Busta’s Person of the Week: Understanding your bottom line is the key to your success

Busta’s Person of the Week: Understanding your bottom line is the key to your success
November 11
14:38 2020

By Busta Brown

Coach Derrick Speas’ motto is clear and plain: “What’s your bottom line, and then pursue it,” he said with a big, confident smile. In 2018, Derrick worked as a high-performance coach for China’s short track Olympic speedskating team in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. During his coaching tenure, the team won a gold medal in the men’s 500 meter, setting a new Olympic record and world record, and two silver medals in the women’s 1500 meter and Men’s 5000 meter relay. The team also won 12 gold medals during the International Skating Union World Cup Championships.

I asked Speas about his time in South Korea. “I loved it! The people treated me with great respect. But a Chinese official said something to me that will always stay in my head. He told me that he respects America’s Black men ‘because you’re oppressed in schools and on the job. You’re the only species on earth that have to be perfect every day in order to be accepted and successful. And for you to be in front of me and coaching our athletics, you had to be perfect to be here.’ That blew me away,” he said while shaking his head in disbelief. 

I asked Speas what separates him from other coaches. “Results at every level. One thing I’ve learned from overseas in the martial arts realm is that no trainer or style is wrong. It’s what influences that person. What influences me is speed around the world, not American football, because it’s only an American sport. I’ve been influenced by world speed! Speed skating, ice skating, cycling, etc. Football and basketball are the toughest sports in the world, and our community is playing both, yet overlooking Olympic sports and X-Games, which pays very well,” said Derrick. 

Coach Speas is currently training U.S. National speedskater Kimani Griffin for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Beijing, China. Griffin is a current member of the U.S. National speedskating team and previously competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in the Men’s 500 meter. 

Speas is also Anthony Levine’s personal trainer. Levine is a two-time Super Bowl champion and presently in his 11th season in the NFL. Both men are Winston-Salem natives and attended R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston Salem. 

What’s Speas’ secret? “It’s never about me. I always make sure everything I do is all about the athlete and I never come up short. I knew I couldn’t break the rim, so to speak. So, I decided to bring the league to me by creating athletes that sports teams wanted to invest in,” said Derrick. 

As a high school track coach and trainer, Speas’ vision was always to inspire and enhance the athletic potential and excellent character in his youth. And Speas gets results. He met 11-year NFL veteran Anthony Levine when he was a freshman at Reynolds High school. “I was his coach throughout high school. He went to Tennessee State University in Nashville and during his senior year, he would drive six hours every Thursday to train with me, to prepare for his NFL Combine day. He believed in me enough to drive those six hours every weekend. One weekend we Googled his name and there was nothing. I told him if he continues working with me, his name will soon be all over the Internet. Because I knew what was at stake, I knew contracts were on the line, so it was time to perform every day, because in professional sports, there’s no tomorrow. I invest in my athletes, both professionally and personally. I’m like an overseer in their lives, and then I push to go beyond their best,” he said with pride. 

As I mentioned earlier, Anthony Levine went on to win two Super Bowls, with the Green Bay Packers in 2011 and the Baltimore Ravens in 2013. Coach Speas has taken his business to the next level. He’s now the owner and founder of Speed Dreams, a high-performance elite training group located in Winston-Salem. Speed Dreams focuses on developing local athletes and preparing them for elite competition and future Olympic development. 

Derrick’s own personal journey began as a child, running around his neighborhood on Thurmond St. in Winston-Salem. “When you don’t have a mother or father, you spend a lot of time alone. Fortunately my grandmother taught me that the Lord is not going to leave you without any talent at all. I found my talent in running, because it was the best way for me to get out my frustrations of not having a mother or father. As I got faster, I would hear the wind blow or a train in my ear. As a result, my speed increased daily. I realized it was due to me trying to run away from my problems,” said Coach Speas. 

He eventually became an unstoppable track star, until a few bad decisions stopped him dead in his tracks. He turned that pain into passion and decided his future and strength would be in coaching. Derrick knew his bottom line at a very early age. “As a young Black male, it’s best to have a plan before you’re 18, because after 18, the plans for most young Black males put them in harm’s way. I was one of those young men. But I credit my grandmother for keeping me grounded. I don’t know where I’d be if it wasn’t for her being a God-fearing and praying woman. It became evident that her prayers reached the heavens, because doors began to open that only God could.”

Retired Principal Richard Watts and Stan Elrod saw something special in Speas and gave him the opportunity to coach. He went on to have an extremely successful coaching career. His resume is very impressive. He became head track coach at Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy from 2007 to 2014 for men and women. The results are two state championships in 2008-2009, four regional championships between 2008 and 2014, five 4×100 meter relay state champions in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, high jump state champion in 2010, men’s state championship in basketball in 2008 ,,, and the list goes on. He’s currently finalizing his bachelor in sports science degree, majoring in sports strength and conditioning. 

In 2019 Speas was inducted into the Winston-Salem Sports Hall of Fame. Coach Derrick Speas is a phenomenal man with a heart of gold and I’m honored to have him as my Person of the Week.

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