Student Spotlight Series: Kevin Levi-Goerlich
Last weekend I had the pleasure of talking to Kevin while he drove three hours to coach and cheer on some of his athletes. Within the first minute, I knew that he is a #DPTstudent that people need to hear about. In this post, Kevin provides valuable insight to SPTs and SPTAs on how he used networking to grow his business, how he manages his time so effectively, how he found his "why" and how you can find yours. Keep it up Kevin! We are excited for what you are bringing to our profession and the state of Maryland!
How’d you get into coaching?
After running all through high school, I graduated in 2011 and immediately jumped into the collegiate triathlon scene. In the summer of 2014, I got my first coaching position as a volunteer coach for the Mini Cow Tri youth and juniors triathlon club. I absolutely loved it and when the team offered me an assistant coach position the next year, I jumped at the opportunity. I received my USA Triathlon Level I Coaching certification in 2015 and later that year I started my business, FTY Endurance. Since then I expanded my business to coaching age group triathletes, volunteer coaching the Maryland Triathlon Team at the University of Maryland, and working as an associate coach for the MC Elite/Mini Cow Tri. Since 2015 I have been helping athletes achieve personal bests, age-group wins, and World Championship qualifications.
What were the steps that you had to go through to get FTY Endurance started? How did you reach out to prospective athletes?
It was a natural progression from athlete to coach. Having raced for four years for the University of Maryland Club Triathlon team, I was fortunate to have incredible mentors who laid a foundation for my triathlon knowledge. I built upon this foundation by racing a lot and gaining experience on what worked and what did not. During my term as president of the team, I was responsible for leading athletes of all abilities; from first timers to seasoned Ironman veterans. From this, I realized how much I enjoyed facilitating others to get the most out of themselves, regardless if it was completing their first race or chasing an elusive personal best.
When I first started coaching, I didn’t have a website. In fact, I didn’t launch a professional website for my company until early in 2017. I didn’t advertise, other than listing my contact information on several triathlon websites. I essentially generated all of my business by referrals and word of mouth. Every interaction, at races, group rides, swim practices, or pretty much anytime around endurance athletes, was an opportunity to advocate for myself and for my business.
How do you balance having your own company, coaching on two triathlon teams, as well as being a second year DPT student?
It comes down to effective time management, figuring out a way to prioritize tasks, and being as efficient as possible. I’ve tried to streamline my operation by being organized. It took me a long time to figure out and is constantly evolving. I rely heavily upon Google Calendar for planning out my days, weeks, months, and semesters and Google drive to track my athletes. Being able to access all of my coaching material on any device via cloud storage allows me to turn a 5 minute break into a productive session.
I also make the goal of being 100% present for whatever I am doing. For example; If I am training, I’m focused on my workout and not thinking about studying I need to do. If I’m coaching an athlete, I am focused on them-not the presentation I’ll be giving the next day. If I’m in school, I’m focused on class and not checking my phone or playing around on Facebook. I’m definitely not perfect, but even attempting to do this has made me more effective.
This may seem odd, but turning off push notifications on my phone (other than email) has been hugely effective in reducing the amount of time wasted by being distracted on social media. The lack of a constant reminder to go check out a facebook post, tweet, or snapchat allows me to focus on the task at hand and finish it before scrolling through my phone when I need a break.
What advice do you have for other student physical therapists and student physical therapist assistants that might be thinking of starting their own business while in school?
Look into how to run a business before you start your own business!
I had zero experience with business before I started mine. I didn’t have a business plan or really any plan other than trying to make athletes go faster. Predictably, I made a lot of mistakes. But the important thing is to not let setbacks or errors deter you from what you’re doing. They are usually fixable if you’re willing to put in the work. It’s also important to realize that you need to do the less fun “administrative” tasks in order to keep the cogs in the business wheel spinning smoothly.
Ask questions! You’ll never know who can help you.
One of my professors surprisingly ran her own Cash-based PT clinic before she started teaching. Once she found out about my business, we talked logistics, and with a couple modifications managed to cut my overhead costs for my website in half. I discovered that one of my classmates had experience with photoshop and website design. She was able to create a logo and clean up my website in 2 hours, saving me a week’s worth of work.
Figure out your “why?”
Everyone has a reason for why they are in PT/PTA School. For many it is because they want to help their fellow man. For others, it’s a job. Everyone’s reason is different and that’s okay. My “why” for PT, is that human movement is the coolest freaking thing ever. Seriously. When I graduate, I’ll get paid to make people move better. I think that’s pretty awesome.
If you’re going to start a business (or really do anything for that matter) figure out why. And I mean a real reason. Not a “it seemed like a good idea at the time” reason. A reason that is important enough to keep you up late at night and up early the next morning. A reason that will keep you working even when you’re exhausted and motivation is at an all time low.
So, what’s my “why” for coaching?
My “why” goes back to the reason I love endurance sports. Simply, you get out of it what you put in. Hard work equals progress and progress equals self improvement. That simple equation drives me to get the most out of myself and each athlete I have the privilege of working with.
If you want to contact Kevin or see what he is up to, you can find him at: