Basically, all the factors mentioned in the previous post culminated in me and Coach Fitz having our first of 2 epic showdowns. Before I get to that, there is the little matter of Stacie the trainer to discuss. The story cannot be complete without understanding that after I would get my body beat up by the strength coach, I would seek solace in the training room in the form of massage, ice baths, etc. But at one point sophomore year the pain in my knee got to where I had to go to the training room everyday to get electrical stim and ice on my knee. Despite this, I was never able to get Stacie to stick up for me in my fight to be exempt from heavy squatting. She was very friendly with Coach Fitz, and was not keen on disagreeing with any of his philosophies. I am not an expert, all I know is that my knee hurt a lot, and it hurt even more when I did squats. Stacie would spin all these BS yarns about how I needed to maintain the strength in my leg (like i couldn’t do that other ways) and how squatting wasn’t that bad. I also found out the hard way that there is no such thing as athlete-trainer confidentiality. Many things I thought I was saying only to Stacie mysteriously ended up being used against me by Coach Fitz. (Lesson: Just because someone occasionally acts nice and has a hint of a warm southern accent does not mean they will not stab you in the back.)
So, one day in Spring 2007 I just decided enough was enough. I had hobbled through much of the season because the pain in my knee was too much to bear. I know there must have been other factors at play besides just squatting, but the lack of proper weight room training was clearly a major detriment to any healing process I might make in the off-season. At the beginning of our lift I simply told Coach Fitz that I wasn’t going to squat anymore. He became infuriated and threw me out of the weight room, telling me to go talk to the trainer and that if I wasn’t back before the end of the lift then I shouldn’t come back at all. So, I went to the training room and began explaining to Stacie what had happened. She was being very elusive with her answers, not revealing whether she supported me or Coach Fitz. We kind of just sat their in silence until Coach Fitz came bursting into the office and slammed the door. It was on.
At first it was a relatively peaceful discussion, but things turned nasty quick. It did not help when Stacie immediately cast her lot in the Coach Fitz camp, like the shameless, conviction-less weasel that she was. I tried to explain how the doctors thought I had a tear in my patellar tendon and that it might need to rest. Stacie countered, I kid you not, by saying “You know Drew, a torn tendon is like a torn shirt. If you just stick a torn shirt in the drawer it’s not going to heal itself.” Whaaaaaaaaat the F are you talking about???? What an irrelevant thing to say, not to mention the dubious medical traning she had to make such a proclamation. Apparently she does not know that unlike a cloth shirt, human tissues have been known to heal given time and rest. I couldn’t even really articulate a response to such lunacy. Stacie then took this genius apporach:
Her “If you had a torn tendon, it would hurt just to walk up the stairs!”
Me “IT DOES!”
Coach Fitz then went in about how I was somehow quitting on the team. He told me my actions made me a “coach killer,” insinuating that I was behind the firing of our coaching staff. Ya, I was unhappy with the staff, but I never talked to an administrator about it and never complained publicly. In his twisted mind the weight room proclivities of one 19 year old kid was more responsible for the ousting of a coaching staff then 18 straight losing seasons. He then openly threatened that I better watch out because a new coaching staff was was coming in and he was going to make sure sure they knew what a malcontent I was. He then told me that I am the kind of person who always looks for the easy way out. Now, this hit hard, because that is just a flat out, 100% lie. The fact that he could say that shows you how little he knew about me and how little he had been paying attention the last two years. My memory is not perfect on the whole ordeal, but at one point they were both literally shouting at me. I felt so beaten down and ganged up on I could not come up with clever or sarcastic things to say, which is what I would normally do under the circumstances. I remember saying how they had the complete wrong impression of me, and I kept repeating, over and over: “How do you guys care so much about this?? It’s just squatting! I am not asking to not lift, just not squat! Why is it so important to you?” I would get in response a diatribe about how a team lifts together and I shouldn’t be trying to get out of stuff. It ended with nothing being decided and me walking out.
I was able to find the email I sent my teammates after the incident, with this subject line:
Stacy+Fitz+Drew=battle to the death
It would be kinda hard to explain what happened in an email without making it too long, but it would be helpful if a majority of the people were there tomorrow at least 10-15 min before lift so that I could let everyone know what the deal is. I am hoping to convince you that I am not a (and you can guess who said this) “coach killer” who “always looks for the easy way out” with a questionable commitment to the basketball team. Ok, sorry if I pissed him off and he took it out on you guys. See ya tomorrow.
15 minutes later I got this confusing email from Coach Fitz. Subject line:
BE THE BEST
YOU SHOULD BE TRAINING WITH YOUR TEAM.
CELL (he wrote his cell number, but i guess i should not reproduce it. one of the 8 readers might try and harass him.)
Haha what the hell? Be the best? All caps? A cell number? Was he expecting me to call and apologize or something?
Things came to their tenuous settlement the next day when my teammate Darryl convinced me it would be better for all parties if I showed up at lift the next day. I attended the lift, and Coach Fitz pulled me aside and did one of those I’m gonna apologize without really saying I’m sorry things, but I could tell he was really worried. This was confirmed by him straight up saying to me: “Now, you could go to the athletic director and maybe get me fired…” not sure how the sentence finished, but it was something about how we needed to find a solution. Luckily for me he was concerned enough about the prospect of me reporting him that he succumbed to all my demands, and told me I would never have to squat for him again. Why he couldn’t have been that reasonable from the get go I will never understand.
The other epic showdown came at the start of senior year, although it was not nearly as intense as the first. All that really happened was I went into his office, no longer the intimidated sophomore of old, and said something like this:
“Ummm, I went to Texas this summer, and I learned a whole new way of working out, and my knee feels a lot better because of it. I am gonna be doing this workout instead of yours.”
As I guess was to be expected, he flipped out. I suppose how I handled it was a little rude, but considering our history I did not feel he deserved my utmost respect. Apparently me wanting to totally abandon his program was equivalent to me telling him I had killed his firstborn child. He simply could not handle such insubordination. When he resisted in heeding my demands, I told him that I feel good now, and all his workouts ever did was cause me pain. (Good god, writing this and looking back on it makes me understand the ridiculousness. It’s like I’m describing someone who molested me or something. Curse anyone out there who had a good relationship with their strength coach.) Once he realized I was not backing down from my stance he agreed to “re-write” my lifting card. I ended up crossing out everything I did not want to do and putting in a better excercise in its place. So I got everything I wanted, but this way he felt like he was a part of it.
I guess all he ever really wanted was to not feel useless. He felt threatened that I saw his arcane, pointless workouts for what they were. If he were exposed as the fraud that he was, someone who decreased athleticism and upped injury rates, he would be out of a job. Thus he fought me tooth and nail.
So who is the loser in all of this? All I know is that he left to become the head strength coach of an SEC football team (I try to avoid thinking about how this is possible for fear that my head will explode) and I have bigger arms, a smaller vertical, and advanced tendonosis in my left knee. Oh well, I can always take solace in eventually getting what I wanted, and in the fact that I have an IQ over 40.