As many of you know, I am the Head Coach and Founder of East Coast Gold Weightlifting Team but I am also the President and Founder of Totten Training Systems, LLC. Because of the dual hats that I wear, there is often confusion as to what both of these organizations really are. Here’s a bit of clarification.
In the previous article, I discussed what the East Coast Gold Weightlifting Team is all about, how it started and how it continues to evolve. ECG is a non-profit, 501c3 organization and continues to prosper in that capacity. Phil Sabatini and his crew in Virginia Beach have taken over the primary responsibilities of the team and are continuing the traditions and culture developed over the years. As I mentioned, Phil is the President and Associate Head Coach and I continue to serve as CEO and Head Coach.
Totten Training Systems, LLC is my training business that was started in 2012. After retiring from teaching and coaching at the high school level after 32 years (in 2006), I spent a 6 year stint working as President of WerkSan Barbells. During a majority of my teaching career as well as throughout my tenure with WerkSan, I was doing many USAW courses along with various lectures and seminars around the country on weightlifting and incorporating the Olympic lifts into strength and conditioning programs.
During my own lifting career, I pretty much trained alone and taught myself. I managed to juggle teaching and coaching while training myself at the national and international level. That juggling act proved useful as the experience coaching so many different sports really paid off in the long run. Wrestling was my first sport, but I got valuable coaching experience working with swimming, diving, track and field, tennis, gymnastics and, eventually, volleyball. Although I didn’t have practical experience playing volleyball, we managed to win States!
I started coaching weightlifting specifically right after I hung up my lifting shoes, believe it or not, 36 years ago! Since I had a head start on coaching other sports, it was an easy transition to use those same coaching strategies to weightlifting. Also, throughout a large majority of my own lifting career, I did my own program design, and studied and applied the technique and training methodologies of the Russian literature and any other resources out there at the time. Not to mention, my BS and MS degrees in Physical Education were critical to my pedagogy background.
All of that background being said, Totten Training Systems was created! The main goal was to create a platform of information on training and coaching strategies so that others could find a solid source of information based on science and practical experience. I was fortunate over the years to have many outstanding mentors that have helped me along the way and I wanted to create a resource to help others continue to learn and be mentored as I had. With so much information out there via the internet (some good, some not so good), there appeared to be a value in getting this positive platform up and running.
Because Olympic lifting was my main focus as an athlete and coach, TTS started with courses developed to train the Olympic lifts for weightlifters as well as those in the strength and conditioning world who utilize these lifts for sports performance. There is a direct correlation between success in the weight room via the Olympic lifts and success on the playing field. I have taught the USAW courses for many years and continue to do so, but I wanted to create my own “certifications” using the Olympic lifts specifically for “strength coaches” who didn’t necessarily want to become “weightlifting coaches”. Thus, the creation of the BOLC (Basic Olympic Lifting Certification) and the AOLC (Advanced Olympic Lifting Certification). This was followed up by the creation of the CELC (Coaches Education and Lifting Certification). All three of these courses were designed for different levels of strength coaches and each was good for CEUs from various organizations, such as the NSCA, CSCCa, NASM, ISSA and ACE.
The business continued to grow with the addition of different seminars and clinics at various CrossFit boxes, weightlifting gyms and sports performance centers. Additionally, speaking engagements were arranged for various conferences around the country as we became a presence as exhibitors at these same locations. Consulting and personal training became another avenue of business. I am a strong believer in individualizing training based specifically on the needs of that individual so the personal training is only a small part of the business but a very effective mode of training. There are a lot of “generic” training programs out there, but not the most effective way of coaching. Individualization is the way to go!
One of the things that makes Totten Training Systems a bit different from most other systems that are out there is that we take a more holistic approach. I always say, “the one hour you spend on the platform lifting, isn’t as important as the other 23 hours off the platform”. In other words, there is more to success than just the lifting part. In our system, we bring out the importance of the science and the pedagogy, nutrition, psychology and recovery. We are teaming with other experts in the field to lend their expertise to our system.
Speaking of “teaming” up with experts, we have added staff to continue this growth process for the company. Cait Finn is our marketing/social media guru and has been an outstanding addition to our company pushing for more growth and professionalism. Getting my/our name out there is not one of my strong suits, so Cait has taken it by the horns and pushed to let everyone know who we are and what we represent. In addition, we have added Chris Taber, Carissa Gump and Cam Davidson who are additional instructors with vast experience in research, coaching and competition at the national and international level. I have always said that one of the primary reasons for any success that I have enjoyed over my career has to do with the type of people I hang out with. The TTS staff certainly fits that bill to a tee.
But that also has to do with the organizations we hang out with. Amplify Sports and Wellness is one such organization. This is a company designed to create an online educational platform that blends perfectly with my own philosophy and the quality of education that needs to be put forth. Totten Training Systems and Amplify Sports and Wellness have teamed up to create some awesome training content for all levels of programs who need. As in the TTS certifications, Amplify has their content available for CEUs as well!
We continue to work with other companies that exude the same quality we are looking for - doing the right things for the right reasons. Education of the highest level is the ultimate goal. SportsEdTV is one such organization that continues to grow and contribute to our goal. RadRoller is another company that is all about modes of recovery but also has the education platform that fits right into our philosophy. We are in the process of hooking up with several sport psychology and sport nutrition companies as we continue to move forward.
Since the eight short years from its creation, Totten Training Systems has grown and continues to grow. We have a passion for getting the most solid, practical information out there on training, strategy and education. We continue to pursue excellence in all that we do and strive to instill this same passion to others.
So, as you can see, East Coast Gold WL Team is my competition lane while Totten Training Systems is my education lane. Both entities keep me pretty busy and both are my two different passions!!