Why Our NAKOA Warriors are Freakin’ Dope

John Welch Lifestyle, Perspective

There are quite a few gyms, clubs and recreational centers scattered around San Diego. Their members shuttle in and out exchanging glances or the occasional wave or hello and then quickly put their headphones on and commence to run through the latest workout that they saw in their men’s or women’s health magazine. For most gym goers who identify with this experience, performance training is considered more of a chore or a due diligence requirement than it is a time to go about achieving goals, preparing for competition or developing one’s athletic qualities. Fortunately, at NAKOA, these are not the kind of people we interact with.

I find myself coaching some of the hardest working and most motivated people I have ever met. People’s work ethic and attention to detail show up not only at NAKOA but in all areas of their lives. Our amateur and professional athletes, our private and group class members and the kids who are involved in our athletic development programs are second to none. Not only do I see them continuously give 100%, I see them embrace and enjoy the challenges that are presented to them. For me, it is an awesome feeling when you come to work and you leave feeling inspired.

Community is one of the first things that come to mind when I think of the people who train at NAKOA. Those involved in private coaching and group classes support one another, motivate one another and share a love of being active. That sense of community and culture doesn’t stop inside our walls. Over the years we have all spent a lot of time together outside of the facility. We have transcended the relationships of coach and client to become friends. Barbecues, birthday parties, and weddings have become some of the venues where we congregate. Golf tournaments, beach volleyball, and surfing are activities outside of the club that we enjoy together. It is all part of the NAKOA culture that each one of us, from staff to client, has played a part in building.

On behalf of the coaches and the rest of the staff at NAKOA, I would like to thank all of our clients. We appreciate you. You continue to impress us with your determination, work ethic and strength of character. Without you, there would not be a NAKOA, let alone a NAKOA family. All of you have impacted my life and the lives of the other coaches in a positive way. Your continued dedication and progress is fuel for our desire to coach and assist the community around us in achieving their goals. It is my goal to continue to teach and learn from all of you.

Every member of the NAKOA family has made their own unique contribution to our community. That being said there are a few people I would like to recognize specifically. Jessica Serocke and Michelle Penny, I have watched you both kick ass in our performance classes for years. You are dedicated and consistent. Chip Martoccia and Milo Maresala, you guys embody what it is to be NAKOA warriors. My man Jared Horak, you bust your ass for the Los Angeles Fire Department and on your off days you dominate at NAKOA. Jesse Schuveiller, I remember working with you years ago after your back surgery. I was always impressed with how hard you worked. It is great to see you come in every morning at 6 am and make it look easy. Dennis Enarson, helping you prepare for X Games and then watching you take the gold medal will always be one of the highlights of my coaching career. You are not only a BMX legend but also a stand-up guy. Travis Clark, you have been with us since the beginning. The progress that I have watched you make in the business world and as an athlete has been incredible. You have truly become a force to be reckoned with. Ryan Sheckler, where do I start? You have overcome injury after injury only to come back and perform better than before. What you do for the sport of skateboarding along with the great things that you do with the Sheckler Foundation is an inspiration to us all.

Zach Johnson, you are one of my best friends and one of the strongest people I know. You beat cancer and overcame two separate back surgeries. You cannot be stopped. You do a phenomenal job as the head coach of the UCSD men’s crew team and still, find time to get after it with me four times a week. Much respect brother. Last but certainly not least, I would like to thank Gwendolyn Sontheim. You are one of the most generous and amazing people I have ever met. You have played a huge part in the success of NAKOA and have been an ambassador for us since the beginning. The love and support that you show the people around you and the work you do with Feeding San Diego are incredible. It has been a privilege to work with you and watch you develop as an athlete and as a competitor in the equestrian community.

I can speak for all the staff at NAKOA, all of you have impacted our lives just as much as we have impacted yours. Your continued perseverance and dedication to never ending growth and improvement is constant fuel to our fire. One of my favorite saying to remember is “When one teaches, two learn.” Thank you all again for the inspiration!