As a little prelude to my upcoming article on Throwers Training like Throwers. I've been thinking about some of the dumb mistakes I've made in the gym, and I'd like to hear what you guys have done. Maybe just to make me feel a little bit better, hahaha. I'll share the best ones.
Hey Forza Faithful, I hope this blog post finds you well. This one might not be as focused as previous posts with a clear intention. ( Ha ha ok let's be serious I have the zen like focus of Squirrel with ADD, but its fun to pretend that these had focus) I've been staring at this empty blog post for the last couple days, it was supposed to be an Arnold recap. I wanted to talk about how well the GLSAA crushed the highland games in front of so many patrons on the biggest platform in strength sports. I wanted to say how amazing it was to throw for that crowd, watch the tidal wave of talent that is Spencer Tyler, and getting the chance to meet Arnold, and it was so incredible. But the screen remained blank, because this week it all seemed very trivial.
By this point most of you know of the passing of this gentle giant. I feel like the term "larger than life" and "hero" get thrown around in our society without any real thought to its meaning. We are prone to hyperbole and lose the meaning to such terms. Gerard Benderoth embodied those terms. A friend, mentor and idol to so many people, and the closest thing this world has ever seen to a real life super hero that showed his true colors during the 9/11 tragedy.We were so fortunate to have him on this earth.
I'm not here to talk about the situation about his death or what he meant to the strength community during his life, there are people far more qualified to have that discussion. What I've been thinking about since his passing is what he meant to me personally as an idol and an inspiration in strength sports. How we don't really appreciate someone until they're gone, but also in this society of social access that we don't really appreciate that we have access to and interaction with the legends of our sports, via face to face, twitter, Facebook, IG etc. Sometimes it's ok to fanboy out and let some these guys and gals know how much we really appreciate them. I want to take a moment and appreciate the people that inspire me to get in the gym, train, and break my body down to create something greater. These are some of the people that I've learned from to become the thrower that I am. I like to think I take a little bit of them with me to create this athlete that I am. After this article I encourage you to do the same, because sometimes we forget that because we have access to them that they aren't Giants among mortals in their sport....but they are.
LOL actual Giant...
Steve Pulcinella.... ( also this article might get a little awkward because I do see some these guys on a regular basis) Anyway... Steve Pulcinella is living legend and has transcended strength sports into the pop art of our time the internet meme. There were so many Do You Even Lift Bro memes. If you're one of 8 or 9 people reading this you probably have your favorite one.
Steve... Pro Power Lifter, Pro Strongman, Pro Highland Games athlete, and one of the OG EliteFTS guys. Incredible strength athlete and great gym owner and trainer which is shown by the small army of world class athletes that come out of Iron Sport Gym. I got to meet Steve a couple years ago at a Highland Games outside of Philly, and it took everything I could not to totally nerd out in front of him. (Dom Gonzalez did totally nerd out, like one of those fainting girls from the Beatles concerts, lol sorry bro) Steve is just one of those guys that embodies the mindset of the Old School F U lifter. If you ever get the chance to meet the guy, you'll get it immediately.
...Quick aside...Before I get totally up his junk... Steve is huge A**Hole, but I've learned a lot from the guy, and we all love him for it.
Now that I'm going to be dodging a Thunderpunch to the old wedding tackle from Pulcinella, let's talk about Matt Vincent while I search Amazon for cups...
We've all seen him at this point. He's the Allen Iverson of the Scottish Highland Games. The tattoo life, so incredibly talented, willing to give all the videos for training, the Q & A's and you can't go to a highland games anywhere in this country and not see someone rocking a HVIII Brand Goods product. Matty V is the face of the Scottish Highland Games. He's got the swagger, he's got the skill, and now he has the brand name that is starting to transcend out of the highland games into other sports... and soon it wouldnt shock me to see HVIII brand goods as line of products that makes it into the main stream. I think we could do way worse for a figure head.
I've had the chance to have several conversations with the dude, and I find it always helps bring me back to center. He is so accessible and is really good about spreading the knowledge.
But if you've never met him you don't realize how small he really is, and that makes him all the more amazing for what he's accomplished. Now let's be real, by normal person standards, he's a huge dude, but by Highland Games Pro standards... let's just say you wouldn't bet on him to win if we were just looking at body size. But He Does!!! and like all the time!!! The guy is so driven, so technically sound, and has the explosion of small warhead and he beats great throwers that he gives 6 inches and 50 plus pounds to.
The "downside" of him being so accessible is I don't think people really appreciate how dominant and good he is for the Highland Games as a sport. I don't lose appreciation for the amount of stuff he has helped me as a thrower and as a person.
two dudes on the right (the corning guys)... Came to one of my clinics last year, having never stepped on the field before,
head to toe HVIII Brand Goods clothes at their first games ever... I roasted these dudes all...damn...day...
And now they train with me on the regular lol.
Not as well known outside of the Highland Games, but in the sport itself the man is legendary. The guy has cleared 18ft in the weight over bar, more time than there are guys that have cleared 18ft. Incredible Caber thrower and has has world class numbers in all of the other throws. Not to mention, that he is rolling into his 20th year of doing this kilted nonsense that we all love. I don't think we have a lifetime achievement honor, but the guy deserves one. But all that isn't really why he finds himself in this article. Mike is the best Highland Games professional I have ever met. I don't mean that as the best thrower, but the most professional. The way he works a crowd is amazing, the little traditions that get the blood pumping he's got them nailed #LightUpTheQuads He has a ton of respect for the traditions of the highland games, never forgetting that this a cultural event as well as a sporting event. The professionalism and showmanship he brings to the games is matched by none in this sport, in my eyes.
Also this always blows my mind every game i've had a chance to throw with Mike... Women swoon over this dude more than any guy I've ever met. It should be LL Cool Z...Ladies Love Cool Zolkiewicz. A lot of times I like watching the women in the crowd when he's throwing WOB more than him throwing, blows my mind!!!
Also he is happily engaged to a smoking hot woman...so back off sluts....lol. Check below he is heavily featured in the Rogue video about the highland games from the Arnold 2017. Quick note. Rogue was the most amazing sponsors of a games I've ever seen. They are the truth. Buy all of their stuff forever. #RogueFitness
This last person of note for me that use as inspiration has more street cred than any highland games athlete that has walked this earth. Multiple World Championships, Multiple All Americans, collegiate and world records, and if it wasn't for the worst luck in the history of ever, would have represented the United States in the Olympics.
Sorry Jeff Kaste it wasn't you...but i do love you lol
In my humble-ish opinion Adriane Wilson is the most and should be the most respected person in the Highland Games. You have never met a person in this sport that has a bad thing to say about her, and if you do you have my permission to kick them in the shin.
She has so many accolades, I could go forever on them. That's not why I'm writing about her now. From my point of view, without Adriane, there is no real Women's class in the Highland Games. She is the trailblazer of that class. She has laid the groundwork for all these current ladies to come out and drop bombs in this sport. Seriously the crowd for the women at the Arnold might have been the biggest crowd of the classes.
I don't mean to discredit some of the other long standing ladies in the sport, but she is the Jordan of that class. She is still the top of the women's class and has been for a long time ( it's amazing all those records and championships and she's still 29!) I have never met someone that just crushes her field and is also the sweetest person I've ever met in the games. She acts like she's going to give you a hug and a slice of pie at any point in time.
( Seriously though Adriane... I want a slice of pie...something apple-ly)
She is proof that you don't have to be mean mugging and intimidating to the other athletes to be great. The world would be a far better place if we took a few pages out of her book.
( I was gonna say "if we all had a little Adriane in us" but that sounded dirty, and I don't need Joe Wilson teaming up with Steve Pulcinella to ThunderPunch me in the d**k as well...lol)
There is so much negativity in this world, if you get a chance to tell the people you look up to that you appreciate them, DO IT. I could have gone with dozens of athletes from other sports, but when I talk about this subject it's usually these 4 that come to mind every time.
I bragged about knowing Gerard and used him as an example of raw power so many times, I just wish I could have told him that. My lasting impression of Gerard that just really summed him up to me. I was lucky enough to announce WOB for him at Hunter Mountain Celtic last year. He threw that 42 like most people throw footballs man, just nothing to him. I got to be the hype man for him for a little bit, and it was awesome. After it was done he came over shook my hand and gave me a hug ( where in my mind i'm saying please don't squeeze i'll die). Even at that point in his career he was still so humble and grateful that I got the crowd going for him. That will always be my impression of the man, his humility even with all his accomplishments. Real Life Super Hero. Rest easy G
Take the the time to talk the people you look up to, buy them a beer, shake their hand, let them know you appreciate them. It goes a long ways to the right people. Thanks for reading, more jokes next time I promise. As always follow me @MattHandThrows on Instagram and Twitter, and comment below and share.
As I spent an hour and a half looking for my a specific shirt for the Arnold Sports Festival this weekend, and I have dryer full of games shirts, stupidly bright Under Armour compression shorts, and my "Kick Today in the Dick" socks... #HVIIBRANDGOODS I've had a lot of time to think about what it really means to compete at event like the Arnold. I've been doing this sport for 12 years, and in reality this impromptu competition will be this biggest venue myself or most of these throwers will ever be part of.
There a lot of Highland Games that have a lot more prestige and history, but the pure number of the people that attend the Arnold over the weekend is staggering. Represented by dozens and dozens of countries competing in all these different sports as well as just the waves of patrons, this is closest that most of us will ever get to being in an Olympic Experience. Which brings me to the point of this article....
YOU ARE NOT AN ATHLETE!
At least not first and foremost. The first thing you are is a representative of the festival that is providing the space to compete. You are a salesman and the product you are trying to sell.
(Quick side note, sometimes when I'm competing and my nerves are a little tight, when I'm in the trig I'll whisper to myself "There is no spoon"... I feel half of you thinking that's funny, and the other half yelling NERRRRDDDD!!!)
A couple things that specifically highland games athletes need to realize, and when you do, it's going to help you get into more games. The only reason we are able to throw at a lot of these festivals, is because we are entertainment for the people that are paying to attend the festival. And we are able to come back when the festival is profitable. If the festival is in the red, they are going to start cutting certain things in their budget, and POOF! no more highland games at that festival.
The insurance to have a competition is often the biggest expense for a lot of these festivals depending on their situation. From a business stand point, we as throwers need to justify that expense by putting on a great performance for the paying customers. Many of us hate Caber, or phone in the effort, because once you've flipped a 12:00 on NASGA you're done for the year, you can't score any more points in that event. Here is the thing though, like it or not, it is the crowd favorite and most recognizable event in our sport.
" Oh is that thing where you throw telephones or something?"
When the festival organizers see the entire athletic field surrounded completely and several people deep on all sides because we are putting on a bomb ass caber show...guess what... you just justified that money and the athletes are coming back for years to come.
Sorry that was a lot of actual serious talk.... here's some cute shit...
So what does all this mean for you as an athlete, how does that info and mindset help you? It is a factor that is going to help you get into more games. There aren't that many games during the year that the invites are based only on performance. For the most part those are only your top level games, all the rest of them throwing far is just part of it.
Talk to all the athletic directors that you know for the highland games, they all have turned down a request or not sent an invite to someone because the athlete in question was a D**khead. This is where athletes coming in from other sports sometimes have a problem initially. The power dynamic between AD and Athlete... is almost 100% in favor of the AD. Athletic Directors do not owe you an invite, or Trophies, gift bags, or special little medals that say you were there. The only thing the AD owes you is safe conditions, legal equipment, and measuring your throws. As an athlete you need to justify your presence on the field every time you walk onto it. That means, throwing to the best of your ability, following the rules of the field/association, being nice to or talking to the patrons. This part is simple but eludes some people.
Alright let's bring this home!!!
For those of you that don't know, The GLSAA was able to get us a spot at the Arnold very last minute. And like the studs that they are, within a couple weeks they were able to put a championship caliber field of Men's A, Masters, and Female athletes, and a crazy deep wait list to go with it. Props to them for getting this put together on the shortest notice possible and making it awesome.
The 30 or so of us that will be competing this weekend need to take this to heart, that we aren't just athletes
or representatives of the Arnold Sports Festival, but this time we are representing the Highland Games as a sport to all the other Strength Sports and fans attending this colossus of an event. When you think about it like that compared to the level of athletes that are representing their sports at this, one its a huge honor, but two this is our
opportunity to justify having a permanent place at the premier strength festival in the world. This isn't a
competition, its a two day sales pitch to the planning board of the Arnold. We have a chance to make this a permanent staple and grow our sport in both numbers and recognition.
Do yourself and myself and himself and herself all a favor. Think about this the next time you step on a field. Are you justifying your presence and are you helping the festival by giving the paying patrons their money's worth?
Thanks for reading #ForzaFaithful, as always please comment and share. As well as follow me on the Tweets and the Grams @MattHandThrows... AND COME SEE ME i'll be hall A in the convention center pretty much all of Friday and Saturday, and I'll be posting where I am through out the weekend. Get a Selfie with me and use the hashtag #ForzaAthletics and be entered to win a sweet forza shirt... They're nice too its like being hugged by that panda. Check out the shirt below. LOOK OUT COLUMBUS.
Former Track and Field athlete and coach turned Highland Games Athlete. Follow along for advice mostly through trial and error, and maybe a few laughs along the way. My mom says i'm funny and handsome, and obviously she's right. LOL