Saturday, August 7, 2010

Former Action Guy Top Ten Greatest Sports Moments

Like most people I am not a professional athlete, nor have I ever been one. I am not even an amateur athlete as I don't consider that my primary occupation. I do however consider myself an athlete as I define it. I define an athlete as someone that is athletic, that plays sports or participates in them. Level of skill or competition not withstanding. That being said I was thinking the other day on a run how I am always trying to compete and what some of my greatest sports accomplishments might have been. Below is my personal ten greatest sports moments, you will never see these on ESPN. They are also ranked not as much by accomplishment but how much they meant to me. Enjoy

10. Most Improved Wrestler Kennedy High School 1981- At the time I didn't realize the impact of this accomplishment, in fact I was pissed and angry I didn't get a Varsity letter and instead received a JV letter ( which I burned in retaliation). However what my adolescent brain should have realized is that all my hard work, weight lifting sessions, early morning runs etc.. had indeed been noticed. I also credit this hard work in the wrestling room with forming the character and never quit attitude I would rely on heavily in my military career.

09. NAUI Scuba Certification 1984- On a deployment to the Sinai Peninsula Egypt, I managed to get certified as a NAUI Scuba diver. I was always a strong swimmer but to overcome the fear of being deep underwater for long periods required some getting used to. It was something I only did for a few years but I enjoyed every dive and now when I see someone diving I can say.. Hey I did that!!

08. Madison (Mad City) ,WI Marathon 2005- I have run hundreds of races, 5 km,10km, 10 milers, 20 Km, you name it. Running has been a hobby of mine over the last 20 years even though my speedster days are long gone. I have run 4 Marathons (26.2 miles) and plan on doing another in October. On this one day in May 2005 everything came together, I had trained through a long cold winter for this spring marathon. My goal was to break a personal best under 4 hours. I started off strong and held my pace steady the entire way, I never hit the wall the entire race like I had and would in past and future marathons. I finished in 3 hrs 59 minutes making a personal record I have not equaled since. This race also finished up at the World's Greatest Bratwurst Festival which was an awesome post race event.

07. Des Moines, IA Marathon 2007- This is not my best marathon or my worst as far as finish time, but it was the absolute hardest to finish. I never have had much luck in Des Moines, my first experience there resulted in my all time slowest marathon time. This one wasn't any more pleasant. I had been training for an ultra-marathon (longer than 26.2 miles) earlier that previous winter and noticed that my left knee was starting to ache horribly and swell after running. Being a Former Action Guy I pretty much ignored the pain but decided maybe I should just run a regular marathon instead. I also cut down on my training miles prior to the race topping out at about 18 miles as my longest training run. I was icing my knee and eating handfuls of Motrin in the weeks leading to the marathon but was still not going for any medical advice. Self medicating is what Former Action Guy's do. The day of the marathon I felt pretty good and actually the first 15 miles went along as planned. I was even on pace to have a decent time. Then things went bad, my knee started to ache so bad I had to start walking, first every mile or so and then eventually I was walking more than running. The last 2 miles I was in excruciating pain and was literally holding back tears as I crossed the finish line. The next day I went to the doctor and discovered I had torn my meniscus and would require surgery. Although I was a dumb ass for ignoring the pain, I was still proud that I didn't quit.

06. Eagle Airport National Golf Course 2009- I like playing golf, some years I play more than others and in 2009 I played exactly one time. This time happened to a best shot golf tournament I was playing with my Dad and some of my brothers. In my family I am definitely the weak link in golf, I don't practice enough and taught myself how to play which promoted bad habits. My Dad and my brothers can actually be very good when they are on their game. So what usually happens on these tournaments is I hit the ball, they give me crap, and I drive the cart. We rarely use my ball unless everyone has a truly horrible lie. On this particular hole #23(yes this course has 27 holes) I teed off first as usual so I could get out of the way. I hit a good tee shot which is not that unusual because I usually drive ok, it is my short game that sucks. What happened next was the great part. I had out driven everyone and my second shot miracle of miracles landed on the edge of the sloping two tiered green. This was a par 5 and I had about a 30-40 foot putt for eagle sideways and down hill. So when it was my turn to putt I just aimed to get it close. The putt rolled slowly then picked up speed and curled perfectly into the cup. I had just eagled the hole and no one else had even used their ball. My best golfing moment ever and my only eagle.

05. Honor Graduate Special Operations Target Interdiction Course (Sniper School) 1994- I attended sniper school at Fort Devens MA, and we spent hours shooting thousands of rounds out of our M24 rifles. We learned field craft, stalking exercises etc.. Going into the final graded shoot I was tied with another soldier for Honor Graduate, the final stalk and shoot would decide. The night prior to the shoot we parachuted into a drop zone via Black hawk helicopter and made our way over terrain for 10 miles our so to the range we would be doing the shoot.  The range was 1000 meters long and surrounded on three sides by large berms to stop bullets, we would be entering on our stalk from the south and heading towards the berm that terminated the range, on this berm where man sized targets. Also on this berm was an instructor with binoculars and a radio. There where other instructors walking around the range with radios. The way the drill went was each student would begin his stalk using all available cover and concealment and establish a shooting position that we hoped we could shoot from and avoid detection.. We would then fire the first of two blank cartridges. The instructor on the berm would guide one of the other instructors into your position based on the noise or any other signs of movement. If they couldn't find you then you fired your next blank round. Again they would try to pinpoint you. If they were unsuccessful you then fired two live rounds into a designated target, one of these had to be a head shot. This was to determine if you could actually hit anything from your position. I did all this and escaped undetected. Back at the classroom during the critique I discovered I had out shot my rival by a mere 3 inches. I had scored my second shot 3 inches closer to the kill zone then he had, I won Honor Graduate by inches.

04. Military Free Fall Instructor/Accelerated Free Fall Instructor 1995-98- Military Free fall is skydiving and MFF instructors teaches these skills, Accelerated Free fall is the civilian equivalent of an MFF instructor. I added this three year period because I can say during this time when I instructed at the US Army Military Free fall school and also got certified as a civiliann skydiving instructor I was an expert at something. My skills as a skydiver were peaked I merely had to think about what I wanted to do in the air and it would happen, my body was a reactive, proactive and well oiled machine. Over the course of those 3 years I taught hundreds of students how to skydive from the ground up and saved many of them from killing themselves in their first few jumps. My designation as MFFI356 is still one of my proudest moments.

03. Decorah Time Trials 2010- I detailed this suck fest extensively in this post earlier this year

02. Special Forces Selection and Assessment 1990- SFAS is by far the hardest thing I have ever accomplished. It is a grueling test of manhood that one must pass to even get the chance to become a Green Beret. It sucks and the Discovery Channel did a pretty good job documenting the suckiness

01. Grand Slam Noelridge Park 1973- Ok I love baseball, I love watching it, I umpire baseball at the High School level I just love it. Behind wrestling (real wrestling not WWE) it is my second favorite sport. I however was not very good at baseball, I never competed beyond the Little League level growing up. On this one day however I was a star.  I will never forget, it was the bottom of the 5th in a 6 inning game and I was up to bat with two outs and bases loaded. I was not a very confident batter and I had already struck out once. This pitcher was getting tired however and I remember thinking his windup was slow and he looked like a stork. He threw me a ball, then a strike. I spit on my hands tapped the bat on the plate and got ready for his next pitch. It seemed liked he delivered it in slow motion a big lollipop pitch right over the heart of the plate. I swung the bat and it connected, the ball shoot out over the center fielder's head and kept rolling. This park had no fences so it was a race between me and the outfielder on whether myself or the ball would arrive at home first. I ran as fast as my short little legs could carry me around the bases and beat the ball home. I had just hit the only Grand Slam and only home run I would ever hit in my life. After the game I raced my bike to the Tastee Freeze and treated myself to a foot long hot dog and ice cream cone. By the time my parents got home from work, they were tired and just nodded when I excitedly told them all about it. I will never forget my greatest sports moment thought not even almost 40 years later.

Honorable Mention: 5 Pound Bass caught,Rockford 1/2 Marathon, Every call I have ever made as an official

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