a box with a pair of collars in it. I thought, “Cool, I got a new Olympic bar.” But then I saw a note on the inside of the box. The note said, “Merry Christmas! Your new bench is in the shed.” The note explained that theequipment was very expensive, and I would have to pay for a portion of it whenever I could.I don’t really remember how much I paid, but I do remember not caring anyway because it was worth it. To me,this was the best damn Christmas present in the world—
a new bench
Olympic weight set
, and a bunch of attachments. I know it’s kind of gay, but I couldn’t even fight back the tears. I reallywanted that bench, and I knew it wasn’t easy for my parents to afford. I definitely worked out that Christmasday and started a tradition of getting equipment every birthday and Christmas.Training was going on at a very steady rate. During school, I lifted as much as possible during football andtrack, but I could never wait for summer—three months of solid training. Sometimes I trained three or four times a day. Eat, train, sleep, eat, train, sleep, and so on. I loved every minute of it. I remember eventuallygetting lectures from my dad because I wouldn’t miss a workout for anything. One time he got tickets to aCardinals baseball game, and I didn’t want to go because I didn’t work out yet that day. That says a lot becauseI loved going to the games.My dad thought I might be getting too wrapped up in lifting and that there was more to life. I never reallylistened to that lecture! I also still have many fond memories of getting squished under a heavy squat, havingto yell to my mom to help get me out from under a bar, or rolling a missed bench down my belly so I could getup. Ah yeah…good times.
Unsuccessful at Sports
As for sports, I usually finished near the back of the pack in my freshman year. This didn’t sit well with me andwas great motivation to improve. I wound up becoming pretty good on a local level by my senior year. I still takegreat pride in the fact that I finally dominated all the people who beat me during my earlier years. I won myconference, districts, and sectional meets in the shot put. I also did ok in football, but quit during my senior year. I had a conflict with the whole “team” philosophy. I wanted everyone else to want to win as bad as I did. Ididn’t do any weightlifting competitions, but could bench around 350, squat over 500, and deadlift over 500pounds.I was offered some partial scholarships to throw the shot put back in Missouri, but I wanted to move out toNevada and throw at UNR. This meant I had to work almost full-time, go to school full-time, and train to throw.My days were very crazy, and it was difficult to keep my head above water. My freshman year pretty muchsucked and so did my throwing. By my sophomore year, the problem I had in my lower legs since high schoolbecame unbearable. I finally found a doctor who diagnosed the problem as chronic compartment syndrome. Mychoices were basically surgery, quit throwing, or keep at the same pace and take the chance of eventuallylosing my legs. Easy answer for me—schedule the surgery.
Unfortunately the surgery didn’t work, and I was forced toquit throwing. This was not a very good time for me. Basically,I floundered around for seven years or so. I would workoutfor awhile, take some time off, and so forth. I always thoughtabout trying powerlifting, but I was one of those guys whothought I should get so strong before I ever competed, and Ididn’t really see too much information about it.Then, my little journey took a very good turn while I was livingin a small town in rural Nevada. Two friends of mine (Raul