Mahalo. Kiitos. Kamsa Hamnida. Thank You.

Arnold Girls

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.

A.A. Milne

Well, I have no idea how big or small my heart is, but I DO know that I am so very thankful to so many for opportunities to help me find success. The only order my thanks comes in is the first, all others equally have a piece of my heart that will be forever grateful.

Thank you to my Bigg man, who built me a gym which allowed my work commute to be about 15 seconds and allows me to avoid the challenges of finding time to get to the gym to train. For his strength and protection and his love of living (and eating) large in competition. There are people who are able to make a relationship go without understanding the other’s passion, I’m thankful I’m not in that situation. The amount of times I heard, ‘What do you need baby’ these last couple of months is uncountable. There are so many little things that Matt takes care of that takes pressure off of me I’d need an entire blog post for just him. But it’s important to say that I know he does it and I’m so thankful to him and for him.  I wouldn’t be throwing at all without his encouragement to give it a try even when HIS competition took him halfway across the world (where he was kicking ass until that other bicep tendon blew…damn tendons!) He is my light and my life and supporting my throwing and helping to financially make it happen is just a blip of what he does to make me who I am. Love you Bigg.

arnold awards

Brian Huntley and Rich McClain and the entire GLSAA crew that took on the enormity of throwing a Highland Games amidst the largest sports festival in the world. I have no idea what it takes to do such things. I DO know that spending a day on the field; in a snowstorm; with an Arnold title on the line; moving from event to event with just enough of a break to snack or TT but not long enough to “get cold” (heh) means that all of the behind the scenes organization issues were planned for; executed; and quite honestly, kicked ass. The tents; the heaters; the smooth check in; the quick rules meeting; the swag; the roaming the groups to check in with the judges; the JUDGES (I’m probably biased but I think ours was best;), the prizes; someone (I think it was Kelly) showing up with bottles of water JUST when needed in spite of HER throwing. Everything. This was one of the most amazing sport days of my life (and I don’t think I’m the only one) and that Rich and Brian along with their team stepped up to make it happen is quite overwhelming to me. Thank you doesn’t even begin to cover it but it’s a start. I’ll always be grateful. Thank you.

Again, thank you to our Judge Stephanie (I hope that spelling is correct or at least close) and our helper (whose name I’ve forgotten. See, when I tell you people that I suck at names I’m kinda not kidding.) The Sciscoe family for their shagging and wiping down of implements and standing up our Caber and I’m sure other things I didn’t see that just made our life easier at each event. That was incredibly selfless of you all who could have just stood around and relaxed while we shagged our own stuff. Thank you!!

My ‘support staff’ of KCon and Little Con. Not only flying in from Michigan to basically stand around in the snow all day to watch me throw stuff, but taking good care of us and making sure we had the best pre-game meal and fun times that were possible. Spending time in their light was a gift. These are intelligent, funny, silly and sensible, beautiful, amazing ladies who took their task so seriously of making sure we had a good Saturday night that it was impossible to fail in making that happen. Thank you ladies, May 10, we’ll see you then.


Talk about strong, intelligent ladies…special and heartfelt thanks to go my fellow throwers. I was quite excited to get a chance to not only meet but throw with Terri Ventress. I had a chance to meet her on Saturday in the sun watching the Pro’s throw and the ginormous smile and hug that was immediate is so warm and calming that I instantly understood why she is so beloved among throwers. After throwing all day with her, the word I came up with to sum up Terri would be Matriarch. She is the center, not in a ruling sense, but with her energy. She not only is so highly respected as a person and obviously an athlete, but I watched all day as each of us checked in with her in some way. Maybe not even realizing it, but her grace and upbeat attitude while still keeping a competitive edge was one we should all strive to emulate. The high energy of Courtney McGuire was never ending. Her selflessness on the field only adds to her charm and without her, we would have been a more somber, colder group. She kept us going. All day in snow and wind and cold. I don’t have that gift, she does and I will forever value her for it. Seeing my girls Melanie and Shawna and spending another day with them is a treat. I don’t say that lightly. I’ve learned in life that even when we wish to spend more time with certain people, we need to hold dear the moments we get. This was one of those times. Knowing I’ll get to have some Scotland time with Shawna AND Mel makes me very, very happy. (Having amazing grilled cheese sammiches later on with Melanie and Dustin was bonus. Thank you!!) I had a chance to throw with Anita and Dawn last year and having their familiar energy on the field was comforting, see you in a few weeks at the Shammies ladies! I got to throw with Amy Jenkins, my first Highlander event down in Texas was with her sister (Sara) and Amy proved that there’s some class in that blood. She’s sweet, supportive, strong, and her constant smiles through the cold day were so appreciated!! Meeting Teresa, Bonnie, and Kelly (SO fun to meet some of the FB friends in real life;) and watching them work so hard through the last hammer throw helped keep me going. Teresa’s open stone flew like a bird, congrats! And our two Canadians Willow and Josee. My first experience throwing with a Canadian is with our friend Tammy and though she IS one of a kind, the hilarious; badassadry; beautiful; and determined traits seem to be those that they ALL share. I adore these women. They are honest and supportive and hard working and I could listen to them talk all day long in their Quebec’n accents and melodies of their words. I don’t know when our paths will meet again, but I know they’ll meet as friends and I look forward to that day. And that’s how it rolls with all of us. We left the field with new friendships which is the epitome of Highland Games. Aloha to all my fellow ladies, you’re awesome.

There are so many of you that sent positive thoughts or messages that when I started reading comments, messages, and my texts at the end of the day, I was completely overwhelmed.  My children, having them say they’re proud of me is one of the biggest gifts a mother could ask for. Jason, Jane, Jasmine, Brittney, Big Daddy, Swede, Mona (damn girl, we missed you), Amber, Jenn, Malia, Ben; everyone who liked or commented on Matt’s updates. Every single piece of positive energy sent my way was not only felt and carried me to the field, but enveloped me at the end. This is the Hawaiian in me, carrying energy from others (which also means I’ve needed to learn to leave the negative stuff to it’s owners.) But today, so much amazing energy and support was felt by me from each and every one of you. Whether I placed 1st or 5th, I understand that the positive vibes sent my way were heartfelt and I am so thankful for each of you taking the time to send them, even from as far away as Finland and Holland, even from some of the Strongest, thank you. There were a couple of you I was comfortable enough to confide in how much I wanted this and allowing me to be real and telling me to just “Go get it!” means the absolute world. Jason and Brittney, you da man.Thank you.

There are others, I KNOW there are. Brian Hare for his coaching during the off season and even ON the field while he was competing himself. Jessica Rabbit for her awesome energy and always asking how it’s going when we’d connect AND her kick ass Games Minion pic. Merle for his help and hugs. Jeff Armstrong for his help. Darryl for his hug. Ladies open winner Jocelyn Davis for her FB note of congrats, that was very sweet of her! Heather Macdonald for the cool HG shirt. I’m thankful for all of the athletes and organizers making it home safe an sound in spite of some awful weather affecting both drives and flights. Kirk Remer at Winners Edge Sport Performance in Pewaukee. I contacted Sally of Winner’s Edge and asked if Kirk would be okay if I came and did drills all winter at his place INCLUDING swinging my hammer around in the back room with beautifully sheet rocked walls trusting that I wouldn’t shoot the hammer right into them. These drills have kept me going and only having one or two days to actually get outside and throw in this Polar Vortex of a winter was a key in Sunday’s performance. Kirk, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

And I’m thankful I get to be throwing again in a few weeks in Springfield…indoors, or at least out of the elements.

If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.

Meister Eckhart

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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