“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.
High performance athletes are always looking for that edge. What can make them that much better than their competition? Strength and Sport Conditioning Coaches try to help them find that edge and Caleb Mady is teaching the next wave of those coaches.
Mady is a Professor at Canadore College in the Strength and Sport Conditioning Program, and he says to be successful in this field, you need to know how to apply your knowledge.
“In strength and conditioning the barrier to entry is very low and so I tell my students that it's all about what you know and how you apply that in the interview.”
He adds, “I really care about my students, and I do everything in my power to make sure that what they leave here with is something that they can use. They are competing against a big field of candidates and so they have to put themselves in the best position as possible.”
That’s how Mady found himself where he is today. Originally from Brampton, Mady moved to North Bay in 2008 as his mother got a job as a professor at Nipissing University. After graduating from Widdifield Secondary School, Mady says he pursued a bachelor’s degree in physical health and education.
“One of my professors at Nipissing was Mark Bruner who was lifting with the Norsemen and Valkyries Weightlifting Club, and he helped connect me with a novice coach who was looking to get certified. So I started lifting and loved it, and did a couple of competitions and my coach got certified,” says Mady.
“Then in my third year, I did the certification program with the Ontario Weightlifting Association and once I graduated, I did a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification which is basically a personal trainer but specific for athletes.”
Mady says to be a competition development coach with the Ontario Weightlifting Association coaches must bring a novice athlete to an eligible competition.
“And so there are a lot of coaches who want to be certified that are looking for novice athletes. That helps grow the sport really well because at a relatively low cost you can have a coach. They aren’t a seasoned professional, but you get what you pay for. So, the barrier to entry for learning those kinds of movements is extremely low and that just exploded my curiosity,” says Mady.
Following that, Mady pursued his Master of Science in Kinesiology, specifically in Exercise Physiology, at Nipissing University.
“Right after grad school I did my USA weightlifting level one and level two certifications,” he says.
“I also decided I would apply for jobs once I finished my thesis, but around March of 2019, Larry Sheppard told me that he was going to be retiring and there was a position that was going to be posted, and that really opened the flood gates.”
Mady says he started to apply everywhere because he always believed in giving yourself the best opportunity and that means knocking on more than one door.
“There were jobs across Canada, a couple in Ireland, and a couple in Australia that I applied for as well. The first one that got back to me was the one at Canadore and it was the only education-related opportunity that I applied to,” says Mady.
Ironically, he says because of his mother’s job he never envisioned going into education.
“My mom was a teacher and taught high school and then worked in the education division at the University of Toronto. And I always told her that I am never becoming a teacher, it just didn’t interest me to do that, in the public school system. However, here in post-secondary, most of the students are a little more mindful of the fact that they are paying for a service and if they choose not to show up, that’s their money they are wasting by not being here,” says Mady.
“I put everything on pause and dedicated everything I had to do the interview and putting together the best presentation. I also had the benefit of the fact that my mom taught and so I leaned on her to figure out how to apply everything I know and combine it with an educational approach.”
A few days after the interview Mady accepted the job and began working at Canadore College in August of 2019.
A year later, Mady started to look at ways to integrate the program more with the community.
“One of the pillars of Canadore College is community, and I felt like we could be doing better in certain areas where we can demonstrate those core values while enhancing the student's experience,” says Mady.
“Some of them wanted to work with high-performing athletes as part of their placement. It looks good for their resume and looks good for the college and the athletes as well to support their training process. I reached out to the North Bay Battalion and found General Manager Adam Dennis’ contact information and I showed him what I do and whether it could be of value to the students and the team.”
Mady says he met with the coaches and with Dennis in the summer of 2020 and started to put the pieces in place to build this partnership.
“Despite the COIVD-19 pandemic placing restrictions on the season, that was actually a great time to start working out some of the growing pains of this partnership because the outcomes weren’t detrimental to the athletes because they weren’t playing and so their performances couldn’t be negatively impacted by those growing pains,” says Mady.
“It wasn’t a perfect scenario, but we certainly saw a lot of value in continuing this program going forward.”
Mady says he works with the Battalion players several times a week.
“The athletes have one day a week that is completely a day off which is league regulated. So, we will do weightlifting and we go in on whatever day is the furthest away from their next game without interfering with that off day, and sometimes that is Sunday, post-game,” says Mady.
“If we do that lift that day, there are going to be different volumes depending on playing time for the athletes. The typical week would also see a heavier workout on Tuesday, Wednesday would be a bike day to get the blood flowing and Thursday is game day. Friday would be a maintenance day if they aren’t travelling, same with Saturday.”
Mady says it also takes time to build trust and relationships and “The more time I have time to spend with those guys, we hope that they can develop, and the core team should be making visible progress.”
Mady says there is always a lot of information to process in this field and that he tells his students to fully immerse themselves in what they do.
“I tell them they must realize that the odds of being able to have a career where you’re doing just one thing are very little. Especially in strength and conditioning. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do after high school, but you go down and path and the harder you execute that pathway and the more effort you put into making that pathway as meaningful as possible, you get the most information, and then you can decide whether that really is what you want to do or not,” he says.
Mady adds, “I tell my students to get in and start getting certifications as soon as they can because they will learn so much from other people in the field and there are so many places and businesses that are looking for entry-level people to mentor and bring up through the ranks. If they can do that while receiving their formal education, they will make so much more career progress over time rather than waiting to finish their education first.”
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