Creating A System That Works For You – Eagan Trained

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Chad Gage – Eagan Trained 

After receiving his education degree from Augustana College in South Dakota, Chad moved to the Twin Cities in Minnesota, where he has been at Eagan ever since. Chad is an 8th grade Global Studies teacher at Dakota Hills Middle School and has a variety of coaching experiences from his last 24 years. Check out his story on creating a system! [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Creating A System 

In my early years at Eagan High School, I was the head wrestling coach for 16 years, along with coaching middle school and high school football. During those 16 years as a head wrestling coach, I created a summer program called Red Shirt Training.  Red Shirt Training paired wrestling, with mental and physical training. This program eventually grew from about 30 kids a summer to roughly 74 kids a summer. The kids signing up were looking for something that was going to challenge them physically and mentally but also give them a foundation on how to train.   That experience brings us to today, where I am now in my second year as head of the strength training program for Eagan High School. With that responsibility, I am still involved with football, baseball, and wrestling.  When creating a new system, it was vital for me to keep the momentum of Red Shirt Training and implement it into the whole school. I went back and evaluated what made Red Shirt Training successful and then developed new core values, a new logo, and laid out the system for what we now call Eagan Trained.  This new system centers around full inclusion, relationships/celebrating, and having a mental and physical aspect of training.

Full Inclusion

One of my first goals was to create a program that was year-round for everyone. The plan was intended to serve students in grades 6-12, both in and out of season. Making sure everyone felt that they were on the same level and had a place to train “in school with their friends and teammates” was very important. As kids say, “We need to keep the SQUAD together.”   We are very fortunate at Eagan that our middle school is connected to the high school. Getting kids involved with training at a younger age can help create great habits early and make your programs stronger. Our after school middle school program now has over 90 kids each season.  I also didn’t want the weight room to become a place that felt like it was just for one sport. Sometimes weight rooms become structured this way, and it feels like everyone else might be unwelcome.  This can start to drive other teams far away from the weight room itself. The weight room needed to be a place where all coaches, athletes, and students felt welcomed and were on the same playing field. One key part of a year-round program is getting all our coaches to be a part of it. I think the most significant transition has been establishing a schedule for EVERYONE and making sure different groups have their needs met. At Eagan, this was something new for most coaches.  We have managed to create a schedule that has open lifting, in-season, off-season, and middle school times. And of course, this has been no easy task. Change is always hard when it comes to a year-round program, but what really dictates a lot of the success is if you get the right people involved that have the same vision.  [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]


When the right coaches/teachers are involved, kids are going to show up and start to understand the importance of the weight room. What I mean by this, is you want your school’s relationship builders at the core.  These are the coaches and teachers in your building that have that natural gift of connecting with kids. You will notice them in your building, as those are the teachers and coaches that kids gravitate towards. There is a sense of TRUST that has been built between them. Our core group of coaches/teachers that are involved with Eagan Trained have this gift. When kids trust you, they are more willing to sign up and be involved in the weight room. I have found that this alone takes care of attendance issues. It also raises the standard for everyone involved. ‘I don’t want to let them down, and they don’t want to let me down!’ That is key!   When you have this, it also makes celebrations in the weight room even more special. We recognize a student during our Daily Breakdown every day with a sticker.  The stickers are given out based on effort and are often related to our core values; Serve Something Bigger, Students United and Connected, PMA=Positive Mental Attitude.   We feel that these mini celebrations of daily breakdowns, record boards, Ring the Bell, Speed Club Members have created an identity for us that kids want to be part of. They might seem like little things, but in totality, we have noticed that kids set higher goals for themselves now.  Kids also start having a different outlook on things about themselves both mentally and physically after they know someone is noticing a change. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]

Mentally and Physically

You will notice that I put these two things at the end as I don’t think I would have a program with over 500 athletes involved if the first two things weren’t taking place. You will also notice that I don’t have any acronyms behind my name like CSCS. I know this is a highly debated topic lately within the strength and conditioning world.   What I know is driven by my experience as an athlete and coach. And although I don’t have the letters at the end of my name, it has never stopped me from studying and reaching out to people to improve and get better. I think most coaches, regardless of certifications or degrees, want to get better at what they do in any way possible.   So what do I do to help get all my athletes both mentally and physically stronger? Just like surrounding yourself with relationship builders, it’s also important to surround yourself with experts. For help with programming, I turn to PLT4M.  Why PLT4M? They have become my acronym and certified trainer. They have created an app that emulates what my Red Shirt Training was all about. Through the program, we emphasize mobile, mentally strong (finishers), and physically strong (power/strength) students.   When it comes to programming, it has eliminated a lot of thinking a kid and coach has to do with numbers via the programs. It has given the coaches in the room more time to study and focus on technique.  PLT4M has brought the certified trainer into the school and has also helped our school restore the idea of what it means to lift with your teammates instead of going off to private trainers and programs. When your athletes start putting the WE over the individual needs, the trust between teammates becomes stronger. When TRUST is strong, great things happen. For speed, we follow Tony Holler’s system, Feed The Cats. What I like about his system is that it is based on simplicity. We are working with 30 minutes for our speed session, and this has created structure for us. We have two Speed Days and two X Factor days. Kids love to race and compete, not just with themselves, but against their teammates.  On speed days, we Record-Rank-Publish speed results and post them in the room on a spreadsheet. We celebrate when kids become members of the SPEED CLUBS during our Daily Breakdowns. During X-Factor days, we have three stations to work on anything from plyos, linear, and lateral movements.  Platform gives you some great ideas for X Factor days. I have developed most of my X-Factor days based off of the app. What I like about PLT4M and Feed the Cats is that it gives us that competition that we need in our program. We make the finishers (often metabolic conditioning) into competitions, and we race. Kids know where they stand and soon realize what it takes to climb up the charts.  Some would say don’t chase numbers, but from what I have seen, kids like numbers and are always chasing a number. In reality, we are always chasing numbers with everything we do in life. If you’re second, I would think you’re chasing first. Hopefully, the system that we have created will help kids reach the goals that they have set for themselves as a person or as an athlete.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_section][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Want to see how coaches and teachers are using PLT4M to enhance their program?
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Eagan Trained

Creating a system that works for you takes time. Granted, we are only in our second year of Eagan Trained, but I think we have laid down a strong foundation that we can make better. For all systems, you have to find out what works and what doesn’t work for you and the kids.  You are always working to make it better through a lot of trial and error. When developing a system, I have found that when you surround yourself with relationship builders and keep it simple, good things will happen. In turn, people will get excited about it.   We have had excellent support from our administration, athletic boosters, coaches, and programs to make this vision a reality. Without them, a lot of what Eagan Trained has become would not have been possible. Good luck in creating the system that works for you! [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text] [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text] [/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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