SSP is excited to hit our 10th anniversary of being in business! It has been a fun journey to date. Over the last decade we have upgraded our facility three different times and about to open our most recent home in a month. We have worked with thousands of clients ranging from 7 year olds up to 78 year old individuals. All that said, you don’t make it 10 years in business without some key people who have helped us along the way. We couldn’t think of a better way to start our next 10 years than to say THANK YOU to some of these people.
1. Drew Nemec and Kathy Finnucan (Trinity Preparatory School)
This is where it all started for SSP. As a Strength Coach for the Brooklyn Cyclones (New York Mets affiliate) founder and President, Will Hitzelberger, received a call from the Trinity Prep Baseball Coach inquiring about a strength program when he returned to Florida. It was this call that opened a door to introductions to the Athletic Directors, Kathy Finnucan and Drew Nemec. Subsequently, the agreement to allow SSP to rent space for private clients before and after school hours, while being paid to monitor training for all sports teams for the school was struck. This was officially SSP’s first location for two years. To this day, we are still very involved with Trinity Prep by providing a SSP Coach daily to run the Strength and Conditioning Program for all sports.
Kathy and Drew, THANK YOU for being pioneers and having the foresight to bring in specialized personnel to provide quality service for your athletes and students. Ten years ago, this was not the norm, and you took a chance on supporting two guys on a mission. Over the last decade we have enjoyed our relationship with the two of you and Trinity Preparatory School. We look forward to many years to come!
2. Tony Amato and Keith Buckley (Rollins College Athletics)
Once the company was off the ground and running, Rollins College was always a target to work with. Hitzelberger played for the University of Tampa, a rival school of Rollins, where he had seen a strength and conditioning program work effectively with their teams and how important it was to the success of many of the teams, his included (they won a National Championship while he was there). With a former Rollins soccer player as a business partner, Dan Schuck, they had an in to Rollins. Combine that with a young and motivated Women’s Soccer Coach in Tony Amato and some synergies start to emerge. Tony was on a mission to create a nationally ranked program and he knew that Strength and Conditioning was an area that he wanted to add to help with the cultural change he wanted to bring to the program and the athletic advantage he needed to help make his goal a reality.
Coach Amato brought Keith Buckley, the men’s soccer head coach, to the initial meeting to hear the pitch. Coach Buckley was not sold on the idea and needed more convincing. But both were willing to take a leap of faith and entrust their teams to SSP for their strength, speed, and conditioning needs.
We started with both team in the Fall of 2005 and over the next couple of years we would attract over 10 different sport teams. Currently, we remain an independent contractor to the Rollins College Athletic Department by still providing a Strength and Conditioning Coach daily throughout the year.
A special thanks to the very motivated Tony Amato who is now at the University of Arizona and Keith Buckley for buying into the system supporting us. We also owe a debt of gratitude to the Athletic Director, Pennie Parker, and the entire coaching staff that we have been involved with over the last 10 years. It has been a fantastic group of people to work with and we love being part of this team!
3. Joe Raymond
Where to start with Joe? As SSP moved out of Trinity Prep and took out our first loan to move into our own 2500 sq. ft. facility, it was time to fill out that space as quickly as possible. We invited coaches, friends and affiliates to try our service, many times for free. We started a close group of coaches and friends that worked out at the same time each day, and one of them was Joe. Dan knew him through Rollins as the goalkeeping coach, but didn’t know much about who or what he did. What we later found out was Joe was analyzing our business while training with us. Seeing how we sold, what processes we had in place for customer service, client retention, and basically what we were doing as business owners. Will and Dan had lofty goals, a good service, and a business plan, but were young and figuring out how to build and run a business at the same time. It can be hard to see the forest through the trees… well, Joe sees both. One day Joe told us a little bit about what he did and asked if we would like him to mentor us.
Joe is a managing Partner of RVR Consulting, a company specializing in solving business challenges and accomplishing strategic goals. Joe specifically, has been involved in the sale or purchase of over 25 companies ranging from $3 to $150 million in sales. So the two guys who didn’t want a boss… just got a new boss. They reported to him weekly on everything ranging from developing processes, creating marketing strategies, organizing financials, hiring and retention, and the list goes on. His insights allowed us to get over day to day obstacles that seemed large at the time, but turned out to be simple changes that were extremely impactful.
More than a mentor, Joe has been a good friend to both Will and Dan and we continue lean on his impressive business sense. Joe, SSP is not sure where they would be today without your much needed support, we appreciate all your help and advice over the years.
In 2006 we began our relationship with Nike through SPARQ, originally a standardize test for sport. Our role with Nike SPARQ grew over the years with the evolution and growth of SPARQ. We were invited to testing events, combines, and other initiatives this branch of Nike was doing. SSP was invited to Nike headquarters for the annual Performance Summit in 2012 and 2013, with some of the best minds in the field to discuss best practices and SPARQ methodology. Most recently, SPARQ has been reorganized and SSP has been brought into the Nike Training Network. We again made a trip to Nike in 2014 as a part of this team. It has been an honor and privilege to be a part of one of the most innovative companies in the world and we are very excited about our future roles and growth.
5. Seacoast (Formerly Bank First)
As mentioned previously, in 2007, SSP felt it was ready to open its first facility. We had what we thought was a strong clientele, somewhere between 30 and 40 clients, and that we were ready to take our first big gamble. What we needed was someone to believe in what we were doing to fund our equipment needs to start our own place. We were advised to speak to Bank First and got the opportunity to pitch our business for our first loan of $50,000.
Our main point of contact for many years has been John Casebier, area president for BankFirst (now Seacoast), and he continues to be our primary person we get to work with at Seacoast National Bank. John, we owe you a special thanks for your continued support of our evolving and growing business over the years. His service and interaction with us has been great to have in an age where personal relationships within a bank are hard to come by. Thanks John!
6. Rocco Aceto
In our first year at Trinity, they hired a new Swim Coach, Rocco Aceto. As soon as Rocco started, he asked about the schools strength and conditioning program. The initial meeting was a little like two alpha males squaring off to claim their ground. It wasn’t a fight, more of an aggressive feeling out process, one that both walked away with a great respect level for the other’s conviction and competitiveness. They both realized that they had similar goals… make this program the best possible program in the region. Rocco wanted a specific culture for his program and SSP’s training mentality and plan was vital to that equation. Since that time, Rocco has been one of SSP’s biggest and most consistent supporters.
Rocco has been the head coach of an elite collegiate swimming program, worked with Olympic swimmers, and a number of talented professionals in the swimming world. We have worked year around with Rocco for the last 10 years and are extremely appreciative of the swim world he has brought us into.
7. Hue Menzies
In 2008, Hue moved to Orlando to take over Central Florida United (local soccer club) as the Director of Coaching that SSP was currently contracted with. As a former collegiate coach in Texas, then the director of one of the biggest clubs in Texas where sports performance were mandates for him, making sports performance an integral part of his new club was a must. He decided to keep SSP as his provider for the club. Over the years, CFU would go through some mergers, fold and eventually come back as Florida Kraze/Krush Soccer Club. The one constant through these mergers was that Hue continued to mandate sports performance training for his players. He felt strongly about its value and placed a priority for his players club-wide to be exposed to it. He has remained loyal to SSP through all of those changes and we appreciate him for that.
Most recently, Hue introduced SSP into the Jamaican National Soccer team as the performance specialist for the Women’s team. Hue has been one of the most loyal SSP advocates that we have ever had and we owe you a huge thank you.
We recently received a Facebook message from our very first employee and coach, posting a picture of Will and Dan trying to do their own demolition and painting of the the first facility (Dan’s car has some battle wounds to show for the painting effort). Over the years we have had an incredible group of people that have worked at SSP. We consider it a family here and we have seen it grow with many still with us for 3 or more years. We currently employ about 10 full time people and will be adding very soon with the move. The passion that our staff brings to SSP is palpable and our clients feel that each time they come in. They work hard to help each person realize their full potential and they are intent on bettering their knowledge levels to better serve you. It is an understatement to say we wouldn’t be where we are today without them. They are the faces of SSP, they are the future of SSP, and they represent the company in a way we could not be more proud of. Thank you to each and every one of you that have been a part of the SSP team over the years!
Over the last 10 years SSP’s growth has come mostly from ‘word of mouth.’ And that mouth is our clients. The thousands of people that have been through our system over the years, who share their experiences with others, bring their friends to “endure the fun”, and spread the word about the service we offer. YOU have allowed this company to grow, and YOU are the one that gets up each day, inspired to make yourself better, and we THANK YOU for allowing us to help you on that journey. YOU are the reason we all get into this business…to change lives, to help people reach their goals, and to see you reach goals you didn’t think you could. So thank you for carrying the message to others, bringing your friends and family is the best testimony we could hope for.
10. Significant Others
Our industry hours and demands are significantly different than most jobs. We work early mornings, late nights and on the weekends. Sports and fitness don’t happen during normal working hours and often our personal lives and those closest take the brunt of that reality. So to all of our staff member’s wives, husbands, and significant others…..Thank You!
Will and Dan would also like to say a special thank you to their wives and also give you a peak into how the history of SSP came to be. Dan’s wife, Alicia, was a professional soccer player in Seattle for half the year, and was coaching Trinity Prep girls varsity team in the off-season of 2005. When Alicia heard about Will being at Trinity she started working out with him in the mornings for her upcoming season. Will needed a business partner and Alicia mentioned that her boyfriend was interested in pursuing this field. Will dismissed the idea and invited her to bring him to 6am workouts. If he was worth keeping around, he would find out real quick! Here we are 10 years later.
Several years later Will was running the Strength and Conditioning at Rollins College, where Alicia was the assistant Women’s Soccer Coach. Will didn’t know it at the time, but he was training his future wife, Jaki. After Jaki, finished her playing career, she and Will were re-introduced through some mutual friends. To come full circle, Will and Dan were introduced by Dan’s wife, Alicia, who is now the head coach at Rollins College, who coached Will’s wife Jaki.
We can’t do justice to the thank you that you both deserve, but know your love and support is necessary for us to make it where we are today.