On my journey as an athlete and strength coach, I’ve always made a point to spend time around inspirational people. Some folks are impressive for their athletic accomplishments. Others inspire me with their character or lifestyle. Only a few can do both. One local Phys. Ed. Teacher/athlete/coach does it all.
Dani Schwalbe is a world class strength athlete. She was a two sport athlete at Boise State University before moving onto the sport of Strongman, where she was able to earn her pro card by capturing her division’s 2015 title of Strongest Woman in The World. Schwalbe is also a pretty great coach. With a degree in physical education, she teaches high school PE, and has experience coaching at the high school and collegiate levels. I feel lucky to say that we’ve been good friends since 2011, and I’ve seen how passionate she is about her pupils. Dani is an even better person than she is a coach or athlete.
I wish I had Ms. Schwalbe for high school gym, too. Her classroom is filled with cool toys. She’s got axle bars, yokes, sleds, atlas stones, and more. She’s even got a DIY contraption outside that’s reminiscent of Conan the Barbarian churning his mill. She lets her students push and pull her truck for fun. It’s a pretty wild, fun atmosphere, and the kids respond. At this alternative school for kids with behavior and learning problems, Ms. Schwalbe is reaching even the kids others have given up on. She preaches that with hard work and self love everything is possible. Schwalbe is “that one teacher” who really makes a difference for a lot of kids.
The most important thing I learned from Dani is the power of conviction. Believing in whatever you’re doing, and having the right motivations, is a powerful tool in accomplishing any goal. In the never ending quest to find and perfect a recipe for winning, I have learned to only pursue the goals I believe in most.