This is my first blog post, so I want to start by giving all of you some background on who I am, my story, and the purpose of this blog.
My name is Derrick Ball. I am from a small, blue-collar town in central Pennsylvania called DuBois. I am blessed to have had a fantastic upbringing. My family is truly incredible, four of my most favorite humans (mom, dad, and two younger sisters) on the planet. Without my parents’ guidance and support, I would not be the man I am today. They provided me with countless life lessons, opportunities, and experiences that dramatically impacted my life. I graduated from Slippery Rock University with a degree in Exercise Science and pursued a career as a Strength and Conditioning Coach, more specifically, a CrossFit Coach. In the two years following undergrad, I moved from Boston to New Jersey, New Jersey to Virginia Beach, and Virginia Beach to the Virgin Islands. Along the way, I worked in multiple CrossFit facilities including Reebok CrossFit ONE, CrossFit KLEW, and Reebok CrossFit St. Thomas. Each of these establishments provided valuable lessons and experiences regarding my career as a Strength and Conditioning Coach. While in my role as the Head Coach at Reebok CrossFit St. Thomas, I obtained a Graduate Assistantship at the University of Pittsburgh. The acceptance of this position changed the course of my career. While enrolled in the Health and Physical Activity graduate program at the University of Pittsburgh, I was also the Head Coach at Arsenal Strength, an up-and-coming CrossFit gym in Lawrenceville. Now this is where things started to get interesting.
Following the completion of my Master’s, I happened to hear that Pitt Strength and Conditioning was in search of an Interim Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the upcoming school year. I had zero collegiate experience, but I was confident in my knowledge and abilities as a Strength Coach, so I reached out to the Head Coach and scheduled an interview. Less than an hour after the interview, I received a call and was offered the position. My experience at Pitt was eye opening. Prior to coaching in the collegiate setting, I was convinced that being a Division I Strength Coach was the dream. I kept telling myself, “I’ll be happier if I work with elite athletes. The collegiate setting will be different. The athletes will care more about their health and performance, they will be more attentive to my instruction, and it will be a more rewarding experience,” but that wasn’t the case. Rather, I found myself feeling dissatisfied and demotivated. There was a missing piece to the puzzle, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. My contract at Pitt was scheduled to expire May 26, 2017. So I was desperately searching for my next coaching position. I spent months researching and applying to positions that I thought could be “the one,” you know, the “dream job.” After countless hours of prayer, submitting 30+ applications, and only receiving a handful of calls, I began to feel disheartened. However, like He often does, God had something much greater in mind; a path that He finally revealed to me in April 2017.
On April 26, 2017, I had my “Crossover Moment.” The “Crossover Moment” is a phrase that I borrowed from Eric Thomas, an educator and one the top motivational speakers in the world (If y’all don’t know his story, you have to check him out!). The “Crossover Moment” is a basketball analogy. As a kid, when you become proficient at dribbling the ball, you eventually learn the crossover (a move where the athlete rapidly switches the ball from one hand to another in order to make a change in direction). Like any skill, once you realize you’ve mastered it, that’s all you want to do until you learn something new. So for those of you who are not into sports and got lost in this analogy, think of the “Crossover Moment” as the “Ah Ha Moment.” Regardless of the context in which it happens, something clicks and a light bulb goes off.
So what was my “Crossover Moment” and what triggered it? That morning, I was watching Gary Vaynerchuk’s YouTube channel (If you haven’t heard of Gary V., got to YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook and check out his content ASAP). On the homepage, there was a video titled “How to Start.” This 12 minute and 28 second video changed my entire outlook on my career. The video addressed the following in regards to business:
How do you start? What are you going to talk about? What do you want to be known for? How are you going to communicate? Where is the market?
Immediately following the video, I watched three or four additional pieces of content from Gary V’s page. That was when the light bulb went off. I realized what my next step was, what God was calling me to do; I needed to open my own strength and conditioning facility!
So, why create a blog? In one of Gary V’s videos, he spoke about the importance of providing value. In regards to content, this means delivering valuable information (i.e., information that is applicable and benefits the audience). One of my strengths is writing. I have always been a great writer. Expressing my thoughts, emotions, and opinions with a pen and paper or a laptop is effortless. That being said, I believe this blog will be the vehicle in which I can provide valuable content at scale.