He sent out 60 resumes. He was rejected or received no response from 59 of them.
This describes the experience of scores of strength and conditioning coaches trying to break into the profession some 30 years ago. It wasn’t very common to have a lot of options back then, and for new CSCCa Chief Development Officer Allan Johnson, even these numbers paint a bit too rosy a picture of what his entrance into the profession actually looked like.
When Johnson did get a foot in the door at West Virginia University (WVU) in the early ‘80s, his big opportunity changed from a paid GA position to an unpaid volunteer position just days before he and his new wife were set to make the move. The one responsive school no longer had the position he was offered by the time he actually resigned his job at the high school ranks.
Of course, Johnson persevered, becoming the head strength and conditioning coach at WVU in 1983, and going on to coach for several highly regarded organizations, including the Baltimore Orioles, Ohio State and Northwestern, before landing at East Tennessee State University in 2014. Seven years later, he’s about to embrace his most challenging role to date.
“My role as chief development officer is continuing to cultivate, build and strengthen relationships within the association,” Johnson says. “With the vendors and sponsors, where we’re at now, I mean, we’ve done a tremendous job, but my role is continuing to grow and continuing to develop these relationships.”
The young coach, who just wanted to find a home within the profession and provide for his burgeoning family went on to become an original CSCCa Board Member, an MSCC and a member of the USA Strength and Conditioning Coaches Hall of Fame. With all that experience and having seen more good times than bad, he still remembers the importance of taking care of the business side of the profession. He’ll bring that perspective with him to the CSCCa, in a role that previously didn’t exist.
“You talk about an enormous challenge ahead of us,” Johnson says. “This is going to be a large mountain to try to continue to climb. But as chief development officer, my job is developing and creating relationships, talking to new vendors, talking to existing vendors, talking to vendors who are no longer part of us and asking, ‘Hey, why aren’t you?’ We’re trying to create sponsorships and create a unity within the vendors that want to get their product to our association and to our members.
“Without the vendors, I mean, they’re part of the lifeblood for us. You think about sponsors that have been there from day one and being loyal and believing in what we’re doing. And we want them to continue to do so, but we want to build these relationships to get them to continue to believe and recognize that this association is going forward, and we want to continue to be the benchmark for strength and conditioning in the world.”
The CSCCa has always placed tremendous value on their sponsors and the exhibitors who continue to show up year after year, but Johnson’s new role doesn’t simply boil down to supporting the association financially. The coaching profession and industry suppliers have an important give-and-take. If the vendors are the lifeblood of the CSCCa, the National Conference Exhibit Hall serves as the heart, bringing in coaches and pumping out new ideas and information that make everyone better.
“When you go into the exhibit area, it’s a giant laboratory. You go in there and you see this new piece of technology and you see that new training tool,” Johnson says. “Then you’re seeing the early bird workouts, you see different strength and conditioning coaches, they’re using different equipment, they’re doing different types of modalities of training. Wow. And that’s what going to the conference is all about. It’s about networking. It’s about developing relationships.
“We’re all in this together. We’re a family, we’re unified, and we’re headed in the right direction.”