The Ralph Cornwell Files- Hard Decisions

The Ralph Cornwell Files

Life has many turning points. Each turning point involves a choice. While they may be difficult choosing can be a catalyst for personal growth.

describe the imageRalph Cornwell is a Ph.D. candidate in health promotion/human performance at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Prior to pursuing his Doctoral Degree he was a collegiate strength coach.

He is currently developing a  protocol for strength training the musculature that protects the cervical spine.


There is no doubt there is a tremendous amount of pressure to win in athletics. People want to be associated with a winner. Alumni, students attending school or fans want their team to be successful.

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If the coach does not win his job is at risk. Obviously, coaches are concerned with performance. With pressure, a coach may make an uncharacteristic decision.

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I know it may be difficult in such a competitive environment, but  decisions must be based on what is best for the athletes who play the game. First and foremost, a coach must be an advocate for the athletes off the field and insure they are physically prepared for competition on the field.

As a young strength coach I came to a crossroad in my career. We like every other staff and team had pressure to win. In the off-season the head football coach examined all aspects of the entire program and looked for ways to improve performance.

The coaches choice for performance enhancement was surprising. I was told to remove the training for the head and neck region of all athletes on the football team and substitute the neck exercises with movements that he felt improved athleticism. He felt that the head and neck training was unneeded and I was to begin to do things that benefited performance.

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My staff and I had a meeting that same day and I explained the situation. We voted as a staff to continue training the athletes  musculature of the cervical spine.  This was vital to their health and safety on the field.

The coach was angry that I did not heed his wishes. I was given an ultimatum. Stop training the head and neck region of the athletes or face termination. I had a muti-year contract that paid well. I was blessed with a great staff to work with.  How could I leave such a great situation?

I went home that night and discussed this decision I had to make with my wife. She simply said, “Do what you know is right”.

I resigned the next morning after informing my staff about my decision. Over the next few weeks my entire staff also resigned.

This incident has turned into a positive and a career change. It has led me into extensive study in training the musculature that protects the cervical spine and brain. I, over the next several years will be able to share nationally my findings: which will include not only protection of the athlete through head and neck training, but…. and I must add Increased Athletic Performance.

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One response to this post.

  1. You are amazing. The wwwwworld will be a better place because of your decision. I can’t wait to find out the ressults of your neck studies.
    Good luck.

    Reply

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