After eight years of working as a strength and conditioning coach at Harvard-Westlake, Mike Tromello is ready to close the door.
Tromello completed his final day as Strength and Conditioning Coach on Sept. 30. He decided to leave Harvard-Westlake to invest more time in the crossfit gym he owns outside school, called Precision Crossfit. In the past in five years, Precision Crossfit has grown to one of the top 30 leading gyms in the world. The gym has coached over 15 crossfit games athletes and 15 national team athletes, and it sent one national weight lifter to Olympic trials in May.
“Because I was at Harvard-Westlake, I was only in there like three times a week, and because of that it was getting really hard on my athletes and on a lot of my staff because I was pretty much absentee owning a very successful gym,” Tromello said.
“It was between this place or that place and I had to choose,” Tromello said.
Now that he has more time to focus specifically on his gym, Tromello plans to expand his program, even adding a second location. The main focus of his gym is training every day people to be fit, Tromello said. However, because of his previous successes with other athletes, he has gotten the chance to focus on taking athletes to the next level. He hopes to continue to have that opportunity in the future.
Tromello started weightlifting at the age of 15. He played football at Occidental College and upon graduation, played professional football in Sweden. He then returned to Occidental as a graduate assistant football coach. He spent six total years at Occidental, becoming a strength and conditioning coach, before coming to Harvard-Westlake in 2008.
Although he was hired as a football strength coach, Tromello ended up training other sports instead.
When he came to Harvard-Westlake, he knew nothing about aquatics training, Tromello said. He had never seen a water polo game before and knew nothing about the sport. He had to teach himself everything, Tromello said. However, he took over water polo in his second year and has been with them for the seven years since.
“It’s funny because I was a football strength coach, but I haven’t touched football in any way shape or form since my last season at Occidental,” Tromello said. “So I’ve become an aquatics strength coach.”
Tromello said he most enjoyed working with water polo. The program has been very successful, and lifting is a large piece of that, Tromello said
“The culture that Coach Tromello created in and out of the pool for the weight lifting program and the approach that our program created in all facets of fitness was incredible,” Head of Aquatics Brian Flacks said. “When I first started with Mike about six years ago, we struggled getting five or six players in [the weight room], and now we’re up to about 20 or 30 players on a consistent basis in the mornings.”
While he has been at Harvard-Westlake, aside from developing the aquatics program, Tromello has also been building his strength coaching certifications. When he came to Harvard-Westlake, he had two certifications. He now leaves with 17.
One of the most challenging certifications Tromello earned was his certification to become a US National Coach. He had to pass a series of written and practical tests, and also had to coach two athletes to compete at the national level. Tromello has coached three athletes to the national level—Lindsey Valenzuela in 2010 and Katie Crow and Crystal Riggs in 2013. Lindsey Valenzuela worked at Harvard-Westlake as an assistant strength coach briefly in 2008 and 2009.
“It’s a lot,” Tromello said. “So you can take the tests and become a coach, but you are not certified until you have [coached two national athletes].”
Tromello is now working to earn his international coaching certification. He will likely receive it when his first international athlete competes this summer at the Pan American games in Gainsville, Georgia.
While he has been working on building his certifications and his gym, Tromello has stayed at Harvard-Westlake because he liked being able to work at a high level high school sports program where he could build relationships with the students.
“And I think that one thing I’ll take from this place is that the kids here are like any other place,” Tromello said. “The kids I’ve worked with have been incredible. And I think that one of things that I really feel like I’ve done is I’ve built relationships with them.
“He was really dedicated to the team and our success and he was an amazing coach,” Alec Mendelsohn ’17 said. “And we all love him as a coach and a person and he will definitely be missed.”
Tromello also feels like he has grown more as a coach and a person here than any other place he has worked.
“So I came here I was a twenty-something year old ex college strength and conditioning coach with a chip on my shoulder and a massive ego,” Tromello said. And I leave here with two children. I’ve completely changed. I’ve turned into an adult, essentially. And I think that Harvard-Westlake has added to that maturation process into becoming more of a better person, a better man.”
“I’m going to miss HW for sure but I’m ready to close the door as well,” Tromello said.