TWU Gymnastics

Mentor: A New Opportunity for your Athletes and Teams

Mentorship is one of those words that can get overused and even misused today especially in the sports world. It’s gotten to the point where there is a lot of confusion about what a mentor actually is. Many coaches think they are mentors just because they coach a team especially within youth athletics.

Many college coaches think they have mentors already in place within their teams. The most common misbelief is that because they have a sports psychologist on staff they have mentorship for their athletes.

This is not saying sports psychologists don’t have their place, but rather REAL mentorship is a new opportunity. It’s something completely different!

It’s more than a positive role model in their life. Actually it can be someone that knows how to push their buttons. It’s someone that knows how to ask the right questions in order to get to the root causes of an individual’s struggles. 

Because of that trust and connection it’s someone that’s going to look them in the face and be honest with them even when the conversation is difficult…

So there are 2 goals for this Blog:

  1. Tell you how I got to understanding real mentorship
  2. Difference between mentorship and sports psychologists

If you know me at any level you know I could write for days on this topic but let’s start small today and help you understand how I got to this point.

My Mentor

Not that long ago I was a college athlete. Except at that time I hated being a college athlete. I was sad, lost and depressed. I had no concept about who I was as a person.

This downward spiral led to that night shortly into my freshman year as I laid in bed and asked myself two critical questions…

I asked myself what I truly knew about myself…

Then I followed up with what do I love about waking up and living…

Neither question I could find anything inspiring or joyful. So I simply told myself what’s the point of waking up in the morning. Staring at that bottle of pills sitting on the edge of my desk telling myself hopefully I can take enough of these to not wake up in the morning.

Obviously I made it through those 4 years as I am writing to you today. It was a fake 4 years. 4 years of a false identity. Waking up like I was an actor and putting my costume on to present some bullshit version of myself and personality.

I masked and suppressed it while drinking and partying. Looking back on it over that time frame I never really dove wholeheartedly into anything, including athletics.

While a piece of me wanted to be an accomplished athlete there was no fire in my soul about it. I was a walking zombie as a person…

One of those things that got me through that time period was subconsciously I hung onto the concept that once you graduate and “you find your passion” that’s real joy!

The Next Downfall

So that’s what I did was plow through college. Then I felt like I had a desire to get into the strength and conditioning world, BUT FIRST I had to tell my dad that I did not want to work for him. He owns his own business and throughout those 4 years of college it was somewhat understood that I was going to work for him…

So I followed my passion! Had a conversation with him and chased my dreams.

Fast Forward 3-4 years and business is booming. Business is growing like crazy for us, this was supposed to be a part of our joyful life.

Then that day it hit me like an avalanche and I was hiding in the office depressed again.

I decided I needed more help and sought out therapy. Moving along…

I found some success in therapy but I never felt like it was actually getting to the root cause of things. I always describe it as more of like a bandaid not the preventative cure.

Enter First Mentor 

Several months into therapy by kinda “accident” is when I had a first conversation with my now mentor Deberah Bringelson. It actually started as a business mentorship/relationship yet shifted extremely fast into a personal mentor!

As I have learned, the universe always delivers. It’s always looking out for you but we just have to allow it to flow into our existence.

One of the first things she ever told me was whether it was shifting in business, relationships or as a person. It’s a shift in identity. I was living Ryan 1.0 and until I decided what that Ryan 2.0 looked and felt like it was always going to be that roller coaster of emotions.

Nearly 5 years later and I still get the opportunity to work with her. Again I will spare you all the success stories I have had through her teachings and implementation…

BUT there was one thing I KNEW, that there are many college athletes out there just like me. And what if I could pass along the teachings and work I have done with Deberah to shift thousands of young athletes across the country.

This is not something that I try to take credit for inventing but with her blessings and knowing my own personal experiences athletes are craving this type of opportunity.

It started with practicing this style of mentorship within the gym and kids immediately started having success…

Then I started my speaking and getting in front of teams to talk about these topics but they were only “1 off” speaking opportunities and knew they needed more…

That led me to developing our Performance and Mentor program. Where I travel every month to meet with specific college teams. And the other weeks throughout the month we meet on an individual basis.

The results have been kinda mind blowing for me. Both on the individual and team level. From multiple teams winning conference and national championships this year!

I do not say this to brag but rather to show this stuff works! 

Mentorship vs. Sports Psychology

The most common response when talking with college coaches about this program is that they already have something like this in place. Most of the time they are referring to the team having a sports psychologist working with their team.

I won’t dive too deep into this today but I will say this both teams that won championships this season had a sports psych person on staff too but the reason I was around also is because every one of the athletes after our first month told their coaches 

“Ryan is different.” Their words not mine. 

Yes there are some topics that might overlap. I would totally agree but its the tools, resources and the language that we use are another reason there is a major difference.

Secondly, this is a HUGE one. To help anyone become open and vulnerable there must be some type of trust and connection between people.

That’s why in our system the first meeting I do ZERO teaching. I do not talk about their performance or really anything about them.

Actually I tell them point blank this is their chance to audit and assess me. Give me an hour and afterwards you will have a pretty clear decision as to whether I am someone you will open up with…

I use that hour to quickly tell my story. Most people stand in front of these kids and tell them how much success they have with their program trying to get them to buy in.

For me I tell them the deep and dark side of Ryan 1.0. The Ryan that wanted to end his life multiple times. The person was 18 year old freshman lonely and confused why everyone else seemed to have life figured out.

All the flaws that I had in college and even the flaws now I put on the table! It’s why I still utilize mentors because I am still wanting to upgrade…

That’s building a REAL connection. That allows individuals, especially college age kids to start to open up because I meet them on their level. 

I know what pain is. What suffering is. I have dealt with drama and trauma and I tell them that part of me because I wanna help steer you towards all the pleasures of life!

Now maybe there are a few out there but each year the sports psychologist is not coming in for their kickoff team meeting and tell the athletes all the times they were sad, lonely or suicidal. 

Mentor Journey

That’s the very short story version of how I got to this point. That’s one or two examples that show this is a new opportunity for your teams and athletes.

It’s not about picking one or the other. It’s not about figuring out if one is better than the other. That’s a personal decision I made within my own life…

But it’s about understanding there is a major difference in the opportunities!

My wish is that you found some value and understanding within this.

Decide what you want and go get it!


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