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Jessica is our 2016 Olympic Hopeful and Sarah is our 2012 Olympian in Weightlifting. We're setting out to be "Pretty Strong" and we encourage you to do the same.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Why I chose Texas

A week or so ago, I asked for blog ideas. I was asked about movies, ice cream and a little bit about my training. One question that came in a little late asked for something like "Of all the places you chose to go, why Texas? Why that coach?"

I was in a hard place with my training. I was staying in Az to wait for the phone call to come back to training only to read I wasn't coming back after about 4 months. I was also waiting to hear the results of my full punishment at that time so I couldn't really talk to anyone about what was going on to even try to make a back up plan in case things didn't work out with me and my coach. 

A little while before hand, I spoke with Jessica about training with her again and possibly moving to Florida. She wanted me to talk with her coach but, I was too scared to do so. I decided to wait it out and wait for everything to be announced, let it boil over a bit, and see how I was viewed by the weightlifting community. I anticipated being hated and ostracized and the like. Things turned out better than I anticipated so I felt comfortable speaking to people more openly.

I had decisions to make on my own too. Should I go back to school? Should I move home? Should I just work? At the time, I was throwing hammer and I was considering just going back to track and field. When talking with my teammate and my throwing coach, I decided that if the decision was favorable, and would allow me to compete at the Olympics again (aka my lifting career wasn't over) then, I should seriously consider my options for lifting. 

So that's a little bit of a back story for you. 

In my mind, I've already lost too much time with lifting. I also knew that I would have one-three competitions before the 2016 Olympics. Two years is both a long time and not a long time off. If I were to make an Olympic team again, when it was time, I had to hit the ground running. I couldn't afford anymore mistakes. I had to be with a coach who has"been there; done that." I couldn't afford to be with a coach who hasn't been to the highest level of sport. Elite international competition is a completely different monster than domestic competition. I wanted a coach who's personality would match my needs. I thought "Who would want to work with me?" but, in particular "Who would want to work with me under these conditions?" Maybe coaches perceived me as a bad example to their athletes or kids, maybe they wouldn't want to associate with someone who's reputation is tarnished,, etc.

 With all these thoughts in mind, I made a list of coaches who I would want to work with. I whittled the list down to who would want to work with me. I whittled the list down to the ones who had experience enough to work with me. This made my list VERY small. My selection may have been small but, I had to be selfish and make the most calculated decision possible. This is my career. This is the Olympics, after-all. I would rather work with the best coach to put me in the best situation than potentially risk it all and wasted two years of valuable training time for anything less. That is not to say that every other coach is a lesser coach. I hope thos that read this do not interpret it that way.

At the top of my list was Coach Tim Swords from Team Houston Weightlifting. My first experience with him, he helped us out in the warm up area of the Jr. World Championships of 2008. After I won my silver medal he have me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. I think he called me his "hero." His athletes and I have competed on the same international teams and I always talked with Tim at meets where I would always get a hug and kiss. My old coach used to say, "You only like Tim because he kisses you." Haha.

When I called Tim up. and explained my situation, he was really nice, understanding, and nonjudgmental about the whole thing. He said I was one of his favorite people, that I'm still his hero and he would love to work with me. I was sold at that point. The rest of our conversations were spent working out the kinks and giving training updates along the way until I could move out there. When I arrived, I half way expected to have to "present my case" to him showing him all my letters and lab results, etc. He never even brought it up. That lets me know he trusts me. At this point, I really need to feel that.

Tim is one of a handful of coaches in the USA who started athletes and took them all the way up to the World Championship level. He has had 46 combined youth, junior, and senior national champions, and has taken athletes to every level of competition you can think of with the exception of the Olympics but, he has had an Olympic alternate so, he was pretty stinkin' close. I've seen the amazing things his athletes have done, I have seen him coach his athletes at meets and I felt strongly, that Tim was who I needed to be with.

So, after a couple months of saving and preparing to come, I got in my car, said "goodbye" to my old coach, my hammer coach, teammates, friends, and everything I worked hard for for the past three years for a new adventure that will hopefully put me on the Olympic podium in Rio 2016.



Cody Hanson said...

Thank you that was great. sorry, one more question. what's the gym called? I retire next year and want to move to a place thathas an Olympic weightlifting gym. turns out there aren't that many! So far I'm thinking Shreveport, Atlanta, Albuquerque, or Santa Fe

Aimee said...

What I love about Tim is, even though I am not training for the olympics, a world team or even a national championship, he still happily and effectively coaches me towards my personal goals. I am so honored to have him as my coach. You really highlighted his accomplishments. Thanks for this post!