My name is Steve Konopka, I am the head Strength and Athletic conditioning coach and owner of Strength n Honor Training Facility. Strength n Honor Training is a passion of mine to pass the mindset and training philosophy to young driven athletes to achieve the highest levels of success on and off the competitive playing fields. We also are using these methods and philosophies to help every day citizens become healthier, happier and more functional to enjoy an active life!
I developed the Strength n Honor mindset and training philosophy on the field and in the gym. My career in sports had many ups and downs! My mindset and training was what always got me back up. My football career started kind of late as I did not put on my armor until my freshman year of highschool. It was apparent very quickly that I was made for this sport and after a great sophomore year which including varsity playing time I attacked the weight room with a NO WHITE FLAGS attitude. After a summer of clanging and banging in the weight room I was ready for hell week and my Junior season of football. During training camp conditioning I felt a pop in my knee and it locked out. Here is one of those downs I was talking about! I fought thru it but my knee kept locking and the training would have to manipulate it to get it unlocked. After an mri the torn meniscus diagnosis was correct and was getting caught in the bending action of my knee. A couple weeks of therapy didn’t do anything but but waste time and push surgery off. Week 4 of my season I finally received the surgery and was told season was probably over. Well that wasn’t acceptable to me so I started P.T. three times a week and I hit the gym everyday for upper body work. Once I was further along I was adding legs dailey. Four weeks later I was on the field starting and made first team all-conference playing only three games. The weight room is what brought me back up from that valley and got me back on the field!
Senior year I finished with a awesome on field performance but my performance in the classroom wasn’t as spectacular. Division 1-AA offers and letters were coming in but, my effort to bring my grades and scores up was to little too late. Missed opportunities for being a knucklehead in class sent me into a low. So I got focused hit the gym even harder and opportunity arose for me at Central Connecticut State University. A smaller Division 1-AA school but I would be continuing my career. Freshman year I hit the ground running working my way into the starting lineup and finishing the season with All-Conference honors. The next two years were an onslaught in the gym and the field.
Being such a small school there was no real strength coach!? Crazy, I know but it’s true. I learned from anyone and anywhere looking back now it was a lot of trial and error. But my trial and error two years later brought the NFL scouts and media attentions dailey. The sixth game of the season I suffered a devastating high ankle sprain on an illegal block. I was sidelined for the remainder of the season and the blue grey all-star game which would've let me show the scouts I could play with the big boys. Doing well in that game would have solidified my 3-4th round rating for the upcoming draft and possibly upgraded me.
Once again I hit the rehab and the gym. A few months later I found myself not drafted but signed as a priority free agents minutes after the draft. Though my time in the NFL was brief I was there with the best in the world and learning a lot! The experiences and things I learned were tremendous. The main thing was it was a business and two everyone is training like you or even harder. Excuses were not valid anymore if I wanted to be the best because I was not ready to end my career and in my heart I still had something to prove. It was off the gym again! You might be picking up a trend by now no?
After aggressively attacking the weights with my NO WHITE FLAGS mindset for a few months and a bunch of workouts I signed with the New England Sea Wolves of the Arena Football League. A very successful 8 year professional career in the heyday of the Arena Football League came to an abrupt end. One night on the way home from training I was involved in a hit and run accident that left me down a ditch and into a tree. Being only three days away from the start of training camp and in real bad shape from the unconscious jaws of life exit of my vehicle, my season was ruined.
I was subsequently released from my contract and left with no insurance, income or a clue what to do next except... you guessed it hit rehab and the gym. I went after it but being 32 at the time (ancient for a pro-football lineman) and mainly because of the type of injuries I sustained I could not bounce back fully. Getting to 50% was easy after that my body would not respond. I was forced to face the hardest fact I had to face I was done playing football. I had to put the helmet up on the shelf and figure out what was next.
What was supposed to be next was the original Strength n Honor training facility. The lease was signed and equipment was bought but my body could not do the training. I also could not properly coach the young athletes the way I expect them to be coached. This is part of the strength n honor philosophy when you show up to train our trainers are ready to attack and motivate. These were the dark times. LOL.
The layoff snowballed my body and mind into a negative place. No longer was my body being treated like a finely tuned formula 1 race car it was being treated like a 1988 ford escort. (no offense to ford) Bad weight, lack of energy, aches, pains and poor self esteem all kicked in like a 1000 pass rushers coming at me. When you add the stress of mortgages, bills and trying to find a job things were spiraling out of control!
About two years later I was blessed with the birth of my first son! This was the spark I need to get out of my low. One day after watching some college football I took a shower and bam! I looked in the mirror and said who is that? I remember the day like it was yesterday. Don’t get me wrong I was never an Instagram model (it didn’t exist back then) and I couldn't step on stage in a neon yellow banana hammock but my hard work in the gym gave me a good physical presence that I took PRIDE in. (my last training camp at 31 years old I weighed 283 on the dot and was 9.3% body fat by calipers 13% in the body pod so I was in decent shape) I didn’t want my son to say “my dad use to be in shape or he use to workout” I wanted to train with him, I wanted to lead by example about how important being fit and healthy is. This was the kick in the ass I needed to finally get going again.
Once again the gym is where I ended up. This time there wasn't 500lb bars on my back nor was anyone in the gym stopping to watch my teammates assault the hammer strength jammer machine. I wasn’t training for my paycheck or an opponent. Now it was more important my sons were watching!
So this long poor me bio has a point. That the gym and fitness always brought me back from my low points and to what was important to me. That’s how Strength n Honor was developed. No shortcuts, no excuses, no limits and NO WHITE FLAGS! That’s where the passion comes from and that is the passion that we put into every session and every program we make! This passion of hard work, pride and commitment is what we try to develope in all our young athletes to help develop them on the field and in life!
So what did my god given talent and my work ethic in the gym get me? Here’s the break down:
- Sophomore Year- Varsity
- Junior Year- 1st team All-Conference played only 3 games
- Senior Year- 1st team All-Conference 1st team All-State Hartford Courant 1st team All-State New Haven Register
CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY DIV. 1-AA FCS NORTHEAST CONFERENCE
- Freshman Year- Started all but 2 games Top 3 on team in tackles, sacks, TFL,FF
- Sophomore Year- Preseason All-Conference 1ST Team All-Conference Top 3 on team tackles, sacks, TFL, F-Fumbles, F-recoveries, blocked kicks, Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the week 2 times
- Junior Year- Preseason All-Conference, 1ST Team All-Conference, Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the week 3 times, Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the Year (only played 6 games) Led league in sacks, TFL, FF, Blocked Kicks(only played 6 games) Mel Kiper Jr. Top prospect list, Pro-football weekly top 25 defensive tackle.
National Football League (NFL)
- New York Giants - 1999 Priority Free Agent signed 1998 draft
Arena Football League (AFL):
- 2000 New England Seawolves
- 2001 Toronto Phantoms- led team in sacks, TFL, Ford Tough Man of The Game 5 times
- 2002 Toronto Phantoms- Top 5 in the league sacks, TFL, FF ,led team in sacks, TFL, Ford Tough Man of The Game 6 times ADT Defensive Player of The month, Runner up- Arena Football Lineman of The Year
- 2003 Las Vegas Gladiators- Top 3 on team in Sacks, TFL, FF and Blocked kicks
- 2004 Las Vegas Gladiators- Top 3 on team in Sacks, TFL, FF and Blocked kicks
- 2005 Las Vegas Gladiators- Leader on team in Sacks, TFL, FF and Blocked kicks, Las Vegas Gladiators Lineman Of The Year, Captain
- 2006 Las Vegas Gladiators- Leader on team in Sacks, TFL, FF and Blocked kicks, Las Vegas Gladiators Most Valuable Player of The Year, Captain
- 2007 Utah Blaze- Top 3 in sack, TFL, FF, Captain