As a high school sophomore I aspired to play on the varsity squad. To play on the “A” team and to be among the best athletes in the school was my goal. I had the work ethic and the quickness but I lacked the size. In addition to the lack of pure muscle mass there was also a lack of confidence. I would often think how could I compete with guys who were stronger and out weighed me by at least 40 lbs. My perspective changed when one day my school sponsored on a lifting clinic for the entire students body that was involved in a sports program.
The gym was packed that Saturday morning with a wide cross section of athletes. From football players to track athletes to volleyball players. They were all there to learn how to lift and to learn how to gain strength for their various sports. At one point in the program the trainers pulled three athletes from the stands to demonstrate how to perform a proper assisted dead lift. The first athlete was a large lineman from the football team. He was one, if not the biggest and strongest athletes in the school. Not only was he a large individual, so was his ego. The second student athlete was one of the fastest and strongest running backs who was also sizable for his age. The third athlete was me.
As the instructor spoke to the audience the big lineman approached me and said “you’re not going to be able to lift any of these weights” and he laughed as he walked away. At that moment something ignited in my soul and I knew I was up for the challenge.
After some warm up exercises and technique training, the instructor began to set up the bat for the first of what would be 3 consecutively heavier dead lifts. The first lift was relatively light at 250 lb. and all three of us where successful in picking it off the ground. The second lift was significantly heavier at 315 lb. I noticed that the other two athletes struggledto successfully lift the weight. I too was able to lift it but wondered if I had a chance at the third weight. The third and final lift had the whole gym cheering us on as the instructor loaded the bar up with 350 lb. I remember looking at all that weight and thinking that looks heavy but wondering if I would be able to even budge the weight. The first to attempt the weight was running back. He tried but could get the weight off the ground. Next came the lineman. He stepped up, struggled and successfully lifted the weight. Everyone cheered. Next I approached the weight, all 150 lb of me when soaking wet. The crowd got louder and louder as the spotter positioned himself next to me and I got ready to make my attempt. I grabbed the bar and lifted the weight. Everyone in the gym went wild. It was an amazing feeling. As I walked off the platform the lineman approached me and offered his hand. I shook it and he said “you surprised me”. I responded saying “me too”.
I went on to play two seasons on the varsity team and was elected captain my senior year.
The experience had a profound affect on who I became. It went well beyond providing me confidence with physical feats. It provided a spring board for many accomplishments in my life. From obtaining an advanced degree to starting a successfully business and having an amazing family. All this because I started to believe in myself so many years ago.