NSCA’s Coaching Podcast, Season 6 Episode 17: Corliss Fingers

by Eric McMahon, MEd, CSCS, RSCC*D and Corliss Fingers
Coaching Podcast January 2023


This episode features Corliss Fingers, the Director of Strength and Conditioning at Bethune-Cookman University. She talks with NSCA Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager, Eric McMahon, about her journey in a predominantly male strength and conditioning profession. This episode speaks to the value of a strength and conditioning coach at the college level, as Fingers shares about preparing athletes in the extreme heat and humidity of Florida during pre-season football. She also recaps her presentation at the 2022 NSCA National Conference in New Orleans, LA, discussing representation around diversity, equity, and inclusion for athletes and coaches.   
You can reach out to Corliss on Twitter: @CorlissFingers or by email at fingersc@cookman.edu| Find Eric on Instagram: @ericmcmahoncscs or Twitter: @ericmcmahoncscs

Show Notes

“We don't have the things that some of the bigger school has, but I'm fine with filling in the gap. And a lot of it is just education, just giving them things that they can remember that's not too overwhelming, knowing that they have camp in place and getting ready for classes and hitting them over the head with a bunch of ratios of how much it-- no, OK. Let's put some color on your plate.” 13:07

“This is the place where we build young men and young women, not just strength-wise, but letting them own who they are, walking to their own life, finding their strength, finding the things that make them who they're going to be. Getting to work on time, applying yourself, teamwork-- you learn all that in the weight room.” 18:24

“If you approach it with the right attitude and mentality and just go out there, that you're going to make as many positive connections as possible, you're going to get that recommendation or referral that you're looking for, that you're willing to offer when someone just shows up and puts the time in.” 33:10

“But just in general, as young coaches, aspiring coaches entering the field, knowing your blind spots, knowing what experience you have and what experience you don't have that they might be looking for. And not every job is for you in that moment, but if you can recognize that, or if someone tells you, hey, we're looking for someone a little more well-rounded, you can go seek that out.” 36:40


[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING]

[00:00:04.41] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast, season 6, episode 17.

[00:00:10.68] This is the place where we build young men and young women, not just straight-wise, but letting them own who they are, walk into their own life, finding their strength, finding the things that make them who they're going to be, getting to work on time, applying yourself, teamwork-- you learn all that in the weight room.

[00:00:32.61] This is the NSCA's Coaching Podcast, where we talk to strength and conditioning coaches about what you really need to know but probably didn't learn in school. There's strength and conditioning, and then there's everything else.

[00:00:43.51] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I'm Eric McMahon. Today we're joined by Corliss Fingers. Corliss spoke at the NSCA National Conference in New Orleans a few months back. And we're excited to have her on the podcast today, coming from Bethune-Cookman University, the Director of Strength and Conditioning, working with the football team. We're in the middle of pre-season camp right now, Corliss, welcome.

[00:01:08.25] Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate it. Yes, middle of pre-season.

[00:01:12.93] Yeah, so I appreciate you taking the time to be with us, share a little bit about your story, your background. Why don't you kick it off that way? Just tell us how you got into the field of strength and conditioning and up to where you're at today.

[00:01:26.98] I got into the field by going to my advisor toward the end of my junior year to complain about student teaching. I was going to be a PE teacher. And I had just finished up my student teaching when I realized, I don't like kids. Like, they were a hot mess. That was tough, between trying to get their attention and executing the plan that I had put together, and it's not really going the same way I want it to go. But that's all I knew.

[00:02:01.75] I knew I still loved sports and working out and being in athletics. And I felt that was the only thing. Like, strength and conditioning with a concentration in education, I felt that was it. Not until I went to my advisor and said, you got to find something else. And he's like, it's your junior year. I'm like, I don't care we. Got to figure out something else. I can't do this.

[00:02:24.40] And when we looked at all the classes that I'd taken and what I had left, he said, well, we could switch you over to a concentration in wellness and fitness. I'm like, that sounds fine. Let's go with it, you know? And it just kind of took off from there.

[00:02:36.88] My love for everything how the body works, kind of played into that. Being an athlete at the collegiate level itself helped out. I knew the weight room. I think once I did all of that, I got a job at Spa Health Club personal training. And I started to really kind of get into this whole weight room thing.

[00:02:59.32] And here enters Jeff "Mad Dog" Madden, who's looking for someone to get the O-line and the D-line moving a little bit more, whether it's ballet, or some type of dance. And a couple of guys who had done some summer work at the club said, the lady that does the funk aerobics is pretty feisty. And if you're not in that class 45 minutes before it gets started, you're not going to find a seat. It's like a club. She got a DJ. I mean, lights are going. It is so much fun.

[00:03:30.20] So he came and checked it out. And he asked me if I'd be willing to work with the O-line and D-line that spring. They had just got there. Mack Brown had just got there. And I'm like, sure. He locked me in a room, and it took off from there.

[00:03:44.58] He loved the way I commanded the room. If I didn't like the way they-- the smallest thing in there-- I didn't like the way they were moving, we started over from the top. I didn't care. And he liked it. He was like, now that we're done with that-- that was the five weeks prior to spring ball-- he said, what is it that you really want to do? Like, you seem like you were good at that. I'm like, I want to do what you do, but women don't do that.

[00:04:06.49] Again, this was in 1993. And I had never seen a female strength coach. And so he was like, well, you know what? I got an opening. I got some change over to the sides, a little money I can throw you away. Won't be big, but let's see where it goes.

[00:04:23.08] And it is almost like the profession chose me. I didn't know it existed, and I didn't choose it. The profession chose me. So that's how I got my foot in the door was not like in my student teaching, or realizing that it's got to be something more. And Mad Dog being in the right place at the right time, and that's how I got my career started in strength and conditioning. 27, almost 28 years later, I'm still here.

[00:04:51.69] That's really interesting. I think it's more meaningful when you hear it from that path. Like a lot of coaches, we choose strength and conditioning for a lot of different reasons. But for many of us, it is a calling, something that draws us in, whether it was our athletic experience or just the connection with student athletes.

[00:05:16.43] That's what he said. He said that connection was something that he saw that you don't see often. And I did-- I ran track at the University of North Carolina. And I had been removed maybe two years. And he said just that Tar Heel connection, that former athlete connection, and just me not being easily intimidated, and I knew what I wanted to do-- I knew how I wanted it done.

[00:05:41.42] And if they weren't doing it the way I want it, I had no problem starting over until we got what I wanted out of it. So I chose me. He chose me. I didn't even know it existed. He kind of introduced me to it.

[00:05:53.45] Well, even today, there's not a lot of women doing what you're doing in the field, director of strength and conditioning, overseeing a football program at the Division I level. Want to talk a little bit about that today. Daytona Beach, here in the South, it's hot. It's humid. I could only imagine preseason camp down there is a little different. And just share your insight about how you prepare athletes for a football season ahead, given the increased demands of just that heat and humidity?

[00:06:29.99] Sure. Well, it starts out really with the athletes. My first year here, I'm doing all this extra prepping and realized, I didn't need it. These kids were used to it. I wasn't used to it. I'm the one passing out in the end zone. I'm like, what is going on? This extra layer of wetness on me is just ridiculous.

[00:06:50.43] Now, Coach, that's Florida. We're good. Like the athletes that are from here, they're used to it. So that's been helpful. I think this past week, the Northerners, our new Yorkers, our Jersey birds, they are struggling.

[00:07:07.43] So one of the things that we've done is, the summer training was huge this year with just getting them acclimated to the weather. We do a lot of our conditioning early morning, so I'm talking 6:00 in the morning out in the heat. We get it done. We've had practice first couple of days, at like the 11:00. And we got off the field by 1:00-- or I'm sorry. We started at 9:00, and we were off by 11:00, 11:30, just to kind of get them used to it.

[00:07:40.69] And then yesterday, was our first 2:00 practice. And today it'll be our second one. But we'll do walkthroughs maybe in the afternoon, just to get them used to being in that sun and that heat, but not extremely stressful yet. So just making the adjustments, speaking with the head coach and athletic trainer. We really, really work together. It's a well-oiled machine too.

[00:08:05.65] If I feel that it needs to be adjusted, I don't have a problem saying, hey, coach, we need to do this, or we need to do that, or we need to pull back. He said, I agree. Same thing with athletic trainer.

[00:08:15.31] But what I think that has been really successful about this-- we've got a lot of Florida guys on our roster. And this ain't nothing. They are so used to it. We take the slow progression in the beginning as far as not too much too soon with the reps. They said lots of water breaks.

[00:08:33.28] We have tents out there. And I swear, the people that are under the tents are the staff members that are not from here. And they're like, boy, it's a great day out here. I'm like, great day? It's 97 degrees with heat index of 105. They're like, yeah, maybe go to the beach a little later after practice. I'm going home to go to bed. Ain't nobody going to nobody's beach.

[00:08:53.17] They're used to it. So we've made adjustments. But it's not as needed as you would think because of the athletes that we have here. Definitely keep the hydration. And I try to educate them a lot on the food and the carbs, the things to eat during this time just to kind of help to have their body use-- there are certain things that they need to use as fuel for these practices that we're having.

[00:09:21.98] So we make the adjustments when needed. But I was so shocked that it's not as needed as much as it was when I was at Maryland. I struggled a lot. These Florida boys are something different.

[00:09:39.01] No, I like that. And there's a lot of checkpoints in there from a safety standpoint, just adjusting the schedule, paying attention to hydration, nutrition, keeping an eye on just the individual athletes, knowing where they're from--

[00:09:56.68] Exactly. Over the summer too.

[00:09:59.14] --who might be susceptible for heat illness or one of those types of things.

[00:10:05.56] I get the information from-- we have our physicals in the beginning. And we get our, who's got the sickle cell trait, who has the asthma. You keep all of that. And I think this summer helped out a lot as well, not just getting them used to this heat, but for me to get to know their bodies, and what they're capable of doing.

[00:10:23.92] Like, I actually had a guy who did start cramping. And I recognized it because he's always in the front, that pride on being in the front. Where all of a sudden now, he's in the middle of the pack when we're doing running. Hmm, this is not normal, not because he wasn't winning the sprints, because I know his speed. Come to find out his calves were cramping a little bit.

[00:10:44.59] OK. So now, A, he's not going to pull himself out. I got a chance to know him. He's not going to pull himself out. So now I'm going to like trainers and his position coach, keep an eye on him. Oh, like he's doing good. No, you thinking he's doing good because he's still in the top of the pack. But he wins all of them.

[00:11:01.76] So now that he's in the middle, something is bothering him. Come to find out, he was cramping a little bit. And then knowing his body type, knowing his body fat, knowing this other-- we need to sit him down. So I think that's where the strength coach part comes into play too, with knowing their speed, knowing their strength, knowing when it looks a little off and where we need to make the adjustments.

[00:11:23.76] Working at the Division I level, but it's a smaller school within Division I-- you still have some big boys out there. But keeping weight on is definitely a priority. And I think that's always a challenge during pre-season camp when you're building them up to the workload they're going to need to sustain over the season. Talk about nutrition a little bit and just how your role and the resources you have at the university play into that.

[00:11:49.95] We don't have a dietician. We don't have a nutritionist. I wear many hats. So I have to be mindful of who we have, what's going on. We do weigh them before practice and then weigh them again afterwards to see how much was lost and keep an eye on that, how much of a percentage is lost in sweat and water. Just today, I get a phone call, like, are you coming to the caf? I hadn't planned on. I got some stuff going on.

[00:12:22.53] You need to get over here. Why? What's going on? A, B, and C is not eating, when yesterday you came over here and you did this whole spiel in the cafeteria on what to eat, what not to eat, what's red light, what's green light. And they just say they're too tired, or there's nothing good that they like or the line is too long.

[00:12:41.50] So that's why I come in. Like, I know their bodies, kind of give them a little education. I have had guys lose a lot. And one of the guys was like, you need to get over here. He's already lost 7 pounds in the past five days, and I can't afford for him to lose anymore. So now we've got to play the whole, all right, if we take this from this line and put it on top of a salad, and then we add this on to, sprinkle little olive oil over top all of that-- it's many hats.

[00:13:06.42] So yes, we don't have the things that some of the bigger school has. But I'm fine with filling in the gap. And a lot of it is just education, just giving them things that they can remember that's not too overwhelming, knowing that they have camp in place and getting ready for classes and hitting them over the head with a bunch of ratios of how much it-- no, OK. Let's put some color on your plate. I need some type of starch.

[00:13:35.09] And explain why they need it-- how the body reacts to them eating a lot, or eating less, or running a lot, or sweating a lot. And practice day' at 2:00. You know it's going to be hot, so I'm going to need for you to go get the rice. I don't care if it's only 2 tablespoons. Let's add a little something to it. Put it on your burrito.

[00:13:56.33] Yeah, many, many hats-- you got to educate them as much as I can. And I try to keep it stupid simple.

[00:14:02.93] It sounds like you have a really great relationship with your team, with your players. And maybe this scenario of some limited resources plays into that a little bit, where you're able to get a different type of access than if you had even more resources that a whole team of nutritionists or dieticians for example, that would take that out of your job responsibility.

[00:14:30.04] But that's something to think about for coaches is that, when we get into these roles, we always want more resources, and the ability to give more to our teams more to our athletes. But when we do that, our relationships with our players, with our coaches, it changes.

[00:14:46.84] It does. It really does. I think that I have a better relationship with them just because I don't have all of that. And that's where the mom comes in sometimes. I'm able to know who's the vegans, who's the Presbyterians and don't eat certain things, who are the vegetarians and why. Is it religious reasons? Is it just they had an incident at some point? Do they have certain things they may not share with their coaches like, well, diabetes runs in my family. You know every male on my side of the family has died. I'm trying to do everything I can to combat this.

[00:15:22.37] So I've changed my diet so that I can live longer. I lost my father when I was a certain-- so that type of stuff-- we call this the dungeon. The weight room is the bottom of the building. So in the dungeon, anything goes. It's like, I do not control the starting roster, the travel. I don't control any of that. So I'm an equal opportunity offender.

[00:15:44.34] So here, you either work hard or you don't. It's going to show. So they're able to share with me a little bit more. And I'm able to connect with them. They don't have to be so hardcore and you know, I'm a lion, you know, I eat meat. No, I don't like meat. I'm a vegetarian.

[00:15:59.46] Like, I'm OK with being 300 and some pounds asking for tofu instead of, you know. Do you have any tofu back there? So because they shared this stuff with me, it allows me to have a different relationship with them and then return the same.

[00:16:13.82] So if I've taken the time to say, hey, listen, I got some samples from a supplement company. They sent me these vegan protein bars. I saved a box for you. That goes a long way. So now, I'm looking at his nutrition. I'm trying to make sure he puts the right amount of weight on and maintain a certain health, because I care enough about that.

[00:16:35.53] When he comes in the weight room is, coach, what you need from me? Eyes are locked in. I can ask him to run through this wall, five sets. He's like, OK, I got you. Because I care enough to know what he needs, I get the return. And I'm going to care enough about me to give me what I need.

[00:16:51.89] So I think not having all of the resources the other has, make me a more effective strength coach. Because if you don't have those connections, you get nothing. You're wasting your time. They're wasting their time. I'm wasting mine. You got to have those connections to have them more productive in the weight room.

[00:17:09.45] A little bit more on the leadership side now. At the 2022 NSCA National Conference you spoke about preparing better staff and athletes. Not holding them back was one of the themes that came through there. And that comes through today with what you're saying-- let them be themselves, and you adapt and find ways to help them and meeting them where they're at. Talk about your session a little bit. Share some of the highlights for us.

[00:17:39.77] I guess what I was trying to get out actually was received. When the old folks say, are you picking up what I'm putting down, people actually picked up what I put down, because I've gotten emails. I've gotten phone calls. I've got like thank you. I didn't even think about it.

[00:17:56.00] So what I was trying to say is, you want to make sure you have people on your staff to connect with the people that are coming in the weight room. If you have a staff of all males, and they're over the entire strength and conditioning department, then that female tennis player is going to feel a little uncomfortable. That women's basketball player, that softball player might feel uncomfortable coming to, again, we're in a dungeon. We're equal opportunity offenders.

[00:18:24.46] Like, this is the place where we build young men and young women, not just strength-wise, but letting them own who they are, walking to their own life, finding their strength, finding the things that make them who they're going to be. Getting to work on time, applying yourself, teamwork-- you learn all that in the weight room.

[00:18:44.95] But you also got to connect with somebody in there. So if there's no one on this staff that looks like me, it's going to be hard for me to go in there and give my all every day, because it's just another little box that I got to check off that I did. I'm just another number on a roster.

[00:18:59.03] So what I was trying to say is, have more members on your staff that connect with whoever you got coming in here, whether it's a female, a Black female, a Black male, even males that work with all-women's sports. That's fine. If he is the gymnastics coach and he's the best there is, wonderful. But let there be another female somewhere on staff that she can come up to and say, hey, do you a tampon? Stuff like that happens.

[00:19:31.70] You're in the middle of doing squats and all of a sudden, you're like, I need to ask somebody for something. If the entire strength and condition of staff is male, you're not getting the most out of that tennis player, because she don't feel comfortable just asking anybody for anything. So you're holding her back because she's not able to come in that room and really grow, really develop.

[00:19:50.48] I don't want to have the big traps and the big shoulders. Same thing with the staff members. And I was the only one that looked like me for 15 years. That was extremely lonely. That was lonely.

[00:20:04.07] It would have been great if there was another female on staff. It would have been great if there was another Black person on staff, someone that I can at least share strengths or weaknesses or excitement or disappointments with. But I came to work for 15 years, and I was a bad ass. I did my job. I made national championship. It was great.

[00:20:25.14] But it was very lonely at times when you spend 50, 60 hours a week in that same building with those same people. So you're holding back members of your staff from being great. Like, I know I was good and I was great, but I could have been a whole lot better if I didn't have to spend 90% of my time making others feel comfortable around me. Does that make sense?

[00:20:53.62] And honest people say, years later, I'm comfortable enough to say, the majority of my time was making others feel comfortable around me. Can't be too Black. I talk with my hands. I'm very animated. I'm excited.

[00:21:09.06] You don't know if I'm talking about my son, if I'm talking about the weather, or if you missed a whole set of squats and I'm mad. Everything is the same tone. But I find myself, OK, hold onto your hands because you've been told others think that you're aggressive. All right.

[00:21:28.28] You've been told that we're taking team pictures today or tomorrow, are you going to wear your hair like that? Things like that took place, yes. So if there was another Black person on the staff, I would have been like, can you believe I was just ask, am I going to wear my hair like this? I guess I'm going to have to, you know-- stop holding them back.

[00:21:47.96] I'm not going to say I was held back. But I think I probably would have blossomed a lot faster if I would have had that confidence of knowing I wasn't the only one in the room with that elephant, that only person. Same thing with the athletes. I try to keep a male on staff. I got the Black and I got the female covered. But I just hired Hunter Ann. She went to Toledo. She's great. She's learned.

[00:22:16.43] So now, my small percentage of non-Black athletes have somebody to connect to. I don't but like three or four of them. But guess what? There's somebody on staff that looks like them. I think it's important to have representation. That's what I was trying to get across is just, representation is huge to allow our students to feel safe and need it and want it and appreciate it, because they do.

[00:22:45.45] They spend so much time in the strength and conditioning department. We see them more than their sport coaches do at certain times of the year. I don't like this weight thing to be a chore. It cannot be a chore. I want them to hit that door with excitement.

[00:23:00.89] All right, today is the day that I am one step farther to reach my goals. There is someone in that weight room that cares about me enough to connect with me to help me reach my goals. All my strength coaches were male, white males. They didn't understand my big butt. Like, you're going to need to trim down a little bit.

[00:23:21.98] My mom hooked up with my dad. I can't control genetics. Like, I can't go back and say, can you find somebody to help me have a less big butt or hamstring? I was a sprinter. I'm supposed to have hamstrings and a "ba-donkey-donk." But I had male strength coaches.

[00:23:41.86] My eating disorder started because someone told me I was too big. So I think representation is what I was basically trying to get at, is don't hold them back. Let them grow. Let them develop.

[00:23:56.32] The value of representation is the term we hear-- we've heard a lot lately. We got deep real quick right there.

[00:24:04.36] Sorry.

[00:24:05.56] I think I have to give a shout out to Leanne Blinn. She always talks about how you keep it real. And I like that you're keeping it real here on the podcast for us. A couple of things-- you know, we hear, and it's almost become a buzzword, as coaches, we need to have great relationships with our players. But what you're talking about is making people feel comfortable and welcome when they walk in the door throughout the session, as things are going.

[00:24:41.71] And there are layers there that no matter how great a strength coach you are, are hard to triage, hard to fully understand if you don't have a similar background as one of our athletes coming in the door. And I think there's a great point to be made there. You mentioned being lonely as a professional at times in this field. And what popped in my head is that this field-- we're in a team environment a lot of time, but it can be very isolating.

[00:25:14.87] And it's something where you're isolated because you're not making the money you think you might want to make, or hard to find a job. You're being held back because you can't find an opportunity. Jobs are hard to find.

[00:25:30.40] You're working long hours, but maybe not doing the things that you think you should be doing or you think are on your level at various stages. And I think that is something-- and other words you used was confidence, basically building confidence. It applies to the players. We want to build their confidence to go out to the field and play.

[00:25:52.90] But it takes a certain level of confidence to progress to this field, this progression. And you keep taking hits. You keep wearing the stress of the field. And it chips away at that confidence and your ability to keep progressing as a coach to be able to serve those athletes. So yeah, we got deep there, but you touched on a lot of things. I thought that was really good.

[00:26:20.15] I do want to ask you, you can keep it real for young coaches now entering the profession, what advice do you think they need to hear? You've seen the field progress and evolve. What do young coaches getting into the profession today need to hear to be successful in the long run?

[00:26:40.71] You don't know as much as you think you know. I'm still learning. 20, almost 27, 28 years later, I'm still learning. I still pick brains of other strength coaches. Like, young and old, I'm always learning.

[00:26:56.76] And what I'm finding it with some of the young ones-- this generation, I call them COVID kids-- but this generation feels entitled. And they feel that as soon as they get out of grad school, I should be making this amount of money. I should be working at this big-time program, all because I got my degree from here and I worked under so-and-so.

[00:27:17.70] You're not as smart as you think you are. You're not as good as you think you are. You're young and dumb. If you keep that in your front of your mind, you'll keep trying to grind and get better, right? So if you think you're already as good as you can possibly get, you're just not-- you're good. Like, no.

[00:27:37.68] I don't think I'm there yet. I still got like some serious years ahead of me, and I'm still growing. So basically, pick up the phone go visit somebody else. You know, I did an internship. I did a grad shift. I'm ready for that new job. No, not really.

[00:27:55.20] Now, I'm not asking you to go work somewhere for free. What I'm asking you to do is learn from others. Broaden your horizons, especially females, because we don't get the opportunities as much as the males. I mean, it's just, it is what it is. A lot of coaches like, I want somebody who played the sport.

[00:28:14.16] Well, I didn't play football. But I'm a good strength coach for football. So I got lucky. But a lot of them want somebody who played the sport. You're not going to have that opportunity.

[00:28:23.82] But what you do have, is you have the ability to learn from someone else. So when the females are a GA, I don't know, down the street at Stetson, what advice do you have? Go to all the schools in the area. Pick their brain.

[00:28:38.77] Now, yeah, you got long days already. But if you call over to-- because right here, we have Bethune-Cookman, we have Stetson, we have Embry Riddle that are right here in the area. I am constantly calling-- hey, send your people over here. Send them over here. Come learn. You don't have football.

[00:28:55.11] Come over here. Let me show you what we do. It's going to be early in the morning. I know you may have a full day, but come watch how we do stuff. Come pick my brain, then go back.

[00:29:03.82] If you've got some time later in the afternoon, baseball comes in. They're the best sport to watch play because they do things different. Don't be afraid to go learn from somewhere else. So what you're not getting paid for it.

[00:29:16.74] Like, even the high school level-- there's some big-time strength and conditioning programs at some of these high school. Go down the street to a high school. Hey, I just want to bring my notepad and just watch you work. And if you don't mind at the end, I ask you some questions. OK, hey, coach, that was great. Tell me why you super set shoulder press with snatch.

[00:29:34.50] You know, you're learning. But you're also showing that coach that you're interested, you're engaged. They may have something for you. We know everybody. Like, you don't know who they know. I've helped people get jobs that I've never worked with. They just happen to call me all the time-- hey, can we do a quick Zoom? I got some ideas that I want to bounce off of you. Or can I Zoom you with my lifting session and you see how I got it set up? Absolutely.

[00:30:01.35] So now, I get a colleague to call me and say, hey, I got an entry-level position. Do you know anybody? As a matter of fact, I know somebody. Never worked with them, but here's her name. I've been in contact with them for almost a year, just off and on. That goes a long way.

[00:30:19.89] Like, there's other ways to get your name on that resume on top of everybody else's. And it's not always what you're doing where you're at. It may be who you know that can vouch that you are still learning, that you're OK with thinking outside the box. Like, I think sometimes folks think, well, in these days and age, I ain't working for free. I'm not asking you to work for free. I'm asking you to learn, to invest in your own career by calling up some other people and asking if it's OK if I just come spend a week in your weight room.

[00:30:57.70] I think folks know that I'm all right with that, because I get those all the time. You know, I'm a high school coach. I'm 45 minutes away, but I'm a high school coach and I heard that you allow us to come in and pick your brain. Absolutely. Here's our training time. We've got baseball here, softball here, volleyball here, tennis here, which time you got?

[00:31:16.48] Well, only got like two hours from 4:00 to 6:00. Perfect, baseball will be training at that time, followed by a second group of men's basketball. Come in and watch. I don't need you to coach. I just need you come in and watch.

[00:31:28.21] Well, that turned, not only for a week, into two weeks, into a whole semester. They're coming and they're doing something like intern, but not really. Like, coach, let me help you set up. At the end, that was great. I loved it.

[00:31:41.77] Hey, I'm applying for x amount of job wherever. Tell them to call me. I can put in a good word for you because I've seen you watch. I've seen how engaged you are.

[00:31:51.75] So the young people don't know as much as they think they know. But if you really want to do this, you'll spend more time doing it, not where you are, but other places. I learn the most when I go somewhere else. And not just a clinic or conference, but high schools.

[00:32:14.91] And we don't have soccer. But yet and still, there's things that strength coaches are able to do with soccer players the transfer to some of the other sports that I'm doing. I think the things that I do with my D-lineman, I learned from working with men's wrestling. Like, the grip and the things that they do, it's crazy. And so I had to learn how to train a wrestler. And so the things that we did in the weight room were phenomenal.

[00:32:40.14] Well, guess what? I could apply some of that to our D-lineman. It's a crossover. So get out there and learn from somebody else.

[00:32:48.30] That's a strong point coming from working with football. And that's a sport everybody knows you're working with, but using that multi-sport mindset.

[00:32:58.35] Yes, sir.

[00:32:59.13] Maybe strength and conditioning started with more on the Olympic side. We have more single-sport strength coaches today. Young coaches, I always say, you have every advantage. Nobody sees you coming. If you approach it with the right attitude and mentality and just go out there, that you're going to make as many positive connections as possible, you're going to get that recommendation or referral that you're looking for, that you're willing to offer when someone just shows up and puts the time in.

[00:33:30.34] Because we all need help. We all need help in our weight room, whether it's setting up-- there's a huge community within strength and conditioning. And I think it can get a little heated at times. The Twitter battles kind of come in to the weight room, maybe a little too often.

[00:33:48.78] But one thing I've experienced, and I think you'd agree with this is that for the most part, we're all pretty welcome to those reaching out to us, making connections. We didn't just choose this field for ourself, and we certainly didn't choose it for the money. But we chose it to advance the profession, to give back to the experiences we had maybe that was as an athlete or as a young coach, that hey, in this profession, I'm going to make it better than I found it.

[00:34:21.21] And work with another sport. If you got all-male sports on your resume, go to another place where you can get exposed to female sports, because those power five, strength, football-only strength and conditioning jobs, they don't come that often. But a director or a system director at a FCF school, you're going to have to learn to work with.

[00:34:45.94] So I had a guy call me mad because I did not choose him as a finalist in a position I had open for interview, because I sent him a little email-- thank you, but right now-- you do understand that I was at "the" Ohio State working with football? And this is a few years ago.

[00:35:06.96] I'm like, yes, I can read. I saw that. But here, you're going to help with football, but you're also going to have to work with track and field. You're also going to have to work with tennis. You're also going to have to work with baseball.

[00:35:20.55] So here's the thing, our baseball-- Spanish is the first language. Tennis, most of them are foreign. Softball, baseball-- that all-football resume does nothing for me. I need to know that know how to work with a multitude of athletes from culture differences, personality, and weakness. I mean, you can't just start your first warm up with 135 with the tennis team. Like, most of those young women have never been in a weight room. They've been playing tennis since they could pick up a racket.

[00:35:54.37] But you're all-football experience is not going to help them. It's going to make them feel intimidated, scared, and definitely not want to come in. So I look for that or resumes. I look for multi-sports.

[00:36:07.18] I don't look for just big-time football programs. That's not going to help me, because you're going to make my patient track athlete feel less worthy, not by your mouth, but maybe by your-- is that all you could do? Come on. Let's put this weight on. No, I can't do it. Put the weight on.

[00:36:24.40] You know what I'm saying? Like, I've made the mistake before. So these up-and-coming strength coaches are looking-- you got to get a little bit more under your belt than just one sport.

[00:36:36.58] When you're applying for jobs, this is important. But just in general, as young coaches, aspiring coaches entering the field, knowing your blind spots, knowing what experience you have and what experience you don't have that they might be looking for. And not every job is for you in that moment. But if you can recognize that, or if someone tells you, hey, we're looking for someone a little more well-rounded, you can go seek that out.

[00:37:03.01] And for different coaches, that might be just what you need, just to get that feedback. This was a lot of fun. I want to be respectful of your time. I know you got to get back to practice here. But for anyone listening in, what's the best way to reach out if they have questions for you?

[00:37:21.73] I'm on the website. Go to Bethune-Cookman University on the athletic directory. I am right there under the conditioning. There are three names there. So email me, call me. Our office phone goes straight to my cell phone. I am reachable at all times. So email, text, you can even text to office line, on Twitter, I think it's CorlissFingers.

[00:37:49.30] And I think that's about it. I don't do all the other ones. I know the kids keep-- you on Instagram, you on TikTok? I'm going to do it one day. But those are the best way to get in contact me. Call me.

[00:37:59.71] All right, we'll get you up to speed on the social media game here soon.

[00:38:04.04] I don't have time. They'll be in here all the time, Coach Fingers, you got me doing 375 on Squats again. Can I turn it into a TikTok?

[00:38:13.53] That's the new role of the coach to hold the phone-- hold the phone and get the--

[00:38:17.59] Yes! OK, I say, I got a coach. You can still hold the phone. You can coach me.

[00:38:24.18] Well, thanks for being with us today. Really appreciate it.

[00:38:26.38] You're welcome. Let me know if you have anything else.

[00:38:29.49] That was Corliss Fingers, everybody. Appreciate everyone tuning in for the episode. And special thanks to Sore Necks Exercise Equipment. We appreciate their support.

[00:38:39.60] Hi, this is 2022 NSCA Professional Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year, Dan Dalrymple. Thanks for listening to The NSCA Coaching Podcast, the top resource to hear relevant stories and insights from great coaches like you. To always get the latest episodes delivered right to your phone or computer, subscribe on iTunes, or look up the NSCA Coaching Podcast on your favorite podcast platform. Also, go to nsca.com to join the NSCA at an upcoming conference or clinic.

[00:39:12.25] This was the NSCA's Coaching Podcast, the National Strength and Conditioning Association was founded in 1978 by strength and conditioning coaches to share information, resources, and help advance the profession. Serving coaches for over 40 years, the NSCA is the trusted source for strength and conditioning professionals. Be sure to join us next time.

[00:39:30.82] [MUSIC PLAYING]

Reporting Errors: To report errors in a podcast episode requiring correction or clarification, email the editor at publications@nsca.com or write to NSCA, attn: Publications Dept., 1885 Bob Johnson Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80906. Your letter should be clearly marked as a letter of complaint. Please (a) identify in writing the precise factual errors in the published podcast episode (every false, factual assertion allegedly contained therein), (b) explain with specificity what the true facts are, and (c) include your full name and contact information.

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Eric L. McMahon, MEd, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F,*D, RSCC*E

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Eric McMahon is the Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager at the NSCA Headquarters in Colorado Springs. He joined the NSCA Staff in 2020 with ove ...

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Corliss Fingers

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