By Adam Reed, Managing Editor
In the summer of 2000, Dr. Chuck Stiggins organized a group of full-time strength and conditioning coaches to create a new organization dedicated to the specific needs and promotion of the collegiate strength and conditioning coach. From those founding meetings until the present day, Chuck and his wife Becky have been synonymous with the CSCCa and the “gold standard.”
This year, the CSCCa faces a bittersweet moment in its history, as Chuck and Becky have decided to retire.
It’s nearly impossible to describe the impact Chuck and Becky have had in over two decades serving the organization and the profession of strength and conditioning coaching. They have labored tirelessly, cared deeply and loved unconditionally. In turn, the CSCCa membership embraced them as family.
In a world full of people who only look out for themselves, Chuck and Becky are beloved and admired for their selfless sacrifice. They didn’t establish this organization to shine the spotlight on themselves, and anyone who knows the history of the CSCCa’s humble beginnings knows they didn’t set out on this path to become wealthy.
Chuck epitomizes the visionary. His courage and leadership inspired an entire generation of the finest strength and conditioning coaches in the world. Standing alongside him, providing the sort of unwavering support many these days might assume is a relic of the past, Becky has been a pillar of strength and encouragement from In the start of this journey through the finish.
“They say behind every halfway decent man there’s a great woman, and when I married Becky, I hit a grand slam,” Chuck says. “Becky has played a very significant role in this organization, and she’s been with me through thick and thin.”
The reason Chuck felt it was time to start this association — and the reason he and his wife have dedicated their lives to it — comes down to their love of the profession. Add to this a truly genuine desire to serve others, and you find a couple tailor-made to do something as incredible as the creation and growth of this unparalleled organization.
“This organization came about to promote strength and conditioning coaches and show sport coaches and athletic administrators and conference commissioners and the NCAA the value of the strength and conditioning coach,” Chuck says. “I wanted people to understand that if you don’t have a great strength and conditioning coach, your athletic department is suffering.”
After more than 20 years, no doubt remains as to whether this mission succeeded. The CSCCa drove up the value of strength and conditioning coaches all over the country. The demand for strength and conditioning professionals has never been higher, nor has their position in the org charts of athletics departments.
“Having good, educated, skilled strength and conditioning coaches has made the athletic departments around this country better,” Chuck says. “The strength and conditioning coach has brought so much credibility and validity to athletic departments.”
In no small part, the validity intertwines inseparably with the unparalleled standards of the SCCC certification. While it was popular and more lucrative to lower certification standards at the time, the CSCCa was hard at work raising the standard higher than ever before.
“The three-prong certification is huge,” Becky says. “That’s one of the things we are most proud of. To have this internship where you actually have to go get the experience in the field, in addition to taking a scientific written exam, as well as the practical exam — that was revolutionary. It just didn’t exist.
“Before that, anyone could just read a textbook and go in and take a written exam and get a certification.”
“We are the No. 1 certification in the industry, and we have to make sure we always maintain that position,” Chuck adds. “That’s absolutely critical.”
Of all the Stiggins’ accomplishments, the place strength and conditioning coaches now hold in athletics ranks high, but the way in which coaches have come together internally as a profession may be even higher.
The Legacy Of Family
The unification of the profession is no accident. It all started with the initial board Chuck brought together so many years ago, with a stated goal of establishing an organization of strength and conditioning coaches, for strength and conditioning coaches.
“From our original board to our current board, they are all great men and women,” Chuck says. “They are all different and unique in a very special way, but they are all men and women of integrity. They are true professionals, and they have great character.”
“Those original coaches bought into the vision and took a chance,” Becky adds. “Nobody knew if this organization was going to make it.”
One of those original board members, CSCCa Chief Development Officer Allan Johnson, remembers the uncertainty involved in trying to get the organization off the ground.
“They put their life in this organization,” Johnson says of the Stiggins. “I remember when Chuck contacted me, he was at BYU, he’s talked to me about starting the CSCCa. You know how it is, you see an idea, you see a product and you’re thinking about it, that looks nice, but I don’t know. I have to wait until someone else tries it out and they drive that car. And now I’m stepping out into this new horizon, asking myself, ‘Is this going to work?’ There were no guarantees.
“Those of us who became founding members and were fortunate to be part of the initial board, we were labeled as renegades. Like, ‘What are you guys doing? Why do you think this organization is better?’ Because this organization services the membership. It’s for strength and conditioning coaches. Nothing against any other organization, but there’s nothing like the unity and bond of an organization that is specifically for collegiate strength and conditioning coaches.”
It takes steady, unwavering leadership to guide a fledgling organization during such uncertain times. While Chuck, in unsurprisingly humble fashion, looks to give the credit to the great men and women he has been surrounded by over the years, they are busy making sure not to undersell the importance of the couple whose vision started it all.
“Chuck and Becky did a tremendous job,” Johnson says. “There’s not enough praise that you can give them. I’m not sitting here today without those two people.”
Ultimately, the core of the association is the membership itself, spanning from coaches who are just getting started in the profession, to coaches like Johnson and others who have been around for decades. The CSCCa provides the common thread tying all of them together. They are family by virtue of the shared struggle that has brought them together.
All of the recognition within athletics that has been achieved, all of the ways in which the profession has been elevated, all the improvements in training, education, certification and accreditation — all of it pales in comparison to the edifying, nurturing environment the CSCCa provides to its membership.
“They’ve created a home for the strength and conditioning coach,” CSCCa Chief Science Officer Sandy Abney says. “We have a solid foundation. We have a place where we know we can gather, we can network, we can build relationships with colleagues that are going through the same challenges we are. That brotherhood and sisterhood they have created is going to be long lasting, and it doesn’t exist anywhere else.
“They gave us a home, and now it’s our chance and our opportunity to take care of the home and grow the home and make it bigger, better and stronger.”
Seizing The Torch
As the Stiggins close the book on this aspect of their journey together, the story of the CSCCa goes on. What they leave behind is so much richer than they found it, and an opportunity for the new leadership of the organization to sow new seeds and reap even greater rewards for the future of the profession.
Scott Bennett, who took over as CSCCa Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in March of 2021, now becomes the man whose leadership will shape the vision for the organization’s future. Accepting the reins from such an admired leader like Chuck, he is acutely aware of the herculean task that lies before him, his team and the membership.
“I’ve been here from the start and many of us have heard Chuck tell the story of the first conference when our exhibitor hall was just down the hallway, right in the middle of the hotel,” Bennett says. “Seeing it grow from there, it’s very easy for us to take for granted how awesome our national conference is every year, how awesome the association is every year and everything it brings to the table for us.
“I can’t say enough about the job that Chuck and Becky have done over the years and let’s be frank and honest about it, you don’t replace Chuck and Becky Stiggins, you just don’t. Our goal is to accept the torch from them, to build a bridge from the past or the legacy that they have built, to embrace the present with our members and to start looking toward the future.”
Bennett brings his own unique strengths and perspective as CEO, but he won’t be forgetting the blueprint Chuck left behind anytime soon. In coaching, it’s a fool’s errand to try and adopt the personality of someone else, but great coaches always pattern themselves after great examples. Bennett sees these parallels in his new role.
“Chuck always had the ability to harvest that pride and passion, but one thing Chuck brought to the table and hopefully I can bring to the table, as well as the rest of our executive team, is we’re genuinely concerned and interested in all of our coaches,” Bennett says. “We have a genuine interest in, ‘How are you doing? How are things at your school? How are things with your student-athletes? How can we make your job better so you can help your student-athletes and make your position better at your own institution?’”
Bennett’s attitude reflects why he was chosen to take the leading role in the house the Stiggins built. There’s no doubt that their aligned vision for listening, caring and helping others will serve the membership well as they begin a new chapter in CSCCa history.
As the new Executive Leadership Team begins the humbling work of leading the CSCCa into the future, the entire organization must pause and recall the sacrifices made by this beloved couple. And even more than what they’ve done, it’s who they are that lights the way for others to follow. While accomplishments come and go; values are forever. Through their desire to be a blessing to others, they too have been richly blessed.
“Becky and I, we love all the coaches, they’re like part of our family,” Chuck says. “We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve them. The more that we help and serve others, we truly become the beneficiary.”
Have a message for Chuck and Becky? Drop a comment below!
Editor’s note: The entire staff at Tree Cycle Media, publishers of the CSCCa National Conference Guide & Member Directory and the CSCCa Monthly Email Newsletter, would like to send our best wishes to Chuck and Becky in retirement. It has been an honor and privilege to work with them over the years, and they will most certainly be sorely missed.