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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.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

It's over!

     I'm not sure how long most of you have been following my journey. Some. I am sure since the very beginning and others probably as late as my spot on Big Giant Swords or hearing about me some other way. Anyways,  if you don't know what my particular predicament was, a simple google search can help you out. Well, today is the day it's over! I can compete again! This is a long time coming. I have read and heard a lot of people say I handled it with grace but, I think minus one situation, I did a pretty good job. Someone called me a cheater to my face and I didn't take it so hot. I said a series of words my mother wouldn't have been proud of including what she calls, "the big one."
     I've mentioned before some of the things I've been through in this situation but, there is always more to say. I am not sure what motivates me, as I figure there are different things but, one thing I know that motivates me is to keep my promises.
     Once word was out and I could talk to someone, I immediately called USA Weightlifting and told them I was coming back, made a plan for paying off my fines, and made sure to get into out of competition drug testing so I would be eligible to compete again. I have been good on all of that. After the Olympics in 2012, I was contemplating moving on from weightlifting. We made a deal and shook on it. "It's you and me against the world, kid." So we went forward only focusing on us and putting all else aside to make a go for 2016. After the bad news in 2013 I can remember, "This doesn't mean you can't train. You can still qualify for the Olympics. Don't you dare quit. If you do, I'll never speak you again." I chose not to quit. Ever. Even though I thought about it. I couldn't do it. I made a promise to myself and to my coach that I would not quit. I didn't. I will not. The coach that started me initially told me "This is an injury to your career; at least it's not an injury to your body." With all that in mind, I pressed forward.

I struggled a lot. I feared a lot. I learned a lot. I overcame a lot.

     One day while talking about something with my roommate I said, "Hey, it's not the worst thing I've experienced." She asked, "Well, what is the worst thing you have experienced?" Well, the deaths of loved ones are of course at the top and probably the suspension being the other. But, you know what? I am a blessed woman. I have been two years without insurance because I a.) don't qualify for elite athlete health insurance any more because of obvious reasons and b.) I can't afford it. You know what? In two years I haven't had a single injury and I think I was sick maybe one time. When I couldn't afford a place to stay, a roof was put over my head. When I struggled to pay for groceries, there was food on the table. When I was lonely or sad, mom was a phone call away. I had friends to hug me or distract me with silly movies. I live a life here in Texas that is very fulfilling. I went from having almost no friends in Arizona (minus those I trained with and a few others), my dating life was non existent, I wasn't allowed time to visit home, or do anything else but train. My spiritual happiness suffered. I was bitter at times, and sad, and isolated. I am as active and as spiritually strong as I have been in my life here; which is important to me. I have so many friends! My teammates and coach here are as supportive of my athletic career as they are of my personal life. I believe that has made all the difference.


     How can a person go from training three times a day, no work, no social life, no family life to having to work 20-30 hours a week, struggle financially again. move, start all over, to only train once a day and still manage to get back into the same shape and better shape than she was before things got crazy? I believe it's because I am faithful, I work hard, and I am supported. I have a well-rounded life. I am happy and I have things in a greater perspective now.

     If this had not happened, I wouldn't have known about a couple of cousins I found along the way. I have family here in Texas and a cousin in Arizona where I was stuck for a week with car problems. I think that may be God's way of letting me know I am not alone.

Here are a few things that were irritating during this process:

     People in the weightlifting world that had never anything to say about me, let alone something good, all of a sudden had their two cents to put in on my situation. I read so many ignorant actually not smart or nice things said about me. Not once did I get an email, or a call to ask me from my point of view what the situation entailed. The other side of that were people who ran weightlifting blogs, forums, radio shows, etc. again all of a sudden wanted to talk with me. I've been lifting since 2008 and they had not once asked for an interview to know my opinion on anything, to say congrats on winning, or anything. The minute I have something negative to my name, they want to interview me? No, thank you. I will not let a hot button topic about myself help generate publicity for you solely for your gain. People also wanted to use me as an example of what not to do as a warning for others. I am not the first nor am I the last to be in this situation. I made mistakes along the way, and yes, I will admit and own up to them. Shame on these people for this behavior. I will even say shame on me especially for the way I handled a couple of things.

Fair weather friends:
     Suddenly, people that were right there by you when you were on top, aren't there to defend you. They suddenly go missing. Ghosts.

Sponsorships, grants, and agents:
     Well, when you're not on top, and you have something like I did attached to your name. You are faced with difficult situations. Sponsorships that were hard to get in the first place, won't be there. A.) It's not an Olympic year and B.) No one wants to touch you with a 10 ft pole. I had a $5,000 grant that I had to return. The donor of the grant was very nice and I think I could qualify for it again some day but, giving that my world was crumbling around me sending that check back in the mail sucked so bad. I had an agent for a short period of time who knew exactly my situation and knew it was going to be hard to only tell me later, "I can't work with people who don't make me money" and "I thought things would have been a lot different by now." Well, no. Things weren't different. Yes. Marketing me in this situation is hard. Thanks for being another one to give up on me during a time I needed someone to see and market the best of me.

People who are purposely out there to stop you from improving:
It is really surprising to experience what I have from other clubs here in Texas. Especially coming from one club where a coach helped me at an international competition. I've been doing my best to be part of the weightlifting community here. I have coached at other gyms. I have helped with a clinic at a university. I have stopped by other gyms to say, "Hi" and watch training. One of the local clubs had an athlete pass away suddenly and I got a card and had my whole club sign it and took it to her family. Two particular situations happened where these, what I call "Concerned Citizens" decided it was their business and everyone's problem that I was participating in an event. At one competition, the meet director asked me if I could hand out medals and take pictures with the athletes. How horrible! The concerned citizens called the national office saying they didn't feel it was "appropriate" that I did that. It's weird that they didn't express concerns directly to me... Maybe it was because I was busy cheering for their athletes, and helping people. On another occasion, I was going to lift as exhibition at the same time as a weightlifting meet. It would be a good way to connect with people, stay tuned up for competition, and have fun. The other "concerned citizens" who didn't even attend the meet made sure to call the national office to make sure that I had as little to do with this meet at possible. As a precaution in case I could be in violation of my sanction, I was advised to lift in another room." So I proceeded to lift in the back where the athletes warming up could see me. Man, that 100 feet of space made so much difference in the outcome of things. (there's is so much sarcasm here n case you can't tell). Yet, some how, I'm supposed to be the bad gal? Anywho, that all happened but, I still pressed on doing my thing.

Lessons learned along the way:

*Follow proper protocol and if you don't be prepared for the consequences. When you think you've experienced the worst of the situation, there's probably more to experience.
*Stick to your guns. If it feels right, and you believe what you are doing is the best thing for you, do it. You are in control of your body and spirit. No one else.
*Know who you are. My papa used to tell me, "When you leave the house you are representing your family." I know who I am. I know what I stand for and I know who I represent. I try to do what is good and right. I try to be worthy to bear my name when I come each night. I also train hard to so I can one day lift on that Olympic platform again.

I hope to represent my God, my country, family, team and self the best I can.

Cheers to that. RIO 2016 OR BUST!


One of the coaches I helped teach at the University

Some of my awesome teammates

My and my hammer friend!


Cibatarian said...

There will always be haters, but they don't get the privilege of defining who you are.

I look forward to watching your run to Rio.

Anonymous said...

You are awesome, kiddo! Don't let the nay-sayers get you down. This is your time to shine!

Barbara Zeynep said...

Loving and supporting you from afar. RIO RIO RIO!!!

Heidi May said...

I got to start following you when you were in the last Olympics. I am not sure what has happened and really don't càre. I believe you to be a great example for women athletes everywhere. Praying you make the Rio team and praying that whatever you need may you find it.

Christopher Camenares said...

Good luck! A shame you can't be at Nationals, but hope to see you back at the top of the mix real soon!

Unknown said...

Buddha said "Life is suffering." Continue to work hard and achieve.

Anonymous said...

I pray for your health,

Christopher Nichols said...

WooT! Happy to hear you're taking another run at it. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

how do you feel about bumping hard working athletes from their worlds team spots? Athletes who have been clean their entire lives. Your whole website is bullshit.

Katon sumargi said...

Do not mind their cheap gossip, you are special and I believe that you can, support and prayers for you from here. Good luck!!!

Cody the Clydesdale said...

If what your posting is so rude you have to post it annonymously then you shouldn't post it.