Reflecting on My Time at Cressey Sports Performance

DISCLAIMER: The following is a series of anecdotes from my experience as an intern at Cressey Sports Performance. If there's one takeaway from this whole blog, it's directed towards young, aspiring fitness professionals ready to take their career to the next level. If you're serious about discovering your true potential, I HIGHLY recommend you look into applying for this internship. It's been life-changing for me, and it will be for you as well.

It's amazing how quickly seven months can fly by.

I graduated from Queens College on May 28th with my Bachelor's in Exercise Science and Nutrition. That same day, while sitting through lunch with my family, my phone vibrated with an email from Cressey Sports Performance. I had officially been accepted into their fall internship program. Believe it or not, graduating college was the second biggest accomplishment for me on that day, as landing this internship had been a goal of mine ever since I learned what CSP was. Yes, that's not a joke. My four years of college had been trumped by an unpaid internship.

On August 23rd, I left my hometown Astoria, New York behind for Hudson, Massachusetts, a small town that is home to Cressey Sports Performance. This was a huge deal for me because I chose to attend a local college and had never been away from home for an extended period of time. Although I was beyond excited for the opportunity to intern at one of the best strength and conditioning facilities in the country, I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't afraid of leaving my family, friends, and clients behind.

After four hours in my beat up Ford Explorer, I made it to CSP where I was greeted warmly by members of both the full-time staff and summer intern class. It took all of five minutes for me to feel welcomed into the tight-knit community that had been developed under this roof. Pete Dupuis, Vice President and Business Director, gave me a quick, but helpful rundown on the neighborhood of Hudson. On the training floor, Tony Bonvechio, one of CSP's full-time strength coaches, generously went out of his way to get to know more about me. Through our initial conversation alone, I learned that he used to live in New York while studying for his Master's degree at Adelphi University, and played Division II baseball in the Northeast region like myself. The more I spoke to these guys, the greater my excitement grew towards pursuing this new chapter in my life.

Arguably, my favorite part of the internship was the fact that each passing day was responsible for a new opportunity to learn. When working hands-on with clients and athletes from all walks of life, it's practically impossible to not walk away from CSP a better coach.

You quickly learn in the trenches that you have to be quick and concise with your coaching, and this is where I believe I grew exponentially. Getting to the point is something I will admittedly tell you I've struggled with previously. Constant exposure to the exercises prescribed at CSP have helped train my eye for common flaws. Coaching seven hours daily has also allowed me to get innovative with my cues in order to troubleshoot any issues that might arise. Just like with everything else, coaching takes a ton of practice in order to be successful.

Being on the training floor on an everyday basis by itself will make you better at coaching. There's no argument that can defend otherwise. Along with the hours logged on the floor, the intelligent and approachable coaches on the CSP staff leave you no choice but to develop your craft from their insight. Every one of them is open to questions and supportive to our development as professionals. Whether it was understanding the anatomy of the shoulder, and how we apply this knowledge to our training modalities, or sitting in on the weekly in-service and learning how to become a better writer, each time I stepped through the doors I felt like I was a better coach than the previous day.

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With this ongoing learning opportunity came the trust of working with CSP's clients and athletes without constant supervision of a full-time coach. This sense of autonomy allowed me to better hone my craft and what I feel makes my training style unique. If you know me personally, you know I try to make training as enjoyable as possible. If we don't have a good time while training, why even bother?

At previous internships, I was limited to just observing in certain situations, which I believe inhibits untapped potential. This isn't the case at CSP. From the first week on, the training wheels were taken off and we were allowed to coach. This idea of trust from my superiors gave me a huge boost of confidence with my coaching repertoire. 

The biggest take-away from my time at CSP is the importance of critical thinking. Miguel Aragoncillo hammered the concepts of critical thinking into my brain on an everyday basis. It's never okay to settle with just getting by. To be honest, this is a notion that I have been guilty of in the past. Instead, I have challenged myself to transition from the mindset of being, "good enough" to figuring out ways to improve

In a results-based industry, it's crucial to find any means of improvement that embrace high-reward outcomes with low-risk procedures. In a sport like baseball, for example, a couple of miles per hour on a pitcher's fastball could be the difference between a multi-million dollar contract or being undrafted. Situations like this call for us as strength coaches to be on top of our game. Regardless of who the individual might be, whether it's a weight-loss client or the next number one draft pick in the NFL, we should all think critically about how we can improve their lives and help them reach their goals as efficiently as possible.

My time at CSP has been life-changing. This might sound heavily exaggerated to you reading this, but I truly do mean it. There are so many memories and lessons that I have taken away from this internship that have made me a better coach and an even better person. With that being said, there are a ton of people that I would like to thank for making this longtime goal of mine become a reality.

I have to start by thanking my family and friends back home in New York. They have supported me each and every day since I've accepted this position. Leaving the only place you've ever called home for the first time was extremely daunting at first. Their encouragement towards my ambitions made this process a heck of a lot easier. In the end, as you can tell, it was well worth it.

Secondly, I'd like to thank the CSP staff for welcoming me with open arms. Pete, Eric, Stacie, Chris, Tony B., Tony G., Greg, Miguel, Andrew, Matt, Nancy and George have made this whole experience fun and well worth the time and monetary investment. The relationships I've developed both inside and outside on the CSP network wouldn't be possible without all of you. Without getting too sappy (shed a tear, Zomberg), I have a surplus of memories that will last a lifetime from this place, and I can't thank you guys enough for that.

Last but not least, I'd like to thank my fellow interns Janelle, Mike, Eric, and Ricky for forming the CSP Dream Team and making work enjoyable day in and day out. Each one of you has a bright future based on your personalities and work ethic. It was an absolute pleasure working and growing alongside you guys. I'm excited to see where this journey takes each one of us in the upcoming years.

Seven months later, here we are closing another chapter and getting ready to open up another one. Cressey Sports Performance has permanently changed my life, and I cannot thank everyone involved enough for that. Happy New Year to all of my readers, I have a couple surprises up my sleeves for all of you!