June 08 , 2012
Gary Reed is a 2-time Olympic athlete and the current Canadian record holder for the 800m run. He was the fourth-fastest human being in the world for the 800m run at the last Olympic Games in Beijing 2008. He’s fast. Before I even met him I wanted to know how would an Olympic athlete of his caliber score on the FMS.
Gary was speaking at Think Thursday’s last Thursday which is a local Meetup of entrepreneurs and local business owners in Port Moody. It was there I had the opportunity of meeting with Gary for the first time. He spoke about having the “athlete’s mentality” and stopping at nothing to achieve your goals and how that mindset can be applied not only to athletics, but to business, relationships, and family life. “What would you do and what would you sacrifice to take your reality (if it’s not already your ideal) and change it to your ideal?” That’s a deep question…
As the evening went on, I found out that Gary was from my hometown Kamloops, BC and that he knows a few fellas I knew growing up from my alma mater Westsyde Secondary School. Small world. It immediately got me thinking about my experience with how difficult it seemed for a young athlete to follow their dreams of a sport coming from a small town. I played basketball during high school and back then if you played college then you basically “made it”. Why was that? Why wasn’t there a path laid out to follow to the NBA like there is with hockey to the NHL? How did Gary do it for track? He must’ve had some pretty inspirational coaches, mentors, and a well laid out path. Are there coaches and mentors that care that much today? There must be some path to follow during the developmental years in a young athlete’s career. I figured there was but Gary said he believes that coaches today are operating at only 50% capacity. He’d know as today he ‘s retired from competition but continues to work with many athletes and coaches at various levels from high school to club teams.
Maybe there’s a lack of motivation because there’s no clear path for coaches (in many sports) to take their athletes to the next level so “what’s the point?”. Maybe it’s the lack of pay as they’re typically doing this on a volunteer basis? Maybe it’s because parents yell at the coach for not playing their kid enough? Who knows?
Gary experienced firsthand the daily struggles faced by our Canadian athletes so he wanted to give back. He founded the Reed Athletics Fund to provide financial support to Canadian Olympic hopefuls in the sport of track and field during the developmental phases of their careers. He’s passionate about youth athletic development.
A week later, we connected again and decided to meet up at Body Tune in Yaletown which is owned and operated by another mutual friend and personal trainer Jon Sawatski. I still wanted to find out how Gary scored on the FMS but now I was more interested in continuing our conversation about the current state of Canadian youth athletics from a coaching and mentoring standpoint.
His FMS was very good as I suspected. I know I’m supposed to go in with an unbiased view but you kind of figure an elite-Olypmian is probably functional compared to most weekend warriors. Long story short, he scored a 17 with no imbalances but with bi-lateral 1’s on the active-straight leg raise. Imagine if he scored at least bi-lateral 2’s. That would mean more potential for capacity to produce power. After I assessed his weakest link, I took him through some corrective exercises (both mobility and motor control drills) and we made immediate change to the movement pattern. This was a very awesome experience for me and I was grateful and honored for the opportunity to work with Gary.
After our session we went for sushi to continue our conversation or brainstorming session really. We started by identifying the problem.
“I’ve heard of some schools cutting out physical education and even recess in the curriculum! What’s that about?”
“I know of a school that couldn’t find a track coach so they got rid of the team”. “What?! Really?” “Yeah but my friend stepped up and volunteered to take over the squad.”
I thought of my kids and how tragic it would be if they didn’t have the option to play high school sports because of the lack of passionate coaches or lack of funding or something else. That would be terrible. Something’s definitely missing in youth athletic development nowadays and we figured it’s due to the lack of people caring about that particular aspect in youth development. We want to change that somehow and we came up with some preliminary ideas that start with identifying strength coaches, coaches, trainers, and parents who really care and are willing to work with these kids on a volunteer basis. We’re thinking:
- Mulit-sport development for youth,
- High-level of coaching and training,
- One amazing facility that parents can take their kids after school, and
- Free! or by donation.
The structure of the idea is still in its infancy but we’re excited to be joining Gary on this truly innovative initiative and I believe we’ll do something great for young athletes in the Lower Mainland. Perhaps the model can be used across the province. We’re up to challenge of doing whatever it takes to takes to turn this reality and into an ideal.
In fact, Engineered Bodies is working to finalize the details with Aaron’s high school basketball team as we offering them strength and conditioning and training for their team. In return for our services, we’d like the athletes to provide some non-perishable food items for our local food bank. This is our way of giving back to the sport and community we love.
I’d love to hear your comments on this blog and whether you’re one of those people who’d like to see some positive change with youth sports development in Canada.