At nineteen, while playing a pick up game of football I tore my ACL and minacious. January 13, 2008 changed my life. Let me explain. I graduated high school in 2007 where a big part of me wanted to wrestle in college. I had an athletic scholarship to West Virginia University of Technology, and it was a good one.
One day while playing pick up game of football during a play I twisted my knee and experienced a severe amount of pain. I “knew” something terrible happened, and at that moment I sunk. I felt all my confidence, direction, and passion left on that grassy field. After a few visits to the hospital, mri’s, and multiple doctors' opinions it was decided to have knee reconstruction surgery. After surgery, I went to physical therapy for a while. Physical therapy consisted of a lot of stretching, practicing getting up out of chairs, and rowing. Five to six weeks later I stopped going because things were just too easy, I kind of got bored just going somewhere to stretch and do chair sits when I could do that anywhere.
On another note, my wrestling teammate and co-captain Brian Maxwell did go on to that same school to wrestle, so there was an added layer of missed fun and that I let him down.
For about six months I couldn’t play sports and I was miserable. My time should have filled with homework and useful exercise but were instead filled with video games, sneaking alcohol (still lived at home). I’ll admit I did become really really good at Halo3, really good y’all.
After time passed I remember telling myself I am going to come back stronger. And since I always had a passion for fighting I started watching more wrestling videos on youtube and then I started watching Muay Thai. I had a vision that I was going to fight and travel the world, which was inspired by the vidoes I watched.
At 20 years old, a friend and I moved to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with just a few hundred dollars in our pockets and some sandwiches in a cooler. Within a few months I began training at a MMA gym. It took some time before I noticed I started to regain my direction and passion for competing to come back. Two years later I, I went to Thailand for the first time in 2013. I trained with Sinbi Muay Thai Camp and after 2 weeks of training became a sponsored fighter for them.
April 17th, a day before my birthday I fought in my first professional fight. Upon reflection, while laying on the fighters table getting my pre fight massage, I said “oh shit I’m here”.
Phuket, Thailand - 2013
Fast forward to recently and after more living in Thailand, more fights, more coaching I found myself on a powerlifting platform in June 2021 at the 6th Annual Virginia State Open. This was my first powerlifting competition. That day I set USPC’s Virginia State Deadlifting record in my weight class (165lb) with a 502 lb deadlift. I won the competition and finished with a 1,175lb total.
As my journey continues, I am excited about the experiences I am going to have. I am grateful for my traits of preservence fortitude, passion, and stubbornness to push through challenging times. The people I've met and the connections I've made just makes it all worth while.
Phuket Thailand, 2013
Chiang Mai, Thailand 2015
Chiang Saen, Thailand 2018 Loy Krathong Festival
What I didn’t know then…I had no idea how resilient my body and mind are. At the time I thought having knee surgery was the end all be all, and it crushed my hopes and dreams of being an athlete, which is all I wanted to be growing up. I didn’t know about progressive overload and resistance training or the stress adapt recover model and I surely didn’t know about behavior change and self efficacy. I didn’t know about using my resources to the best of my ability, which I still struggle with. And I thought that doctors and physcial therapist knew everything. I didn’t know about the benefits and importance of resistance training. I didn’t know about self-compassion. I didn’t know the difference between assessing and quitting and I didn’t know the differnece between perfection and a job well done.
What I learned…fortitude, humble (like I’m human, and I can get injured) patience (this has taken a while to get to this point). When down in the dumps, you can actually come back stronger than previously known or thought. A state of being isn’t definite, life changes, people change, things change. A river doesn't stop flowing. The negative and positive are close to one another, keep the negative close so I can stay in control of the direction. Simple things work, like old bags, beat up shoes (cue orange asics), simple barbell and chipped weights. Compassion and empathy are like bridges. They help keep connection with hard conversations. Application matters, how I use them matters. The scale isn't your friend or your enemy, it’s simply a tool, and a useful one, like a measuring tape. Don’t ever put all my worth into one thing, it’s too much pressure on me and that one thing (or person) anyhow ie its counter productive. Reflection. Learned how to fight, learned how to make friends with people from different generations, learned how to make friends with those who speak different language than me, learned how to travel, learned how to coach, learned how to order food, read, and speak another language, learned how to lift weight
What I am still learning. I am still learning compassion. No one hurts more than me. A kid finding $50 and immidiatly realizes he can get more toys. Tells his mama with loads excitement and joy, because he values sharing and then his mama has to teach him a hard yet valuable lesson of just because we find something doesn't make it ours, and searching for who it belongs to. That kid in that moment hurts as bad as anyone. I am still learning how to cope with challenges in life that happen unexpecting. I have noticed when I am surprised unpleasantly, like at work, surprises in training (like back tweaks), or with school (more work than anticipated, grades not matching effort) I have a tendency to sink. And at times this makes it hard for me to maintain my equanimity. I am much better at speaking to myself in a self-compassionate manor. I am still learning to pause, and make space for me to break down things. When I do this it creates a space for me to troubleshoot and make the next best move, but its not always easy for me. I’m still learning my world views, and when I have the thought of “that’s just wrong” it’s a reflection of my world views. I’m still learning the power of choice.
USPC Virginia State Powerlifting Open - June, 2021 - Squat 402
I'll be honest, I get 50-100 likes a post, not the stuff that makes an influencer. These posts are parts of my personal journal, what I'm comfortable sharing. I write these because I should have spent more time in the past recording the reasons why I do things - and I did not. I did not spend nearly enough time letting my team in on my thought process - I likely thought it was a waste of time to get those around me to know my thoughts. I want to correct this failure. And honestly, I probably couldn't get myself to write if I thought no one was paying attention. So thank you all for reading because it helps provide me motivation that I want to do something I find useful and should have done in the past.