Earning Bullies

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life” – Winston Churchill.

The above quote accurately portrays my stance on those weak, insecure, lonely creatures we call ‘bullies’. If you seek to be exceptional, to be a leader, or to achieve success, there will always be a bully waiting to tear you down. Bullies want to be feared and obeyed. “You can’t do that!” they’ll tell you. “You’re not athletic enough” or “you’re not smart enough”. Bullies attack what frightens and confuses them: people who break the status quo and ignore their negative ignorance. If you find yourself being bullied, congratulations! You’re finally standing out instead of fitting in, embrace it and wear it as a badge of honor. I’ve been bullied before.  I’ve been bullied by white kids, black kids, girls, boys, men, and women. I’ve been bullied by rich kids, poor kids, and professional athletes. Bullying is everywhere. Bullies are grief merchants fueled by conflict, rejection, and insecurity.

I’ve got news for you: bullying exists at all levels of society, from preschool to the professional world. I was bullied for having knobby knees when I was ten, hand-me-down clothes when I was thirteen, big feet when I was twenty, and big nipples when I was 26. I’m still meeting bullies as a 35 year old man. This past May I published a blog post based on anecdotal evidence I gained through nearly a decade of working with professional athletes. The title of the blog was, “Hockey players: Your Strength Coach is Injuring You.” At the time, I received a lashing from a small little cult I now refer to as the Squat Mafia. Nearly 6,000 hits originated from a community of powerlifters who rabidly follow the programming of a self-proclaimed strength coach who I will not name. In an attempt to identify the source of their displeasure, I visited the “discussion” forum of their leader’s website. The forum had no shortage of insults for me: “idiot”, “loser”, “Mr. Caligiuri, the moron.” Classic pack mentality for a bully culture. One alpha wolf and 1000 sled dogs waiting for their time to feed. I beat my drum, they didn’t like my music, so they yelled, screamed, and did their best to shut me up.

We don’t define ourselves by how others see us, but rather by what we’ve learned and accomplished. As we say at SP, “we possess only what we have earned”. I’m 35 now. I am a Super Bowl XXXIX winning athletic trainer and strength coach. I utilize various experiences with NFL, NHL, MLB, MLL, MLS, and NCAA players to propel amateur and professional athletes to the next level. I have amassed 13 years of professional rehabilitation, injury prevention, and performance training (2 yrs. NCAA, 2 yrs. NFL, 5 yrs. NHL, 5 years Private sector) with over 600 high school, collegiate, elite, and professional athletes. I field phone-calls from strength coaches, athletic trainers, and athletes looking for insight, advice, and support on a weekly basis. We have adult conversations, often conflicting but always yielding a more beneficial conclusion.

More importantly, I’ve opened Stadium Performance. SP isn’t just the most advanced strength and conditioning facility in Boston. We are more. We are a culture that places extreme emphasis on social inclusion regardless of age, gender, ability, religion, sexual orientation, or race. We have a zero tolerance bullying policy and never grant any individual – staff, athlete, parent, or otherwise – the right to judge, comment, or impose opinions on anyone. Life inside the walls of Stadium Performance is not the real world, it is OUR world. It is our goal to harness the positive aura of an individual in a way that yields confidence and growth, both personally and athletically. Simply put, we are changing the way athletes change the world.

Whether the beat of my drum brings music to your ears or nails to your chalkboard is not a concern of mine. I possess two college degrees, have been mentored by the brightest minds in our industry, and although not always in agreement with our industry standards, I am always compliant and respectful to its governing bodies. I maintain certifications, accrue continuing education, and never miss an opportunity to learn. I have an evidence-based, scientific reinforced training methodology that reduces injuries, develops speed, and maximizes conditioning. This is my drum and I will continue to beat it.