field.
Although I had not fulfilled my duty for the men’s teams, I felt that he had not fulfilled his duties for the internship program that he told me I would follow. I concluded that there basically was no internship program- he said that I would be required to go to other schools, that I would have weekly meetings (check-ups), and that I would watch videos and analyze them. This was not true.
I went through the stages of grief all in one day. I came into my second job sobbing. I missed a delivery because I could not get myself together and my eyes were puffy and red. The owner was extremely kind and compassionate and listened to my upset sobs. Later on that day, I called up my friend and ranted about the unfairness of the entire situation and internship.
The coach was willing to tell me what my faults were but was unwilling to see where he lacked. There is a GA already in this position for next year, but he completely lacks everything the coach told me that I lacked in. This GA is not very hardworking, is not energetic, and is not always cueing– but the thing is, this GA is a MALE and he is the coach’s best bud. Of course it is easy to overlook your friend’s faults, especially if he is male and can connect to you better than someone else.
Ok. Rant over.
Yesterday was Good (Holy) Friday. I took off from the internship and spent time with God. It was the first time in what felt like months. I sung worship songs and played the guitar, read some scripture and meditated on Jesus’ death on the cross for my sins. I pictured the cross and what it really means– not just some necklace or tattoo, but what it really meant for Him to hang in shame, taking upon the world’s sins, and being forsaken by His Father.
Lately, I had been struggling to come to a conclusion of whether or not I should return to an all-girls Christian camp I had been a counselor at last summer. I weighed the pros and cons of going to this camp. I had been leaning more towards the cons, but somehow this entire internship and Good Friday had me thinking deeper of what really matters in life. My future job would have to wait because teaching the little children about Gods’ love is more important than my selfish desires of “stability.”
My life is worth more than this internship or what anyone else says about me. God values me and knows every hair on my head. In God’s grand scheme of things for my life, my failure of this exam and even this internship were placed there to teach me… to teach me to lean on Him. There was a purpose to these upsets in my life, He is leading me exactly where He wants me to be. I am not completely sure where that is, that has not yet been revealed, but I know that when I think back on this moment, I will have a testimony about this… maybe I will encourage someone else one day with my story.
God, I am not sure what I am doing with my life. I feel like I am in limbo… I often feel like I have no purpose. I am sorry for not including You in my plans, I know that only You can establish my steps. I desire to be in-tune with Your Holy Spirit. Lead me. Give me faith to trust what You say, because You ARE good, and Your love for me is great. I know I matter. I know I am worth it. I am Your daughter. Please help teach me what I need to know. And as we jump into the time of Your Resurrection, remind me of the true meaning of Resurrection Sunday. Amen.
Italics used for a “side-note.”