I remember the trip vividly for many reasons. I left my left arm out of the window the whole drive leaving me with a nasty sunburn. I ate a massive meatball sub after weighing in promptly throwing it up after my third clean and jerk. Dad dropped me off in Panama City Beach, Florida for Spring Break with my fraternity brothers. And I forgot a pair of longer black socks and had to borrow my dad’s Champion ones.
Ever since that underwhelming yet impressionable first championship, I have found myself on a National Championship stage as a competitor. Each time, slowly but surely, inching my way up the final rankings. Every now and then sneaking away with some medals.
It has been my distinct badge of honor to wear both hats as coach and athlete and be one of the few to do so. This year I think life has finally caught up to me. God has blessed me with a wife FAR BETTER than I deserve, a wild three-year-old little girl who is far too much like her dad, and most recently a 6-week-old newborn.
Weightlifting is a funny sport. You may actually only lift a barbell a total of 10 minutes in a training session. However, the body preparation, necessary rest and recovery between sets, and the ultimate length of a training session can last 3+ hours. I asked my very first coach, mentor, and now one of my best friends Stan Luttrell when he knew it was time to leave competition behind. He didn’t give me a straight answer, but in no specific words it seemed like life would eventually give him that indication. I sat on his couch hoping I wasn’t there yet.
This weekend I have the honor and privilege to lead our athletes as they take the platform and experience the same high and lows that makes this sport so addicting.