Owner of Tennessee Speed and Strength
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College Football/College & Olympic Strength Coach Platteview High School West Chester, PA University of Nebraska '89-'91 (strength coach) Vanderbilt University '91-'95 (strength coach) Lee University (strength coach) McCallie High-School (strength coach) Women's Team USA in Crew '96 Olympics (strength coach)

My Story

While I have many instances that I could share having been both a collegiate football player, a coach, and a business owner, one event in particular stands out in my mind. I was coaching a young team of of aspiring Olympic weightlifters in Tennessee and had 3 of them (James Sansom, and brothers Robert and Chuck) – qualify for Youth Nationals held in Los Angles. All three athletes were performing at a very high level so it was an important trip for us. Unfortunately, Los Angeles was both expensive and a very long way from Tennessee and to make matters worse, my three athletes were all from very poor households so it was up to me to raise the money needed for airfare, hotel rooms, car rental, etc. Raising the money was a nightmare but I was persistent and eventually managed to secure the funds needed for all of us to go. During the 3 day competition, things couldn’t have gone better All three athletes won their respective weight classes, Robert set an American Record as a 15 year old in the Clean & Jerk (352 pounds), James was crowned Best Lifter of the meet, and all 3 were selected to represent the USA in the upcoming Youth Pan Am competition later that year. Following the meet, we had a free day before we flew home so we drove the Pacific Coast Highway for quite awhile and then spent the rest of the day on a beautiful beach dotted with multi-million dollar homes. Honestly, I was glad to be back on the plane the next day. The months leading up to the meet had kept me busy with raising the money needed for the trip, the stress of the competition itself, taking care of three teenage boys… it took about all I had. The plane ride home offered me a little down time so I began preparing the upcoming training program that would take the kids to the Pan Am competition. Deep in thought, I was interrupted by Robert who blurted out that he felt sorry for his friends back in Tennessee. “Why?” I asked. “Because they didn’t get to experience the things I did this weekend” he replied. Then he rattled off all the things that stuck out in his mind – the ocean, the beach, the expensive houses on the beach, our hotel, the city… it had really made an impact on him, the world opened up for him that weekend and it wasn’t until later that I leaned how much that trip had broadened his horizons. I came to learn that Robert and Chuck were living in an apartment with their mom and 3 other siblings but that all 5 children had different fathers including Robert and Chuck who I learned were brothers though different last names. Their mom was both physically and mentally abusive and was in and out of jail for drugs and prostitution. She told the kids that there wasn’t any point in trying to get ahead in life and not to worry about school – living in government housing was awesome. The small high school that they attended had more than a 50% dropout rate and most of their friends had either quit school or were considering it. Not knowing anything different, Robert and Chuck had resigned to their fate. But, following the trip to California, they saw that there was more in the world than poverty and abuse and they decided to go after it. Both Robert and Chuck would not only graduate from high school, but graduate with honors. They both earned full academic scholarship to the University of Tennessee where Robert went on to graduate with a business degree and Chuck graduated with a Pre-Med degree with Magna Cum Laude honors. Both have told me numerous times that they owe their success to that trip we took to Los Angeles. So, to me, “Check You Game” means that as a coach (and a parent), I need to be conscious of the life changing experiences that sports have to offer and to be sure that above all else, I’m providing those experiences. I was completely wrapped up in getting us to California, doing well at the competition and getting us home and ready for the next competition that I had failed to understand what an impact I was really making in their lives. The experiences that I had given these 3 kids was completely a byproduct of the competition and that byproduct was not only unplanned, it was the most important thing of the entire weekend. I realized that it didn’t matter how they placed or what they had achieved, their lives wouldn’t have been changed by a victory or a defeat. What mattered was the experience.

My Advice

My last piece of advice is for the parents out there. Remember that above all else, you need to ensure that your young athlete is having fun at what they do. Let them pick the sport and do all you can to foster their passion. By doing so, you'll create special memories that you'll share for the rest of your lives.


Steve, you are a great guy! That’s the first thing I want to say about you. From the beginning when we met while at Vanderbilt when you were the Assistant Strength Coach, you’ve helped me and the rest of the players with your job by always doing anything you could to help us be the best players. I also had the privilege of working with you at a private High-School where you continued to be that same person who gives of himself to anyone who needs help. I wanted you to know that I've appreciated all that you've done for me and what I've seen you do for others. Helping these young boys to get a plane ticket sounds outstanding, but it really is just a norm for who you are and what you do. It seems as though you apply this Check Your Game philosophy in many areas of your life! You take notice of what's around you and you do something about it and especially with kids who want your help in the weight room! Thanks again for sharing of your time and for being willing to help others if they have questions regarding strength and conditioning. -Gary Rogers



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Blake Norberg says:

Thanks for sharing Gary Rogers I know Coach Stephen Bryan Fauer had an unbelievable impact on my life. I can’t think of a better teacher and Coach. After going 0-6 at my first competition, he encouraged me to keep going and I got another chance in Savannah where I rebounded by going 6 for 6, took home 1st, and qualified for Junior Nationals in Flagstaff, AZ. By far, this was the best experience of my high school career. It really opened my eyes on what you can do if you fail at first and continue to persist and work hard. That’s how success happens and it requires hard work. I take those lessons from me and apply them every day. Blake Norberg

Tony Decker says:

Great advice with proven experiences! Stories like this are truly inspiring!