I was enjoying a Saturday afternoon swim with my grandbabies Ashley (6) and Ava (4). They were teaching me how to swim… literally!
We were going through our normal rituals, ranging from me throwing them in the air to both girls playing “hair salon,” which is a drill I go through of getting my hair styled.
I always enjoy “Ava & Ashley’s Beauty Salon” because it’s just like every hair salon where a woman goes to get a “new do.” There is a lot of chatter about everything under the sun ranging from gossip to bragging. Am I lying? Of course not.
This particular day Ashley and Ava took turns bragging about how their daddy Cory had just been selected Osceola County Coach of the Year for his feats as St. Cloud High School’s weightlifting coach.
Cory was selected by a vote of his peers and administrators from all over Osceola County. He and seven other nominees were recently honored with a banquet where he received the M. Dean Cherry Award as the county’s top coach.
Cory had earlier been chosen Coach of the Year for St. Cloud High School. When Ava and Ashley learned that one of the parents at the meeting testified that “Coach Aun is the only father our son has ever had,” this confused them a bit. “I thought he was just our daddy?” asked Ava.
I explained that his lifters are like his family.
As Cory is fond of saying, “The heaviest thing you will ever lift is the teammate next to you when they are down.”
The girls seem to have accepted the fact that all the Bulldog weightlifters are like big brothers to them. They spend as much time with their daddy in the weight room as some of the kids on his team, and they know them all.
When your father is in charge of weightlifting, the job of strength and conditioning transcends to every sport in the school. He is an assistant coach on the girl’s weightlifting team as well as an assistant football coach.
It’s not uncommon for members of the baseball, softball, basketball, swimming or golf teams to come wondering in to find ways to improve as well. He does this in addition to his primary duties as the biology teacher at St. Cloud High School.
“Our daddy likes to blow things up at school,” explained four year old Ava. As the biology teacher in the Honors program he’s constantly experimenting with plants and other materials to show teach his students about the how and why of his topic.
Deep in his heart, Cory is an educator. His non-traditional methods of teaching transcend to the weight room where methodology is the primary focus.
I recently had the privilege of being “ball boy” for the Bulldog spring game at Tom Gannerelli Field. During a lengthy lightening break, two eighth grade girls approached Cory asking if they could come and learn about weightlifting.
Their main concern was they knew nothing about the discipline of lifting and were afraid to try it. Cory assured him that as many girls as boys enjoy the weights. It’s not uncommon to find the entire girl’s cheerleading squad in the weight room lifting to get stronger.
The fine art of weightlifting is all about technique. Just like his science class, Cory’s main objective is to teach the correct way to do things, never putting one’s self in harm’s way. That includes his insistence that his lifters warm up properly and that they progress gradually in the process.
My granddaughter Ashley (6) was gossiping as she worked on my “Mohawk” hairdo at poolside. “You should let my daddy show you how to lift weights, Jiddo (the Arabic word for grandfather). Maybe you won’t struggle so much when you throw us in the air.”
I wanted to tell them that my strength hasn’t waned as much as the fact that they have grown and gained weight. My throwing days are fast coming to an end, thanks to the fact that they’re growing up and I’m growing old. Such is life!
Michael Aun is a syndicated columnist and writes a weekly column for this newspaper. To contact Michael Aun, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.