Ellen's Blog

Thanks, Dad

If you’ve read my book or ever taken one of my classes, you probably know my dad, Arthur Calandrelli, was – and still is – the wind beneath my wings.

An outstanding football player in high school, he turned down an offer to play professional football for a full football scholarship so he could get a college degree. After college, he became a phys ed teacher and then a coach, all the time inspiring a love of sports in young athletes, neighbors and friends – no one more than me.

My father always went beyond; he built his players up, and he built me up, too. I learned so much from the sidelines watching him coach his team at practices and at games.

When I graduated from high school, Dad encouraged me to follow my dream of becoming a phys ed teacher like him, even though I was worried that I might not find a job after college.

“Don’t worry about that,” he said. “Whenever you do something you’re passionate about, you’ll always find work. And you’ll always be great at it.”

Looking back, it was that conversation – and his faith in me – that marked the start of my fitness career.

My dad’s been gone for 12 years now, but his lessons stuck. In the spirit of Father’s Day, I thought I’d share three of the most important things I learned from Arthur Calandrelli.

  1. In life, momentum shift up. Sports psychologists often talk about momentum shifts – changes in an athlete’s performance that come when the athlete changes the way he or she thinks and feels. In life, you can momentum shift up or you can momentum shift down. My father was a master at helping his players momentum shift up – focusing on what they had, not what they didn’t have. That’s how he lived his whole life. Even when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Dad still focused on what he had, not what was being taken away from him.
  2. If you want to accomplish something, first eliminate distractions, then create a timeline. It takes relentless focus to be successful. That means getting rid of distractions in your life and clearing your mind. It means giving yourself a date – one shot to get it done.
  3. Believe in yourself. No matter what dialogue you have going on in your head, never lose sight of your potential, and never, ever give up.

Thank you, Dad; you made it possible for me to live a legacy. And to all the fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day.

Talk Soon,


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