In the spring of 1988, I fell in love with the sport of Track & Field at age 15. I saw tremendous success within the sport during the next few years and eventually earned a scholarship to NC State University where I, ultimately, ended up becoming an All-ACC performer in the Decathlon in the spring of 1995. I met my future bride shortly thereafter and chose to start my life with her as opposed to pursuing the Olympic dream that I’d had ever since I was a kid. It was the right decision at the time and believe me, my life with her has been absolutely wonderful. As a matter of fact, this year we will have been married for 15 years.
However, after much deliberation and feeling the need to answer God’s Calling, in the spring of 2010 after a 15 year layoff, I returned to the sport I so passionately love. The decision was easy, yet a tough one as well. I stopped pursuing other interests. I left business ventures behind that I had been trying to build for 15 years. I heard from many people that I was a disappointment and that I was beginning a backslide that would ultimately cost me my marriage and the respect of my children, friends, and family. But to add insult to injury, as if that wasn’t enough, my body immediately began to betray me.
You see, I am the type of person that’s either at total rest or moving at 100% - there is no middle ground. So in my haste to return to form and to admittedly silence the naysayers, I immediately sustained multiple career threatening injuries. Plantar fasciitis, adductor tendonitis, patellar tendonitis, bursitis in my throwing elbow, and partially torn the cartilage in my right knee – these are injuries that most people deal with on a daily basis as they age. However, these types of conditions are kryptonite to the 1 rep max athlete. And I am still working through the residual effects of these injuries even today; yet, I never stopped training and did what I could. I completely eliminated my training for half of the disciplines within the 10 event decathlon. And I’m not gonna lie, there have been times when I doubted whether or not my decision was the right one. I’ve even wondered whether or not I was following God’s call, or just simply trying to satisfy a selfish need. Nevertheless, I’ve pressed on, choosing to believe that God’s Will shall be done and that he has a plan to use all of this for His glory, and not mine alone.
My professional life has been another huge challenge. I was stuck in a position that I truly disliked. I was sick to my stomach some mornings driving into work. I absolutely hated the fact that I was forced to play the corporate game, but love my family enough to do so. Some hope had been restored after a leadership change had occurred, but my situation stayed the same. So approximately 15 months after that change, I jumped at the chance to take a far lesser paying position within the company in order to focus on training, but more importantly, to keep my sanity.
So, what’s the result of all this? Has it all been done for nothing? Well oddly enough, as only Destiny would have it, it turns out that 15 has always been a blessed number for me. In just 15 months after 15 years away, I’ve been blessed with 9 U.S. Regional Championship medals (8 Gold, 1 Silver) and 6 U.S. National Championship medals (3 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze), for a total of 15. I have also won 3 National Titles (javelin, HJ, and PV) and have recently placed among the top 8 finishers in each of four separate events (javelin, discus, shot, and HJ) at the 2011 Masters World Championships in Sacramento, CA.
So basically, in 15 months I have realized so many dreams. In 15 months I have experienced so many lows, yet even more highs. In 15 months, I won my first ever National Title, only to win two more later on in the same meet. In 15 months I have met, befriended, and established relationships with many (past and present) U.S. and World champions within the sport. And in 15 short months, as I stated on camera and ultimately to the world in my Reset story, I have already realized my dream of becoming a world class athlete. I can truly say that if I were to retire tomorrow, it would have all been worth it.
So should I hang it up? Should I quit while I’m ahead? Are you kidding me….it’s just the beginning! I now have my sights set on the 2013 Masters World Championships and am in training to make a run for the medal stand in the men’s M40-44 age group Decathlon in Porto Alegre, Brazil! I’ve hired an incredible Olympic-caliber coach, have begun training with an elite Olympic Development Team, am plugged in with a world class rehabilitation and injury management team, and have the greatest spouse and children in history of the world!
But most importantly, I’ve already begun to see that all of this is way greater than me. I have now had four former NCSU teammates tell me that I’ve inspired them to get back into competition as well, and that they will soon be joining me on the Masters circuit. I’ve had many friends, relatives, and co-workers enjoy these successes with me, as it is just as much for them as it is for me. I’ve begun to receive daily encouragement from other elite track & field athletes from all over the world. I’m seeing that the pursuit of my destiny is empowering others to begin pursuing their own, and this is why I’ve answered the call. It’s about the impact, not about the medal color. I’ve had countless moments that have brought me to my knees in physical pain, yet, I’ve had even more moments that have brought me to my knees in Prayer and Thanksgiving.
So this is my story. This is my Calling. This is my passion. So now take this and apply it to your life. This is why you matter. This is why you can’t ignore your Calling. Your Destiny awaits you, but time does not.
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