Just got back to PA after spending the past two weeks in North Carolina visiting my friend, Geoff Horsfield. Geoff has two of the coolest jobs imaginable. First, he works at Carolina Tiger Rescue. Second, he works for me doing content management and customer service for The Ultimate Athlete Project.
My visit had three purposes.
- Hang out with Geoff (and puppy sitting!)
- See tigers
- Start athletic development resource for youth coaches
During my stay, Geoff and his roommates got an adorable puppy named Samantha.
While the guys went off to work I tried to make sure Samantha did not pee in the apartment. I was (mostly) successful.
Saving the wild tigers of North Carolina? No. More like saving people from their own stupid decision to try to keep wild animals as pets. Carolina Tiger Rescue is where tigers and other wildcat “pets” go when their owners can no longer handle them. Or if animals are found being kept in poor conditions, they may be rescued and brought here.
Carolina Tiger Rescue has nine different species of cats, not just tigers. Geoff gave me a tour of the place which was totally awesome. I got to see a binturong (yea, I had never heard of them either). Touring the Carolina Tiger Rescue was different than visiting the zoo. Having a tiger stare me down from 3 feet was more frightening than I expected. Despite the fences, it’s hard to override the flight instinct when a 400 pound animal starts jogging toward you with an air of total indifference to your well being.
Before my visit, I had no idea the scope of the problem of wild animals being kept in captivity. There are actually thousands of tigers being kept in captivity in the US outside of accredited zoos. Most tigers in captivity (outside of legit zoos) in the US are mutts – some combination of Bengal and Siberian tiger so they are not preserving a species and not suitable for reintroduction to the wild. Even worse, white tigers, bred for aesthetics and entertainment, are so inbred that most of them are cross eyed.
Ultimate: Resource for Youth Coaches
For the working part of my working vacation, I began work on a new project for youth coaches. Since opening The Ultimate Athlete Project I’ve had many requests from coaches for something they can use for their younger athletes.
Having coached high school players, I know the challenges of doing athletic development work in the practice environment. If you are coaching a youth team, you are likely working with a huge range of athletic ability and interest level. Explanations must be simple, drills must be interesting, and players need to see how they relate to on field performance. But if we can meet these challenges, we can help young athletes to develop strong fundamental movement patterns. We have the ability to can set them up for long and healthy ultimate careers.
I spent a few training sessions with Chapel Hill High School doing some speed, agility, and jumping modules.
Below is just one example of the kind of information and drill progressions I’d like to include in the website I’m creating. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment at the end of this post!
Athletic Position and Fast Footwork
This drill is about moving the feet from under the center of mass and back quickly and under control.
Fast Footwork to Sprint
A progression of the above drill. From light feet to force production.
These are great drills to do right after (or as part of) your dynamic warmup. They are simple, fun, don’t take much time, and will help with your kids’ footwork and coordination.
The website and content for this project is still under construction. If you’re a youth coach, I would love your input! Join this email list to provide feedback on the project as it develops! You’ll get the first look at educational modules and drills. And you’ll be the first to know when the complete resource is ready and available for purchase.
In conclusion, I leave you with 5 random wildcat facts:
2. There may be as many as 10,000 tigers living in captivity in the United States. Only 4% of those are in accredited zoos.
3. Up to 17 different species rely on the kills and carcasses of mountain lions in the Andes mountains.
4. Lions are the only social cat. Females do 80% of the hunting, males just procreate and defend territory.
5. Servals are keystone species in Africa because one adult serval can kill up to 4,000 rodents a year and 1,000 poisonous snakes.
If you want to help Geoff and the wildcats, please make a contribution!