Growing up, I played my fair share of sports; mostly basketball, but with a little soccer thrown in here and there. I liked playing basketball and I was a coach’s kid, so I was always exposed to the game, but I would rather play with friends or build Legos than practice. As a result, I was decent at basketball, but nothing great.
I continued this all the way up until high school, when it was time to try out for the basketball team. My 8th grade year I started working out a little more in preparation for try-outs, but nothing too much. I remember going into tryouts and knowing that it was going to be close, and knowing that I was going to have to go all out during the drills to have a chance. Fortunately, I was one of the taller kids trying out, so after 2 days, I barely made the team. Regardless, I was stoked!
My freshman year I didn’t play much. I mostly rode the bench and cheered loudly, but I did grow from 6’1” to 6’5”. I started to practice more and work on my game outside of practice and slowly started to get better. The next two years were more of the same: putting in a little extra work outside of practice, playing a little, but mostly riding the bench. One of the few bright spots during this period was finally dunking during my sophomore year.
Enter the spring of junior year of high school. I had just finished my first season of varsity basketball, and while a lot of seniors were graduating, I knew I had a lot of work ahead if I wanted to see any real playing time my senior season. That spring and summer, I wanted it. Just about every day I was playing basketball for at least several hours. I remember that spring we would finish school, go to off-season basketball for an hour until 3 pm, then we would lift or do conditioning. At about 4 pm, I would drive to a 24 Hour fitness, maybe grab some food along the way, and then play pick-up for two or three more hours. After that, I would go home, eat a huge dinner, and then a lot of nights (not every night, because some nights I was too beat up and tired to move) I would go back to the gym around 9 or 9:30 and get shots up until the gym closed at 11.
It wasn’t easy. I pushed myself too hard and didn’t spend enough time icing and stretching so that one day I woke up and my knee hurt so badly I could barely walk, let alone play basketball. I took a day or two off, allowed my knee to heal, and was back at it, albeit I started to ice a bit more.
It wasn’t always fun either. I remember many a Friday night spent at the gym, getting shots up while everyone else was hanging out. It sucked getting home late and knowing that I had to get up early the next morning and I would be tired. It was a choice though; I wanted to get better.
In the end, it paid off. I went from being lucky to just be on the team to finally starting a decent amount of games and actually playing a role for the team and not a bench warmer who cheered for others. I didn’t turn into a Division 1 superstar by any means, but I was able to reach my goal and finally get some solid playing time, and that was what mattered to me.
Unfortunately, I didn’t start lifting weights seriously until after high school basketball. When I started, I was about 6’5”, 180 pounds: a complete shrimp. And when I started lifting, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I had no form and I would lift in a weird order, doing biceps and triceps first, then bench press and pull downs, and from there who knows what. I just went in to the gym without a care in the world and not knowing anything, but I still saw results because I was so small before and such a beginner.
Then it was time for college. From a fitness standpoint, I played a ton of intramural sports and continued to lift. I lifted a lot that year, but my only goal was to get as big as possible, without concern for body fat percentage, functionality, etc. By the end of freshman year, I had achieved my goal and weighed in at 217, but it wasn’t a healthy or athletic weight. I decided I didn’t like weighing that much, so that summer I picked up boxing and played a ton of sports and dropped nearly 25 pounds, down to 193.
The next two years were more of the same, with a lot of weight and dedication fluctuation. During my sophomore and junior year of college, I made the college basketball team, played for a year, quit, got into triathlons, and in April of 2011 I completed my first one.
Finally, it was time for my senior year of college. I decided that I really wanted to focus on athleticism, and so using a combination of different workouts (I will go more into detail on this at a later time), I finally developed into an athlete. I got significantly stronger, could jump higher, and move quicker. It was a ton of hard work though, but so worth it. I now can dunk in basketball games, and not the measly dunks I had before. I can now actually get up and throw down, which makes every second spent suffering in the gym count. Even though I’m not a full time athlete any more, I am the most athletic I have ever been in my life.
The point of all this is to show you that truly, anything is possible. Anyone who knew me in high school knew me as the skinny, pretty unathletic kid. Other than my height, I wasn’t born with a lot of physical gifts. No one would have ever called me a good athlete. As a matter of fact, I was pretty mediocre. I didn’t bring much to the table. But with hard work, I changed that. There was no magic potion, so Michael’s secret stuff, no wish upon a star. It was only countless hours focused on a goal, and ultimately this has resulted in athletic and physical success… If you want it, you can have it. It just matters how bad you want it. If I can do it, you can do it too!