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Behind the Champion with Erica

See the interview here.


 

Entries by Chris Sinagoga (3647)

Beast Mode: Izzy vs. Danielle

Two of the Champions Club's rising Juniors squared off earlier tonight in the classic CrossFit Benchmark workout, "Eva" - 800m run, 30 kettlebell swings, 30 pull-ups... 5 rounds! As far as benchmark workouts go, this is probably the worse long-duration one in the CrossFit books. I'd take Murph any day.

Anyway, Danielle Worden and Izzy Barone both joined the Champions Club this fall and have shown great attendance since. They were neck-and-neck going into the final round, so I caught it on video. See the finish below:

Campus Improv Eats Are Proof That Binno is Doomed to Serve In Hell

Editor's note: this was originally posted on January 15 at 4:28 pm. I am bumping it so you can all make fun of Binno in public without the comments being disabled.

I was raised a Catholic by good parents. Chris Binno was too. I went to St. Dennis, he went to G.A., and we both went to Foley at the same time, although I had no clue he existed until after I graduated. So we both went through the sacraments in grade school, and sat through Mr. Maiuri's awesome guitar sessions in religion class, and Mrs. Mulawka's Morality homework.

The first of the 7 deadly sins is gluttony, which The Bible defines as "the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags" (Proverbs 23:21). I, of course, have no freaking idea what this means. But the gist of what most churchfolk understand about gluttony is basically don't eat like a pig. If pigs ate like Chris Binno did for breakfast on Thursday morning, they would be manatees.

Let's start it off like this: when I get an email from the Great Bam Binno with the first sentence saying,

"So I normally eat about 12 eggs over medium for breakfast along with a bunch of fruit" 

I immediately think of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. Then the more I thought about it, the more I see the similarities; constant flexing, broad chin structure, chasing women around, and constantly allowing himself to be trolled by a big hairy creature (Jacob, in Binno's case). Then I think that Binno might have the most tags on the website as it is, so what's the point of making a Binno is Gaston tag? Finally, that number 12 jumps out to me. I eat 3 eggs every morning for breakfast and I am still bombarded with the "eggs are bad for you" comments from people who haven't found out yet that cholesterol pretty much has been proven to have nothing to do with cancer. Still, common sense would tell me that 84 eggs in a week can't be great for you.

Binno must have thought this too, in fact, because as his email went on, he decided he was only in the mood for 8 eggs instead. So he placed his order:

You may notice that, in true Katie Bromm style, Binno opts to go by Christopher when he's around people he sees as inferiors. This turned out to backfire on him, as the waitress and cook both mistook his order for 18 eggs. And out came this:

It should be noted that he finished the entire meal, along with three bowls of grapes. Welp, here's the breakdown.

  • Protein: Every atom in the atmosphere contained on his plate
  • Carbohydrate: roughly 8 blocks? Depends on the bowl
  • Fat: Is saturated fat good for you now? I think it might be? Depends on the day? But no nuts and seeds here.

Win or loss. Loss. This is just... Jesus 18 eggs! And you weren't done yet? You could feed the entire Banet family for a week on this meal, alone. For shame, doc!

Next time. Go to the priest and he'll tell you to say 6 Hail Mary's to repent. Or talk to the football coach from the previous Campus Improv Eats and he'll probably give you a job as the team's nutritionist.

Pic of the Week: Whiteboard Mixup

On Tuesday we all got to experience some heavy deadlifts and box jumps and were sore in places we weren't expecting. I jumped in the morning session, and while Mrs. Kroll and I were gasping on the floor after the workout, Katie Shakes was nice enough to write our times and weights down. Only I didn't notice until the 4:30 session...

...when Mama V was like "Dang Mrs. Kroll was doing a lot of weight this morning!"

New Graduate: Mrs. Demonaco

This morning Mrs. Demonaco finished her 7th and final Fundamentals session. Since it was cold and icy, we opted for Fran instead of Helen, and she used 12-lb. dumbbells and ring rows, and her time was 6:09.

Over the course of our sessions, Mrs. Demonaco showed really good coordination and body control, which were highlighted the most with Pose running and Unweighting. The upper-body strength and conditioning definitely what need the most work, but her coordination coupled with her surprisingly good mobility should prove to accelerate her improvement rate. With her daughter, Emma, in our regular group and son, Adam, in the Babies session, I'm sure we can expect them to keep their mother up on her attendance. The Champions Club has always been known as a family atmosphere, and with Mrs. Demonaco now in the mix we are just reinforcing that.

Welcome to the Champions Club Mrs. Demonaco!

Quote of the Week vol. 226

"See the bagel"

- Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is a dude who does a lot of work with businesses and other groups about building leadership and constantly strives to help people enjoy their occupation. In a recent speech, he told a story about a race him and his buddy were running. Free bagels were provided to anyone who finished, and so after they crossed the finish line, Simon and his friend went over to the area where the bagels were being provided, which, of course, there was a line for. Simon was perfectly fine with the wait, while his friend wanted to go elsewhere. His moral of the story was along the lines of: some people see what they want, and others see everything in the way of what they want.

College Athlete Admission Standards

Editor note: this was originally published on January 11 at 9 am... right around the time the comments went down. So I'm bumping this one and Binno's Eggstreme Eggstraveganze to the top for a bit because they are probably discussion worthy.

Every few years I have an eye-opening coaching experience. The first was The Meeting, the second was Carl Paoli's seminar, the third was the trip to San Francisco CrossFit, the fourth was coaching at the Day Care, the fiiiifff was the presenting with Coach T at the Michigan State Clinic, and the most recent one has come over the course of the past 6 months while doing private basketball coaching.

Since June I have been charging 60 bucks per hour to do basketball stuff with kids ranging from 7-16 years old. It is awesome; I am obsessed with game of basketball, I am obsessed with coaching, I get to recruit kids to do CrossFit here, and every cent that comes to me gets direct deposited into the Champions Club bank account. What is has also done for me is helped me realize that parents will pay SIXTY FREAKING DOLLARS FOR 50 MINUTES of sports training. And I am about to raise my prices in the spring. It is baffling. In fact, I've told more than 75% of the parents that I think they really should reconsider spending all that money on basketball training for numerous reasons, the least of which being that their son does not seem to like basketball (“but let me tell you about this thing called CrossFit” is what usually happens next). Surprisingly I get mostly positive reactions to this, and hopefully once basketball season is done I’ll be able to add a few New Kids to our regular ranks. The Babies session has already benefited from it.

What this and a few recent discussions with Champions Club parents tells me is that there is no ill-will behind anything – such as parents trying to live through their kids, or kids being arrogant. Instead, they simply don’t know what it takes to make the next level. They see their competition in the Greg Grant league or their middle school with a graduating class of 15 and they can’t help but think that private lessons are the way to a college scholarship.

Coincidentally this was a message to me as I was editing this editorial

All but 2 of the kids I have coached said they want to play at a D1 college, then play in the NBA. This is something I empathize with completely. As a 28-year old who currently has a public goal to be the best CrossFit affiliate in the world, you can probably imagine this was totally me at their age and older. I wanted to be an under-the-radar recruit who, after watching Rashad Phillips play (anyone know who he was?), chose U of D Mercy over Michigan, Purdue, and Illinois, then went on to an NBA career with 11 All-Star appearances and 7 championships. That is not a joke, and that lasted all the way until 8th grade when I saw Yancey Gates, and I found out that good 8th graders are 6’4, black, and dunking on fools. I was not any of these, so I started to work harder. Up until February 23, 2012 (The Meeting) I still had the idea that I could play professional basketball in some league, despite my college career being less than remarkable. And so when Andrew, who just got cut from a last-place 7th grade team, tells me he wants to play for OKC, I am not just being nice when I tell him that it’s possible. I’ve seen weirder things happen. I just think there needs to be some guidelines in place.

My two athletic claims to fame are: 1) being a benchwarmer on the best AAU program in Michigan, with Draymond Green as our team’s second-best player and  2) getting a preferred walk-on offer over the phone from Oakland University the summer going into my senior year. Despite the fact that I never made it to where I wanted to with basketball, I really, really think I had a mindset and work ethic that would reflect someone that played at that level, and coaches have confirmed this to me along my career. But I only refined this dedication because I was fortunate enough to be on the court with people who were already professionals or clearly future-pros. I saw where I was relative to them and I tried as hard as I could to make up the gap.

None of the kids I have coached through private basketball lessons have seen that, and their parents only see what their kids see. Most of the Champions Club athletes still in high school and middle school haven’t had that exposure either. So I figured having a formal checklist could help families see reality and decide how much they want to commit to their sport (shouts to Matt Fecht, Alyssa, and Sap for helping). The idea for this is simple: you must accumulate the allotted point requirement for your desired level (10 points for D1/D2, and 5 points for NAIA/D3). The factors are split into two categories: controlled and non-controlled. The non-controlled factors have a lot more to do with genetics and family conditions, and there is little any athlete can do to adjust those in a meaningful way. The controlled factors are the opposite; they are conscious daily, weekly, monthly, and lifetime decisions made by the athlete that slowly tip the scale in the direction they want to go. Here is the breakdown:

Division-1 College Athlete (10 total points needed)

*Give up your sport for 6 months, or keep your sport and give up everything else “fun” for 6 months?

Division-2 College Athlete (10 total points needed)

*Same as above except for 2 months

Division-3/NAIA College Athlete (5 total points needed)

*If you sat the bench for your first month of the season, would you quit or stick with it?

While the metrics in here are not exact, the overall theme is important, and pretty accurate. The way to get your point total is slightly different for D1 and D2, and radically different when looking at D3. You can read the graphs from the top-down or bottom-up, depending on where an athlete and parent want to be. But here’s a few notes:

Being a college athlete is not hard to do. There are a ton of small schools out there that will take anyone. And I mean ANYONE.  Our 2012 Marygrove roster had 3 kids that had never made a high school basketball team. And we were middle-of-the-pack record-wise and in the upper 5% talent-wise for all NAIA schools. If you want to play at a small college, first check to make sure your heart is beating and then start sending emails and highlight tapes. It doesn’t take much. And it certainly doesn’t require lots of money pumped into kids travel teams. Save that for Albion, Hope, and Olivet’s tuition. It’s gonna be around 40 grand!

Recruit yourself. Alyssa Jabara is the best example I have heard of this. She played for a good travel softball team in high school but was not getting the college attention she wanted. So she took it upon herself and emailed coaches every weekend starting her junior year. She is at Concordia now (in the NAIA league with Marygrove, Madonna, Aquinas, etc.) and a lot of that has to do with the initiative she took. The extra controlled factors she put in that more closely resembled D2 is the difference between her just being on the team and her beating out 2 upper-class catchers as a freshman last year.

1-month quit test. Small school sports suck. There were bigger crowds at high school games. You get crammed van rides for hours and hours. Practices are at 6 am. In other words, you put in a ton of work and get very little publicity – especially if you are 1) a girl or 2) playing anything besides football and basketball. And on top of that, scholarships are treated differently at this level, so don’t be surprised if you came in with a handful of other freshman at the same position. There were 7 freshman quarterbacks on the football roster during my only semester at Albion. And the coach still asked me to try out. The more kids they bring in, the more enrollment goes up. Bottom line is, you have to love the game unconditionally.

Well maybe I’ll just go D2 instead. The Division-2 level is the most misunderstood tier of college sports in my opinion. These dudes (or girls) can play, man. Everyone thinks they are pros here, and to their credit, some of them are right. You’ll notice that there is a big jump from NAIA/DIII to the D2 level, and D2 is not that much different than the D1 requirements. The areas I have noticed the biggest difference in the D1 and D2 athletes are the non-controlled areas, which are just a tad lower than the D1 group. But where this can get tricky is with transferring. Take Glenn Winston, who had the makeup for D1 but didn’t get the playing time he wanted at MSU, so he transferred to Northwood and immediately played in front of Cam – who, by the way, had all the measurables and connections to make a really good D2 running back. Division-2 is loaded with talent, and it’s often people who shoot for D1 and miss that are standouts, not D3 kids looking to move up.

Non-controlled factors. Now we get into the Division-1 category, and this is where there are pretty solid factors that are not completely mandatory, but very hard to bypass. Measurables are simply the raw mass of your body. For instance, if you are 7’0, or over 6’6 with arms longer than your height, you have the right measurables for a D1 basketball player. If you are over 300 lbs., you can be a D1 offensive lineman. The specifics are different with every sport, the idea is the same. “Elite” skill means that your skill in that area is at a professional level. I knew Alex Marcotullio growing up at St. Dennis (he is good friends with my cousin Josh) and he played for The Family the year after I got there. By everyone’s account I was better at dribbling, driving, mid-range shooting, passing, defense, rebounding, and I was stronger and better conditioning than he was. But his 3-point shooting was – no joke – NBA worthy. Combine that with the measurables for his position (Jay Junkin’s height) and he played 4 years at Northwestern. Connections are the next thing, because with all that skill and genetics, a lot of it depends on who you know. All it takes is for one coach to like you.

Social Norms. Now we are into controlled factors, and this one comes directly from Matt Fecht. This means when the normal thing to do is party after you won a game, you skip it and sneak back into the gym to practice more. Or when it is snowing outside, you still get your training run in, regardless of the awkward looks you get. Your “process” takes precedence over what is considered normal by peers.

Scheduled down-time. For most elites in their field, down-time does not happen when they feel like it. It is built into their schedule. This includes family events, television, video games, cheat meals, and parties. Time away is a very important part of staying healthy. As Kobe Bryant said, “If the sun never went down, everyone would get sun-burned.” But even the sun does it on a schedule. So set a cheat meal to coincide with your grandma’s 90th birthday party, or plan on some father-son bonding whenever Michigan is playing on Saturday, and use that as an incentive/reward for staying on track during the time leading up. My personal productivity, both as an athlete and gym owner, really coincides with this.

No job. Your sport is your job. End of discussion.

S&C + Individual practice. One of the things I tell families is that if their son wants to play Division 1 basketball, they should not be relying on paying a trainer to improve their game. If the kid doesn’t have the passion to spend 2 hours per day practicing by himself, then no trainer is going to fill that void. On the other hand, having some kind of direction is good, but only to guide your individual efforts. Strength and conditioning is a different area of expertise, so having a coach is a little more beneficial, but a determined athlete can definitely get away with working out alone. Still, this is mandatory.

AAU. Okay here’s the deal: If your travel team is legit, they are sponsored by an apparel company. If you are not paying team dues, or travel expenses, or equipment fees, then you are probably sponsored (unless there’s a very rich parent). Also, apparel companies don’t sponsor youth programs, only high school. So just know that having Nike gear and having a Nike contract are two separate things. If you are not part of a sponsored team and you are a legit prospect, then you are either not paying the full amount, or not paying anything at all. Your payment is your coach getting to say he “coached” you. If you think you are a legit prospect and you can’t pull the juice card, then you are not a legit prospect.

School. You can go to school at any point in your life. On the other hand, you have about an 8-year window where you can make money on your athletic abilities. If 8 hours of homework per week is eating into sports training, then cut out some homework. You don’t need a 4.54 GPA, a 3.0 will work just fine. If you can’t get a 3.0, then just start turning in your freaking homework. That’s like a 2.8 right there! Then be nice to that smart kid who idolizes to you and it’s all set.

Food and bed. Nutrition is like religion, and sleeping remains to be one of the most unfigured-out things in the world of health and fitness. I have opinions about what are best practices. Your coach has opinions. Your grandpa has opinions. As long as you are making conscious daily decisions for both, then you get two checks.

November 2014 - right around the time Alyssa started recruiting herself and Matt was... well... still being Matt.

Now, the important thing to understand is that the more stock you have in one column, the less you need in the other. For instance, if you are 7’0 with an 90-inch wing span, then you can spend all the time immersed in your homework as you want; somebody is going to give you a free tuition to win points in the lay-up line. On the other hand, if you have every single category covered in the Controlled column, you might be able to get away with not being tall, fast, or big.

The idea is to have this reality check when setting goals. So if Andrew-who-got-cut-from-his-7th-grade-team still has dreams to play for John Beilein, he can look at the list and be like, “yep, I can see myself putting in that kind of commitment,” or “ooh… yeah that doesn’t look like something I’d be willing to do.” Either way, the information is right there and the decision to start pumping money and time and energy into that sport becomes clear. Or, at least a more educated guess. It’s the difference between asking someone what they want for Christmas and hoping they will use a $50 Whole Foods gift card.

...........

For this 2017-2018 season there are 7 D1 basketball schools in Michigan, which have a total of 114 roster spots:

  • Central Michigan: 18
  • Eastern Michigan: 16
  • Western Michigan: 14
  • Oakland: 16
  • Detroit Mercy: 17
  • Michigan: 17
  • Michigan State: 16

There are 9 D2 basketball schools in Michigan, which have a total of 138 roster spots:

  • Lake Superior State: 14
  • Northern Michigan: 17
  • Ferris State: 17
  • Wayne State: 13
  • Michigan Tech.: 15
  • Davenport: 17
  • Grand Valley: 18
  • Saginaw Valley: 13
  • Northwood: 14

This is a total of 252 roster spots for Division 1 (114) and Division 2 (138) combined.

When you go two levels lower to the NAIA (132) and DIII (114), you have 246 total roster spots:

NAIA*

  • Cornerstone: 16
  • U of M Dearborn: 18
  • Rochester: 17
  • Madonna: 17
  • Aquinas: 22
  • Sienna Heights: 15
  • Concordia: 17
  • Lawrence Tech: 10 (first-year program)

DIII*

  • Adrian: 12
  • Albion: 17
  • Alma: 24
  • Calvin: 16
  • Hope: 15
  • Kalamazoo: 17
  • Olivet: 13

*does not include roster numbers for JV teams, which usually carry at least 10 and fluctuate

Now when you take this down to the high school level, there are 710 school varsity basketball teams in the state of Michigan:

  • Class A = 188 teams
  • Class B = 180 teams
  • Class C = 170 teams
  • Class D = 172 teams

Assuming 13 kids per roster, there are 9,230 varsity basketball players in the 2017-2018 season.

That means that approx. 4% of all high school players will play college. Obviously there is a degree of variety to that, seeing as kids can go to college out of state, and Michigan schools recruit all over the Midwest (and world, see Mo Wagner, Stauskas). Also, basketball has the fewest roster spots of any sport, but it’s probably all relative with baseball, football, and track, which routinely carry rosters of 20, 60, and 100 kids respectively.

The specific numbers don’t matter as much as the overall message: a very small percentage of kids get to play a college sport. I, personally, think that is awesome. It’s something to be proud of whether it’s Alyssa Jabara playing at Concordia or Alan Wisniewski at Penn State. They are part of a select group of people who had a combination of controlled and non-controlled factors that gave them the opportunity to compete at a very high level.  If a formalized list is available to show the demands at each level, families will realize that playing college sports is not for everyone, but it is for anyone.

Update from Squarespace re: Comments

Hey kids, so it turns out this one is not just us and our old site, other squarespace sites have been having this problem as well. Here's a message I got yesterday.

Tyler R. (Squarespace5)

Jan 16, 5:31 PM EST

Hi Chris,

Thank you for reporting this! We're currently investigating issues with anonymous comments not appearing on sites. Note this issue does not affect visitors who leave a comment while logged into their account. 

I've marked your case a follow-up, so we'll be reaching out to you directly as soon as we receive an update from our testing team. 

I understand this is an inconvenience and sincerely appreciate your patience as we work on resolving this. Please reach out if you have any questions in the meantime. 
Best,

I'll keep you all posted - I know the timing has been bad - what with Binno's meals and the College Athletics post. I'll probably put those back up for discussion. But anyway, hang tight.