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Nate Palin is the Director of Education for Soldiers to Sidelines, and he was introduced to the military veterans organization by being a closing keynote speaker, sharing his personal story of military experience and coaching background.
According to its website, Soldiers to Sidelines “provides a renewed sense of purpose for veterans, service members, and military spouses to become character-based coaches who serve their communities.” They do this through the power of sports and fitness, and they have a proven track record. Over 1,000 veterans have been trained as coaches, and over 50,000 young people have been positively impacted as a result.
“They help service members transition into a coaching role, and that was what I had done in my life. So, they wanted me to share that journey.”
After another keynote event and webinar, Palin was working with another veterans organization, FItOps, at the time, but he moved on from that organization and joined Soldiers to Sidelines on Veterans Day 2022 in the role he has now. This role fits him because it incorporates three of his greatest attributes, service, fitness and coaching.
“We leverage what military folks inherently bring to the table, and we pair that with coaching capabilities. What we then create is a human asset that supports activity through sports for our nation’s youth.”
Palin brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table in his role thanks to his time as a US Army Ranger and specialist in tactical fitness. Palin is a third generation service member. His paternal grandfather served in World War II as a mechanic. His father was drafted during the Vietnam War, and he was stationed at Fort Irwin as a military police officer. He also had a great uncle that was on the front lines at Normandy during WWII. Even with that kind of background, Palin said that his family was “anti-war” and there weren’t even guns in their house while he was growing up around the woods of upstate New York.
“The Appalachian Trail was literally in my backyard,” he recalled. We were one of those families that lived by ‘make sure you’re home by dinner.’ So, my little brother and I would just hang out in the woods, playing Army.”
Palin described himself as an active kid, playing multiple sports with an emphasis on soccer. Being active and taking part in some form of physical activity was the norm for him. Fast forward to high school, and Palin was preparing to graduate and attend Indiana University. He was considering joining ROTC when he found a copy of the book Black Hawk Down. He also saw a documentary about an Army Ranger, and the combination helped him make a life decision.
“I was fighting doing my homework, and my mom said something to the effect of that if I didn’t do my homework, I wouldn’t get into college. I told her ‘I’m not going to college. I’m going to be an Army Ranger.’”
Palin followed through with the choice and by the end of his summer after graduation, he was in basic training. Following four years of service, Palin moved on to college at Butler University. However, he cut college short after his junior year, and served over three more years in the Army. His military career in total was close to seven and a half years. Throughout different points in his time in service, he was deployed five different times – three times to Afghanistan and Iraq twice. His skill set played a big part in what he had to do while serving his country, but being in top shape was also very vital. Even though he wasn’t exposed to any structured strength and conditioning until he joined the military, fitness is something he didn’t and doesn’t take for granted.
“Fitness was something I always valued.”
He may have been introduced to that structure late, but he took to it like a fish to water. Palin became a personal trainer after his second stint in service, but he wanted to find a way to fill a void that he felt wasn’t getting the attention it needed.
“As soon as I figured out training and coaching was a thing, I wanted to find a way to bring that to special operations.”
Palin relocated to Seattle, Washington to take part in personal training certification classes, and he also started a business called “The Movement Project.” Thanks to being exposed to various forms of coaching, training, and his own experience, he would eventually work with the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) tactical program, where he served as a liaison for the organizations within the tactical coaching bodies, and he even wrote a book on tactical fitness.
When asked about what role fitness plays in his personal life now, he said, “it’s the foundation of everything. It’s the one thing I can fall back on. It’s a common language between myself and others.”
Palin also runs his own business, Any Given Day, and the purpose of this organization is to coach war fighters through training and education. Palin feels that this service is not only vital to those he works with, but it’s his best way to continue making a difference.
“It leans into the bread and butter of my existence,” Palin explained, referencing how he can directly help military professionals. These services may be provided through presentations, workshops, speaking engagements, and web-based educational assets. This business provides another way for him to connect with and coach others, which is another passion of his.
“What I love about coaching is the transferability. I may have left the coaching floor, but I never left coaching,” he shared. He credited Soldiers to Sidelines founder Harrison Bernstein with a quote that stood out to him.
“Coaching is influencing others to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”
The Any Given Day website is in the final stages before launching, but you can learn more about that organization by following Palin on LinkedIn or following @agd_ready on Instagram.