A Goal Achieved
It’s 7:38 pm Saturday, February 24th. We’ve been at a meet all day where the lil hawt tamale, Melissa or Missy totaled Pro/Elite . Yay, yes, I know. It is a big deal. She’s resting now in our bedroom next to my office, watching basketball. She’s a fan, especially of Duke and I chuckle quite often as she is one of those that yells at the refs and players while she watches. It is indeed, quite entertaining. But, there is more and I want to share this with you. I coach Missy. I live and share a home with her and our 4 dogs and our team of Ogres, if you will. But, a story is not told so quickly so, I have to rewind a bit to explain.
April 13th, 2013 I was in Cincy at the Women’s pro/am. This is where I met Missy. I remember vividly the stark look she had. There was something that was just unique and I thought, that is someone I’d like to get to know. We spoke briefly and we became pals on social media and would talk and chat. As we got to know each other a little bit, she knew I coached lifters and would ask questions and just chat training, etc. She even asked me once, “if I was one of your lifters, what would you have me do?” I told her I would have her put on weight and learn to cut. That she was so lean and long that with some muscle and body weight, her leverages would be dramatically improved. Now, she was not keen on the idea, especially when I said 180-185 lbs. She was about 155 when I met her. AS time went on, we got to the point where we chatted daily and spoke on the phone often. There was clearly chemistry but, she lived in Charleston, SC and I in Mt Juliet, TN. Later in the year, she was going to be back in Cincy interviewing for a job and it was the same weekend of the North of the Border meet and I would be judging. We agreed to spend a couple of days together and see, if this was something, was it a cool thing, could she and I be an item. The morning of December 6th, 2013 was a training day. I deadlifted that morning, jumped in my Kia with my packed bag, and headed north. I literally got 20 minutes from home, in the rain, snow was coming and I was hoping to beat it. But, at minute 21, my alternator went out. I limped to a parts store, ordered the parts, called my son Wes to pick me up, and take me home and I started my little Ranger pick up with 265,000 miles on it and drove back to my Kia, picked up my bag and off I went. It was now 11 am and had been a 3 hour turn around from the first time I tried to leave.
It takes about 3 hours to get just outside of Louisville, Ky. Wes called and said yes, you will run into some snow but, you could beat it. I got on the bypass in Louisville and it was snowing and parking lot. I got to Louisville in 3 hours but, it would take another 6 hours to get to Cincy. I got there, Missy had ordered food, I had brought a bottle of wine, we ate and spent a couple of days together. I knew at that moment, she was something special. I knew I wanted to get to know her more and see where this would take us.
Melissa got the job and was going to move over the New Year Holiday week. I had some time off and went up to help her move in. She had emptied all the boxes by the time I got there and had returned her vehicle trailer. So, she and I, in the cold and again, awaiting snow, emptied her truck. We had a great dinner and spent the holiday together and the rest is history.
So, how does this tie in to today and her amazing feat of power? Melissa and I have shared and lived so much in our time together. She told me early on that when she and her training partner back at Low Country Strength, Shannon, that she wanted to eventually total elite. That was in 2012. I remember her training and competing the following year at the women’s pro/am and squatting and pulling 300+ and benching 135 which, she thought she’d never hit. The following month, Melissa had landed a job in Nashville, I flew up and we packed up and she came to Mt Juliet with me. Then the flowing month, as she had always wanted to try Olympic weightlifting, she competed in her first meet, totaled 100kg and qualified for master’s nationals. This had little impact initially on powerlifting. Missy and I would have training dates where we’d go to either the Sweat Shop or the Oly gym and train. October/November of that year, she got a bronze at the American masters and then a couple few weeks later, she hit an 800 total in powerlifting. She was 55 away from elite. I made a picture and framed when she moved in and hung it in the office where is still hangs showing what her goals would be for 2014 and what she needed for elite.
2015 became the year of weightlifting over powerlifting. There was great success. A bronze at nationals, a silver at Pan-ams and a bronze at the world cup. It was later that year, she decided to come back to powerlifting. She also wanted to try her hand at strongman. 2016 she went up in weight. She finally decided that the weight would help. Competed and hit some big pr’s and then later that year, made the cut back to 165, totaled 830-fell short 25. 2017 Missy competed in 3 strongman events. Winning 2 and then getting 3rd as master’s nationals. She also went back to the weightlifting platform and hit some state records. She stayed in the 181’s and hit a big total pr and lifetime meet pr’s in all lifts. It was then she decided that training 3 sports was too much. The focus would be strongman for 2018 but, she wanted to make the cut to 165 once more and take a shot at elite as her lifts at her last meet would have been more than enough,. Sounds so simple, yes? But, it’s not easy. In the midst of training and this weight cut to 165, she would need to do a qualifier for strongman masters nationals. Training was hard. The early hours, did I mention we get up at 4 am Monday through Friday because of her job and it’s the only way she can get the training in? Missy did well and qualified easily at the strongman comp and then a few weeks to finish training. The training cycle was horrendous. Lots of struggles, lots of missed lifts and lots of frustration and tears. I was dreading the meet. I knew she would be devastated if this didn’t go well and she had even said as much. I was very excited for our team but, Melissa just struggled and even with adjustments, less volume and less weight, it seemingly got worse. There were days that both of us were so frustrated that it was just difficult to get through the day. As it always works, meet week comes. She’s easily going to make weight and then, boom, she is sick. It’s a cold but, she is sick and coughing. I spent the rest of the week preparing myself for how I was going to handle it if she missed this shot. Keep in mind, Melissa is a master’s lifter, life time drug free and turned 45 last year. We both know, with the wear and tear of training multiple strength sports, the window was narrowing and with the way the training cycle had gone and how she’d struggled in past cycles with the heart breaking oh so close results, I was worried to say the least.
And so, this morning, here we were. I got up super early, fed the dogs, and trained some light aux and coached Carolyn through her session and off we went. We drove to Murfreesboro and warm ups seemed pretty decent. I decided to have her wrap on her last 2 warm ups and hoped it would give her a boost and make the lifts easier and give her confidence. Opener was 305. We knew she had to have 330 to have a shot. 305 goes up and she’s in the meet. I was going to go conservative but, she wanted the 330. I was pretty nervous. I didn’t’ think 305 went in a manner that a 25 lb jump would be good but, she wanted it. To her credit, she dug in and hit the lift. She hadn’t been this heavy all cycle. I went to 335. I knew we’d need some extra pounds as the weight cut seemed to effect her bench the most. Again, she had to grind but, where she had failed in the past, she dug in and keep the weight where she needed it to finish the lift and earn a lifetime pr of 335. On to bench, her warm ups were fine and I was hopeful. I knew if we could at least get 150, she had a 370 pull. She always pulls well on meet day. Opener of 140 goes solid. On to 150 where she has to grind it a bit and so I call for 155. It’s our only option. She’s tired and misses the lift. In situations like this, all you can ask for is an opportunity to be successful, just a shot or a fighting chance. While not her best lifts, she had a sub-total that if she could pull 370, she’d hit pro/elite and finally hit her goal that started all the way back in 2012. She warmed up to 275 and lifted well. I was starting to believe it could happen. She opened at 315 and was solid. On to her 2nd was 345. It was slower of the floor and it would be a fight but 25 more would give her a 370 pull and the 855 total that has been so elusive. I called for 370 and she set up, loaded and the pull started and the weight did not want to move but, she would not quit and finally, the weight pulled away from the ground, grinded up the shins and then finally broken the knee where she finished the lift quickly. And there you have it. 6 years of training, 3 sports, at that moment, she had achieved her goal.
This is our story, our life. We get up early, have 4 girl dogs to take care of and our team both home and all over. These people are our family. We have traveled all over, judged meets, helped at meets and competed everywhere. Each week, we plan and try to find ways to get better and for Missy, she has to fight and earn every pound of strength. Our week and weekends are packed with activity as the gym runs with a morning and evening crew and a Saturday morning crew. I program mainly on the weekend and she runs the girls. I grill on the weekend to prep for the week and she’s doing laundry. It is truly a crazy schedule and pace of life. It’s just the way it is. We have to tag team the house hold things each day and week just to get through the days and weeks. It is now 9:38 pm. She is now, fast asleep and rest that is well earned. I am a proud coach. It is my honor to coach her. She gets up 6 days a week and leaves me laying there to get ready and once she is dressed to head down to the gym, I get up and she gets the girls fed. I have an old pal that asked me one time during a difficult time, how do you eat an elephant? A bite at a time. When you build it, it’s brick by brick and you have to show up every day. You have to show up when you don’t feel good because, the feelings don’t matter. You have to show up when you are tired because being elite means you do it when others won’t. And, she did that. She did it every day and as a coach, you have to love to prepare and I am so proud of her willingness to keep laying it on the line day in and day out. Elite is forever. I am also her ultra proud man. I have shared the moments of triumph and wiped away many tears. I know the road traveled to do this very well and the price you pay and for Missy, this road has been difficult but, all in one moment, she arrived and now, is forever, an elite level lifter. I am beaming, and everytime I see the video of her last pull and her jumping in elation, I tear up. I could just bust and love her excitement. For me, there is nothing sweeter than to see a dream achieved and a goal met. It’s even a cooler thing to see what someone once thought not only was improbable but likely impossible become a reality. You did it my lil hawt tamale, you did it!
And now, strongman…
And, the journey continues…stay tuned
And until then, Lift Heavy, Train Smart & Eat More Pizza!!!!