This past weekend I traveled with two of my athletes to St. Joseph, Missouri for the 2013 Weightlifting Youth Nationals. My two athletes were Dylan Joyner and Hayden Dupont. I rode with the Joyner family for the entire 15 hour trip, and most people have told me that riding that far would be out of the question. I guess that I am just a big kid because I loved seeing Nashville, the Arch in St. Louis, and coming back we saw Louisville, KY. St. Joseph is rich in weightlifting history because the famous Wesley Weightlifting Club is stationed there, and it is the home of several Olympians including my first coach Wes Barnett. I didn’t get a chance to see him, but I did see my old friend Pete Kelly, 1996 Olympian. St. Joseph is also the home of famous outlaw Jesse James. Traveling is such a great way to truly learn about history and our beloved country. Reading fact in a book is necessary, but experiencing what you have read is a whole new level of cool.
Traveling and competing together as a team is one of the most rewarding thing that I do as a coach. We arrived in St. Joseph on Thursday evening, and after a short rest I met the athletes and their families in the lobby for dinner. Afterwards we all met for a short hot tub and a dip in the pool. The camaraderie is always so rewarding. There is something to be said for sharing a long training cycle, traveling, and then anxiety of a big meet that will simply form a bond that can never be broken, and the families of the athletes are in the exact same boat because they have been there with their children through it all. We have all experienced the road to the Nationals! We have lived through great days, bad days, frustration, and the aha moments when light bulbs go off in the athletes brain. Now at the Nationals we are all in it together! Win, lose, bomb-out, or great day we are doing it together!
Hayden was up first on Friday. Hayden has been training with me the longest of my weightlifters minus a slight hiatus. At times he has the best technique of my whole squad, but he is still only 14 years old, so he is still figuring things out. The National Championships in weightlifting is a scary thing. When you are on the platform, everyone is eyes on you. You normally have three grumpy old judges staring at you, and it would appear that they are praying you miss. It is an intimidating place. Hayden went 3 for 6 on the day, and he set meet PRs in the Clean & Jerks and total. I see that as a win! He didn’t hit what he wanted, but no one ever does in their first Nationals. Hayden was back at it on Monday in preparation for his next meet. I believe that with a steady year of training the podium will be there next year.
Dylan was next on Saturday. At first he was walking around the warm up room like he had seen a ghost. I simply put my arm around him, and told him to chill out. The key to a big meet is just have fun. Remind yourself that you are simply doing what you love with a lot of people that love it too! That is it man! Dylan gathered himself, and he went on to rock the house. He went 5 for 6, and he PRed in the Snatch, Clean & Jerk, and the Total. That is all I can ask of my athlete. He moved up 5 spots from his placing last year in the Nationals, so the only acceptable outcome for next year is a podium performance.
The trip was a great time, and for me it was a time of reflection. 30 total hours on the road allowed me to read, dream, and plan. I am blessed to be a part of so many great things at MashElite! I train Division I Athletes of all sports, I have a great weightlifting team, I have a great powerlifting team, I have a new Crossfit Program, and I have athletes of all ages that I get to help reach goals. Whether it is an athlete receiving a scholarship, a lifter setting a PR, or a soccer mom doing her first pull-up at 40 years old, I get to share in the win. The cool thing is that anyone who is a part of the team gets to share in each other’s win, so we are all winning all the time.
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