Training Camp

I’d been looking forward to the Minnesota Scottish Fair and Highland Games for a while now. A chance to spend a weekend “at home” (Minneapolis area); a chance to spend some time with my Z’s (who came for dinner, free food YO!); and another chance to learn.

And learn I did.

Jeff Bryan, the A.D. for the Games, gave us a competitors list which gave me a chance to scope out the competition. Turns out the women’s side wasn’t going to be much of a competition…on my end. Sara Hilgers took 3rd this year at the Women’s World Championships. Katie Steingraeber took 5th. Holy crap. To go to a games and throw alongside this caliber of athlete is part of what makes the Highland Games awesome.

ADD in the fact that my new friend and Fork/Sheaf expert (and maker) Jason Clevenger came from Illinois and threw with the Master’s in our group and I pretty much just paid an entry fee for a day long training camp with some of the best of the best in this sport.

As is almost ALWAYS the case with throwers I’ve met so far, Sara and Katie were very friendly and helpful throughout the day. I had to  quickly make notes on the i-phone of all the cues and tricks they, and Jason, gave me. I also chuckled at the fact that even though they’ve been constrained by the same weather as I’ve been in terms having lack of practice opportunities (they’re also from Wisconsin), they’d get just as frustrated as I would at “poor” throws. I say “poor” cuz they were still sometimes over 20′ further than mine.

Both Sara and Katie have an excellent coaching eye and were able to give useful cues to help my future throws. There were plenty of times I forgot that I was a competitor and just watched in awe. I also learned that this is something I need to change.

I’ve mentioned before that I am uber competitive and while I need to use that energy in my throws, I can’t let it distract me enough to take me out of an event. In this case, I was in pure learning mode and didn’t bring enough of that competitive spirit to the trig with me. I believe that while I need to use this opportunity to learn and show respect, I also need to compete to the best of MY ability. I don’t think I did that. So I need to fix that before I go to Enumclaw in July and compete with more “best of” athletes.

Overall it was an incredible day. I’m so thankful to these top athletes for being such classy and selfless competitors. Thanks to Jason for spending time with me afterwards to get me on track with some Sheaf drills.  Mother nature seems awfully pissed at Minnesota for some reason, dumping up to a foot of snow in the surrounding areas last week but the day was dry and the field was fine.

And the PRIZES! Here’s Jeff Bryan and I with my 3rd place prize. If you know what this thing is called, let me know.


Be bold. If you’re going to make an error, make a doozy, and don’t be afraid to hit the ball.

Billie Jean King

Training Log

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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