Monday Bacon: Hidden Gems

I’ve been involved in sports for over forty years. Softball; swimming; a brief stint in soccer where I thankfully hurt my knee early enough to get out of the knee destroying sport; weightlifting and now Highland Games. There’s probably some in there I’m forgetting but you get the point. Lots of practices, lot’s of games, lots of events.  In all these games and events, some were more organized than others. Some had prizes, some didn’t (and you know how I LOVE prizes.) Some had sammiches, some didn’t. But the ONE thing Highland Games has over other sports I’ve been involved with? Athletic Directors.


While the AD’s job (understand that I have minimal experience here) is to put on the show, the amount of times they go above and beyond taking care of their athletes is innumerable. Drinks, sammiches, shade, the multitude of equipment (including the multitude of cabers needed), directions, hotel suggestions, t-shirts (that always go to the Oz man), great judges that are beyond helpful, and I’m sure tons of other things I’m not thinking of at the moment.

Our job as athletes? Show up. Yup, tough stuff.


Even though these hidden gems are busy with countless things I’ve already stated PLUS the behind  the scenes organizing we don’t see, I have yet to meet an AD who hasn’t given me some type of advice to make MY performance better. As thankful as I am that I can train and practice; work with some of the best in this sport here and there; and travel to these games-I almost assuredly owe many of my current PR’s to an AD’s quick coaching cue.

This past weekend in Minnesota, I had the benefit of throwing in the group with experienced AD and head judge, Jeff Bryan AND games AD and thrower Brian Hare. Now, if only I could get them at each of my games, I’d be good to go. Brian made sure our group stayed hydrated and had plenty of energy food (read: donuts) during the warm day and between he and Jeff and other judge Rich (who was our judge at the Minnesota Highland Games last May in Farmington), we flew through the events and I personally had a 5 PR day with their help. Elbow up, chest up, eyes, settle down, and I think there was a Mary Poppins comment in there somewhere too. (AD’s are also notorious for their smack talk. Truth.)

I’ve come to both appreciate and rely on the experience and expertise of the AD’s and I’ll always try to keep an ear open for a helpful comment (even if it’s to someone else.) OH! Back to the multitude of Cabers comment. This weekend, when one of our guys tossed the Caber it came down with the crack of thunder as loud as a respectable thunderstorm. Our AD, Brian Hare, finished it off with his toss and then proceeded to invent a new Caber toss event.


Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom exists in not exceeding the limit.

Albert Hubbard

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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