All throughout my teenage years I would like to consider myself a bit of...well...a hard headed individual to put things lightly. I had a difficult time listening to the opinions of others, and I didn't necessarily like to take directions from authoritative figures. In fact, I despised them for no reason other than I didn't wanted to be told what to do.
Toward the end of my junior year in high school (2010), I made the decision that I wanted to become a crucial part of the football team, and better yet, a Division 1 athlete. I had always been a bigger kid for my age, and up until high school I was always one of the better performers on the field. However, once I got to the age that I actually began to really care about my physical appearance, I began to lose some weight as a way to avoid the "lineman physique"...so my starting point for this journey was a lengthy 185 pounds.
That Christmas I wanted nothing more than my own set of weights. I constantly begged my parents to buy me a used set off the internet so that I could set it up in our small basement to help me bulk up for the upcoming football season.
I constantly looked through the classified ads online and came across a machine that would allow me to do all the basic compound lifts that I wanted within the small space I had available. Unfortunately, being the I had scoured the entire Chicagoland area and beyond looking for this piece of equipment, the closest one being sold was in Ohio. My parents were well aware of that...
As Christmas came closer, my hopes were dwindling for this life changing piece for equipment that I needed to becoming a force to be reckoned with on the field, but just as Christmas was upon us, my Dad told me he was able to convince one of his good friends, who also happened to be a truck driver, to pick up the load on his way back from his time spent on the road carrying shipments. I was so ecstatic when I received the news that I immediately found a man within close proximity that had a set of rusted old weights for sale. I happily took them off his hands.
The primary drawback you can encounter when trying to build a gym in the small bungalow is space. My dad and I decided that it would be our best option to disassemble the piece of equipment piece by piece and then reassemble it back together when all the pieces were brought into the basement. We eventually ran into the issue of having too low of a ceiling, which we had to resolve by cutting one of the ceiling tiles into sections so that we had enough clearance.
Over the course of the next 6 months, I would workout three times a day. I first began with an early morning run, then the mandatory football lifts before school, ate breakfast, went through a typical day of school, worked out, ate dinner, then worked out again. This continued on all the way up until the football summer camp.
During the time before tracking macros was even relevant, I was eating an absurd amount of food on a regular basis. There was rarely a point in the day where I wasn't feeling full. This of course led to an incredibly fast weight gain. By the beginning of summer I weighed in at 220 pounds. I had gained around 30 solid pounds over the course of around 6 months.
As soon as summer began, I knew I had a solid chance to compete for a starting spot on the team. I had grown to the point of being one of the stronger and faster kids on the team. So that being said, summer camp went by fairly easily. I even went as far as carrying a portable gas grill in my junk pick-up truck to grill meats in between practices with my teammates.
I was in the best shape of my life, and as I had hoped, I became a valuable part of the team. As the season went on, I made sure that I sent out every second of game film that I had out to any D-1 school that I could think of. Unfortunately, I didn't get the recruiting that I was looking for.
(Senior Year of High School 2010)
At the end of the season, I was still frequently around my head coach, which also happened to be my teacher for anatomy class.
Going back to where I didn't necessary see eye to eye with authority figures...well, I would say my relationship with him wasn't the greatest. I had no problem sticking to what I thought was right, and I was far from the greatest of listeners. Thinking back, my head coach wasn't a bad guy, it was just the fact that I hated being told what I could and couldn't do. Especially when I knew I wasn't going to get any help from him with being recruited by a D-1 school.
All throughout this time, I dedicated every second I had to becoming a bigger, stronger, and faster version of myself. School was always something that came fairly easily to me. Being that my high school wasn't incredibly strict, it was one less thing I had to worry about. I took the time to apply to every school that I sent my film and was accepted to every one of them.
I would occasionally be called out of class to meet with a Division 2 or 3 coach, and on every occasion I would just be nodding my head, waiting for the meeting to end. It's not that I didn't appreciate their visit, I was just absolutely set on going to a "big" school. I didn't want to settle for the one opportunity I had to be a college athlete.
I finally, got the call in late spring from West Virginia University. Although I was not offered a scholarship, I had been invited to participate in their summer camp as a way of making the team and proving my worth. I was thrilled with the news. I continued to train up until the day I left for the camp.
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