Danni shares her experience of believing in herself as part of our #SheBelievedSheCould series.
In my last semester of my undergraduate degree at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU), I decided to change my path.
I wanted to work with individuals to get them to perform the best they could possibly. I wanted to be a strength and conditioning coach.
But how could I get there? I mean I had just finished my degree and an internship so to switch I needed more experience and as much as I could get.
At the time, I was a group fitness instructor at a local gym and had knowledge on how to help people meet their goals in fitness. I had the personality of a group fitness instructor [An individual who could relate to everyone, cared about their members who took their classes and tried to challenge people individually]. So I thought to myself, working with college athletes, it couldn’t be that hard could it?
It was Hard
I was in the first summer of working on my Master’s degree that I decided to get an internship in college strength and conditioning. I was chosen to work under an experienced head coach and was so freaking excited.
I walked into that first day and thought to myself, “This is so freaking awesome and should be a piece of cake.” I have been working with fitness for about four years by now and thought I knew a bunch of ‘things’.
How W.R.O.N.G. was I.
That first internship was the biggest challenge I had yet in this journey. I remember walking away on the Friday of my first week thinking, “Can I actually do this?”
In that first week I learned the following about myself:
- I do not know what I am doing
- I am way to freaking nice
- I am way to quiet
- I am way to freaking nice
Over the next few weeks, I was challenged more than I thought possible. At the semester break, I received my first evaluation from my boss.
I thought before he handed it to me. “Okay, I did pretty good and I should get an evaluation.”
That was the worst evaluation I have ever received in my entire life. I was challenged by the athletes to make sure I am on top of my game and knew what was going on (trust me when I say, you cannot mess up in this world). I was challenged to speak up and take demand of a room. I was challenged to be differendddt than I was.
Be demanding. Have a presence. Keep a standard. Hold the athletes to a standard. Protect the standard.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I stepped up my game. I did all that I thought was asked of me. I was demanding. I didn’t take crap from anyone. I didn’t show any emotion and presented the information to the athletes to what was expected of them. At the end of the semester, I was asked by my boss if this was something that I can see myself doing in the future…my response…YES.
His response to that “well if you want to do it, you are going to have to work your ass off, make sacrifices, and keep working hard.”
That next summer, I returned for my second internship. In the career field of strength and conditioning to work your way you need to complete 2 or 3 unpaid internships, then a possible paid internship, if you are lucky then you get a graduate assistantship, and if you are really lucky and things workout and you survive, a full time assistant position.
I was on the second unpaid internship position. But this isn’t guaranteed. You don’t typically get a second chance unless you did good in your first one. Apparently I did good in my first round because I got a second chance. [Happy dance!]
The second summer, if I did fantastic, I would have the chance of trying to get a paid internship or just trying to make my way up. More responsibilities were earned. When I say this, I mean literally. If I did good, the next week, I had the opportunity to do more, such as leading a warm-up in a lift, or demonstrating an exercise, or even leading a rack. If I didn’t do my job, then I got things taken away and someone else earned the responsibility.
The second summer was tougher than the first. I already knew what was expected, but I had to be better. I had to do better. I had to show that I can take on more responsibilities and that I can be 3 steps ahead of everyone.
Towards the second half of the summer, I had the opportunity to apply for a Graduate Assistantship with the place I was currently doing my internship at. I had an advantage over all of the other competition because I was doing my interview over the past few weeks. Everything that I was doing, my boss was able to watch and decided if I was good enough to work with him.
I was told at the end of my interview process that I didn’t get the job, however, I was asked back to work with a few of the sports teams in the Fall semester. I was okay with this because I was still able to improve my skills, but I can say boy was I upset. My dream was put on hold, but I had to do better. If I wanted this, I had to work at it.
The Friday before the semester started, my boss called me into his office and told me one of the individuals turned the job down and if I wanted it, I had to opportunity to accept it. Without a doubt, I said yes. But I was warned that this would be hard. That I was going to be challenged both physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Challenge freaking accepted.
That first semester, was by far the hardest, most difficult but the best learning experience ever. In the first few months, I had teams taken away from me and given other teams. I had been put on a ‘babysitting duty’ I call it, such as I wasn’t able to do anything without my boss approval.
I thought to myself multiple times during this semester that I wasn’t good enough. That I wasn’t going to make it. That I am not strong mentally to do this and even had my first semester evaluation that it all told me the same thing that I already knew.
You see, I am the type of person that if you tell me I suck at something, I am going to work my hinny off to make it one of my best skills.
You tell me I can’t write good, I will write until my fingers bleed.
You tell me I can’t coach athletes correctly, I am going to coach my hinny off to get the athletes succeed.
You tell me I can’t do something, I am going to show you I can do it better than expected.
That was the goal of my second semester. Work harder to show everyone I can do it.
Don’t talk about it, be about it.
Research until I can’t research no more. Coach until I lose my voice, literally (that did happen quite a bit). Hold the standard and be a jerk about it. But most of all, do what others thought I wasn’t able to do. B
y the time the second semester was over, I did more than thought possibly. I received my second evaluation and it was a complete difference from before.
I produced three Division 2 All American Track and Field athletes.
I had held ever team to the same standard. I had every individual performing their best possible in almost all sports.
But the biggest thing that I did, was I believed in myself.
When others doubted me, knocked me down, and even myself knocking me down, I accepted the challenge. You tell me I sucked at something, I will prove to you that I don’t.
This finally came true in the past six weeks. In the past six weeks, I accepted a full-time position as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.
Five years ago, I believed that I could be a college strength and conditioning coach and as of today, I was able to fulfil that dream.
It took me believing in myself to make it happen, but I believed I could and so I did.
My name is Danni Radosa and I am a twenty-seven year old from Merrill, Michigan. I am currently working at the University of Mary as a full time Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach in Bismarck, North Dakota. In July, I moved out here with my German Shepherd, Nala and we have been exploring the city by going for a run and playing fetch everyday.