The Quest Reveals Tom Blazina: A Lesson In Heart and Desire

by CoachZ on September 26, 2009

The Lesson of Tom Blazina

Back in 1982 I was building one of my first businesses, a business dedicated to training top-caliber local athletes. I started the business with $50 and an idea, a story in and of itself, and before I knew it we were wall-to-wall athletes, budding young super stars wanting to make the team, not only to make the team but start, not only start but dominate, not only dominate but be noticed by the top universities in the country.

In other words, they wanted to make an impact on and in their sport…which is their community, the only one that matters to most of them.

You see, an athlete’s sport is the foundation of their identity, their performance defining who they are in every way that matters…to them.

Right or wrong, that is the perception of most top-caliber athletes…they are athletes first, everything else flows from that.

Enter Tom Blazina. Tommy to those who knew him…

Tommy was a young kid.

They all were really.

Tommy was from one of the less “known” high schools in the area. The town he was from considered a “cow town” or out in “the sticks” by most, a “hick town” by more than a few. It was certainly not a St. Ignatius or Cincinnati Moeller level program, even in 1982 two of the biggest high school programs in the state of Ohio; and, emerging as national powers…even back then.

The town Tom was from was barely a blip on the map compared to the bigger cities with their Division 1A programs, their top-tier athletes, fancy uniforms, ultra sophisticated training facilities…the whole shooting match!.

Let’s call Tommy’s hometown Homerville…it kind of fits with the stereotype back then.

Not now…but then!

So anyway, enter Tommy Blazina, a freckle-faced kid with red hair, no kidding, and a slight build. My manager and I took one look at Tom, scratched our heads, and wondered simultaneously where this kid had come from. Even back then, in the beginning, we were selective about the athletes we took on.

After all, we were building a “brand,” although we had no idea what a “brand” was back then…we just called it a reputation.

And we were selective about the kid of kids we took on so we would be able to point to the end product, a physical dynamo in their sport, and claim to have “done it all!”

We weren’t really that bad…but we were being careful and Tommy just didn’t fit the mold.

I made an excuse, went to the phone, and called the sales rep who had signed Tom up for our program. After he settled me down a bit, he explained that he had talked to his coach, his teammates, his parents, and to Tom…and Tom had “something.” None of them, including the rep, seemed to know what the “something” was…but they were certain he had it, it just took someone like us to bring it out of him.

“Someone like us?”

Heck, we were still figuring out just what “us” was!

And there were people out there assigning miracle worker status and abilities to “us” already?

Well, I agreed but with a stern warning to the rep to talk to me before he went out of a limb like that again with our reputation. And, I went on to say, if this comes back to bite us in the butt…it would be his head! I was a bit of a hard-charger back then. I guess I have mellowed some over the years but back then I was real quick with an opinion, particularly when I thought someone else’s opinion was in error and it would affect me and my business.

The ignorance of youth at its best!

My youth, not Tom’s!

Tom was a quiet, respectful young man who fit right in, never complained, and did exactly what I told him to do. In short order, Tommy did fit right in. He would come in, do his exercises, always give 110%, as my people were fond of saying, and left it all in the gym. When Tom Blazina finished a workout, there was nothing left for Tom to give until he recovered; and then, usually in corner of the gym for 20-30 minutes before being able to drive home.

48 hours later, Tommy would do the whole thing all over again.

Well, after a while Tom being Tom just kind of blended into the scenery. He neither stood out for being remarkable or for being a dud…he just merged into the program, did everything he was told to do to the best of his ability, and went home…to return 2 days later and merge again.

By the middle of August, it was time for the football players to go on to their respective programs, high school and college. We didn’t have any professionals that first summer, it was more or less our test season. The kids we trained were our test-cases, our guinea pigs, used to see if what we were advocating, our somewhat unorthodox training methods, worked.
One day, an off day when even the kids who were continuing until basketball and wrestling were off, I sat down with my team and we went over each athlete, their initial test scores on day one, their final evaluations, and our expectations for them for the upcoming season.

Interestingly, when we came to Tommy Blazina we all kind of shook our heads…we just didn’t know!

Tom had come and gone with barely a ripple, and yet he had done everything we told him to do and more. Tom was, quite literally, the kind of kid who would, if you demanded it of him, go out into the parking lot at high noon and bark at the moon…just because he was told to! Tom Blazina put himself completely in our hands, trusting us to do the right thing by and for him.

Why did Tom do it all with such blind faith and obedience? Well, part of it was just his nature. And the rest of it was the realization that he didn’t know what to do to get where he wanted to go, combined with, and here is what none of us got (his coach, friends, teammates, parents, and even Tom got it, but we missed it), Tom Blazina had a white hot desire to be “the” guy! Tom wanted to matter, he wanted to be the king of his world, but he didn’t know how to get there…and he felt we did!

So, Tom left us, we all worried and wondered how he would do…and we waited.

It didn’t take long!

The headlines started in week one:

“Senior Phenom Comes Off Bench and Leads Homerville to Victory”

“Blazina is the Real Thing!”

“Real deal” wasn’t used much back then…but would have been, if someone had thought of it.

By the midpoint of the season, they were talking about Tommy for All-State honors and there was a mention that some of the Big 10 schools were starting to notice this kid from “the sticks.”

By the end of the season, Tom Blazina was one of our poster-athletes, and we had quite a few….dozens!

Tom had quietly put himself in our hands, quietly went about the task of becoming who he envisioned himself to be all along, and then made his statement on the field. Tom Blazina remained a quiet and unassuming young man throughout the season and beyond. Tom was humble and a pleasure to be around. But Tom Balzina had also become the person he envisioned himself to be, quietly and with purpose! Tom had kept that to himself the whole time but he must have had that white hot desire burning in his chest…because he succeeded in a manner none of us, even those who worked with him every day, day in and day out, imagined.

The lesson? Well, there were many!

All the apparent ones:

• Desire…Burning Desire!
• Vision
• The power of envisioning a future outcome or event
• Goal setting
• A mastermind group

Those were all there and worked for him, helping him to achieve his goal.

But he also used us, in a good way, to get what he wanted. He put himself in the hands of a coach, a mentor, and a trainer…sometimes all in one, and did exactly what was asked of him…demanded of him…until he made it! He never argued, he never once said


He simply enrolled, turned himself over, trusted, and acted!

I think there are several lessons here, and it is my hope you will take from this what you will. Tom’s story is not unusual but it is unique. Think about that one for a while! I have coached a number of Tom Blazina’s over the years and most of them are successful even today, in business and in life. Some are business people, some are coaches themselves, and most are amazing men and women who know the value of a white hot desire combined with the right coach and/or mentor. That combination, along with the willingness to take action, will turn desire into reality every time! Tommy Blazina learned it. I learned it over and over again from the Tommy Blazinas who came across my path and elbowed their way into my life forever…and so can you.

It is never too late!


John P. J. Zajaros, Sr., PhD
Skype: johnzajaros1

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: