Let’s step into my Time Machine like Dr Who and travel with me to December 14th 1985… my birthday!! Good things have happened to me on my birthday here in 1985 and in 1996 I graduated with my Bachelor's in Science - Kinesiology. Welp back to my story.
I’m at my second powerlifting meet and it’s a big meet for sure being held at the hotel that’s so close to The Ballpark at Arlington that you can see the outfield from the windows of the hotel restaurant. I’m there with my coach Rick Gaugler and my two training partners Russell and Hank and all of us competing!!!
Now try and understand that this is a big deal for me because I’m fresh out off the Army all of 23 years old (turning 24), just a kid from the east side of Detroit and have never flown somewhere just to compete. Walked in and saw the venue and admittedly I got a wobbly in the knees at the prospect of being on an elevated stage in front of a huge crowd.
I was entered into the Open Class and had a decent opening squat of 611 pounds but we will come back to that squat in a few but remember this is 1985 and we are in single ply suits and have equipment check AND we weigh in 2 hours before competing.
Rick says that until I total 1650 my ass is staying in the 198 pound class, mind you it’s one of the most competitive classes in powerlifting at the time!! Of course I’m over by a few pounds so I’ll be watching what I eat, well in reality Rick will be watching like a hawk and if you’ve ever heard me tell stories about Rick then you’ll know that he will slap that food out of my hand before it gets close to my mouth!!
I don’t have a scale in the hotel room so I head to a gym nearby to sit in the sauna then back in the room we turn up the heater and I wrap up in blankets to sweat off weight since all 3 of us needs to drop weight, Rick has his own room and ain’t struggling with his weight so I’m sure he’s sleeping comfortably.
Saturday morning and we head to weigh in before we eat so I step on the scale and I’m 194…OH GOD panic sets in as I think that my squat suit won’t fit right because I’ve lost too much weight so off to the fancy buffet I go and I eat everything in sight and I’m not kidding when I say I’m eating everything that’s not nailed down!!! Think I had a solid 20 pieces of French Toast and eggs. Afterwards we head to the rules meeting and equipment check then to the warm up room…. Starting to feel a little queezy from the food… have a sip of Sprite and nope that’s not any better!!! side note: to this day I still cannot drink Sprite
So lets come back to that 611 opening squat…. Nice and easy but as I’m coming up so is all of that French Toast… I'm about half way up … and out comes my breakfast right in the Head Judge’s lap!!! I’m standing there waiting for the “rack” signal and once I get it I ask if it was a good lift? The Judge comes back with ‘I’ll tell you when you clean up your mess’
Funny thing with this story is in 1987 I moved to San Antonio and walk into probably the best gym there is in the World of Strength. Bob and Mary Dickson’s Olympic Gym and there behind the counter is Dave Spadafora the Head Judge who I puked on just a few years before….he jumps up and yells
“OH NO DON’T PUKE ON ME” and the entire gym erupted in laughter, me included!!!
Dave was one of the toughest powerlifting judges in Texas if not the USA. My training partner Milo and I use to say that if we could get Dave to pass our squats then we’d have no problems getting white lights at the meets (side note here; we didn’t want someone to tell us our squats were good only to get to a big meet and find out we’ve been squatting high). We knew Dave worked nearby so we decided that on Squat Day we’d get Dave to come to the gym and judge us. We would go get a sandwich and all the goodies (sure as hell wasn’t gonna ask him to give up his lunch time to help us without buying him lunch). We’d set Dave right in front of the platform and had it timed perfectly that we’d be at our final 2 warm up sets then into the work sets… we’d get done and Dave would give us some additional feedback and off he went back to work.
It’s been a long time since I’d seen Dave but I have never forgotten the impact he’s had on not just my powerlifting career but on me personally. We’ve run the back stage area for Bob and Mary at the South Texas Bodybuilding Show… he and the rest of the Powerlifters gave me lots of shit when I decided I wanted to compete in a few bodybuilding shows and cheered the loudest…. when I became an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Antonio Spurs he told me how proud of me he was!!!
The other night Sally and I went to Little Italy to eat and this guy comes walking through the restaurant and I immediately recognize my old friend. It’d been at least 20 years since I’ve seen him but when we stood there introducing our families it was like we had just seen each other yesterday.
Sometimes you never know the impact that you have on a person until many years later… Always make sure the impact that you have on people is positive!!
Play Hard… Train Harder… NO EXCUSES