40 Years with a Whistle

When I was a child, people used to tell me that “your life flashes before your eyes” just before you die. As I was writing 40 Years with a Whistle, I laughed a few times out loud as my past kept flashing before my eyes.

“All in all, this wasn’t a bad life, but I would prefer to live a bit longer”

This book has been ruminating in my brain for a while.

In 2011, I popped open my first lifting journal from 1971 and realized I had been keeping track of my workouts for 40 years. So, I wrote a two-part article on the lessons I had learned (Part One, Part Two); very simply, it was 40 lessons from 40 years.

Last summer as I was coaching next to a throwing cage at St. Mary’s in Twickenham, London, a local coach asked me how I could “see all of this.” I responded, “Well, you know, I have been doing this for…”

It took me a minute to figure out that I had been standing in fields, yelling in weight rooms and making half-time adjustments for the past 40 years.

Maybe it’s my background in religious studies and education, but 40 years always seems to get my bells ringing. Walking back to my place that night, I kept trying to figure out how the 40 years had gone by so fast.

In a flash, so to speak.

Everything coalesced when Ron McKeefery asked me to write the introduction to his book, Weight Room Wisdom. As I thought about wisdom in the weight room, it was obvious that my coaching methods came directly from Dick Notmeyer and the Pacifica Bar Bell Club.

But there was more to Dick than just reps and sets. He was a master storyteller. I was going through a rough time at home and his stories always showed me the path, the route, to success. Showing up every day, getting the work done and avoiding stupidity would lead ultimately to success in all areas of life.

I have discovered no better truism in my life.

Writing the introduction to Ron’s book made we want to tell more stories about other mentors who shaped my career. I began to dig into my past and I realized how many people have coached me. Literally, a coach is something that carries one from here to there. I have been carried many times in my life through bad times and disasters. I have arrived successfully many times and I needed to make sure I thank those who got me there.

I hope my attempts at coaching and teaching reflect the gifts given to me. In 40 Years with a Whistle, I share them with you.

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