And In Conclusion (that counts for three words, right?)

I got a lulz the other day when fellow thrower (and by ‘fellow thrower’ I mean we both throw, not that I’m on her level of awesomeness) Heather MacDonald (a teacher or professor, I don’t remember which title. The one where she grades papers, that I remember) had a run in with a student who didn’t like being marked off for saying, ‘and in conclusion’ on their last paragraph of an essay.

I remember that trick. Let’s see, I need a 1000 word essay so I start off with, ‘to begin with’ and end it with ‘and in conclusion.’ Heh. I suppose the world we live in now would add a ‘so’ to it. It would look something like this, ‘ and so in conclusion‘ for that added word. I’d probably add a couple of harshly typed “look”s in there too. For dramatic effect.

So here goes, in reference to the 2014 Highland Games season, And In Conclusion…

It started exactly 238 days ago from Saturday. In Columbus at the Arnold…


I worked as hard as I knew how in the off season to prepare for it and, along with some very lucky bounces, pulled out the win. It was in the snow, and by snow I mean an all out snow storm.  Throwing WOB straight into snow and hoping you just stay on your frozen feet. That kind of snow. (I’ll refrain from mentioning that those soft Pro’s decided to throw in the beautiful spring sunshine the day before to avoid such conditions. It would be rude to point out that ladies in their 40’s and up are tougher than those soft Pro’s. I don’t want to be rude. They’re nice guys. Just soft;)

Anyways. The Arnold was a once in a lifetime event for me. In that, even if it’s offered again, you’d have a hard time talking me into it. It was cold. Too cold. That we all walked away without injury was something I’m very thankful for. But I’m too old and, I guess, too soft for it.

From Ohio to Illinois and Merl Lawless’ Shammies with the Ancient Athletic crew (I really do heart throwing for Merl. His prizes are always off the hook and this time we even enjoyed a Ceilidh afterwards.) April was Jason Clevenger’s backyard games where, thankfully for us, it only hailed and rained on Jason and crew setting up. (heehee, sorry Jason;) Beautiful spring sunshine for the rest of the day with some of our favorite throwers was perfect made better by a grill out afterwards. Numms.

We took a break in May for that wedding thing and hit the local Games here in ‘tosa (it’s toe-sa, not to ss-a) which was even MORE fun when Jason came up for it along with Katie and Luke. Katie won by the way and by won I mean she beat Luke because it’s an open field. Girls rule and boys drool.  THEN I had the great idea, a couple weeks later, of throwing in a partial Games Friday night in Chicago and hot stepping it to Indiana for a full Games the next day with the Stout Barbell crew. Never again. Our Games in Chicago ran late and hey, did you know when you go to Indiana from Wisconsin you lose an hour? You did? Why didn’t you tell me? OH! And the next Sunday Matt got to get on a plane for the Middle East. Sound like fun? Really? Cuz it actually wasn’t. Well, the Indiana was an absolute blast and if we could have transported ourselves back to ‘tosa without the drive it’d have been super duper. But we couldn’t, so it sucked. I’ve assured Matt that when I have these hair brained ideas again, I won’t snap at him if he tells me that it’s not a good idea. I mean, I’ll probably still think he’s wrong cuz by next season I’ll have forgotten how awful it was but at least I won’t snap at him. So there’s that.

Enter us limping into July. Not good. At the time of the season where we should just be ramping up for greatness, we were tired. Lesson learned. FoShizzle.

July brought Minnesota and throwing for Jeff Bryan who ensured that the meat pies, port O potty, and beer tent were strategically placed right next to the throwing field. Plus one for Jeff Bryan (actually plus 1000 cuz he’s really quite wonderful to throw for.)


One of my better photobombs of the season with the Minnesota boys.

The chilly rain put a slight damper on the day but I threw my HWD with the 28# PR that day in the pouring rain.  I also PR’d my Sheaf with the help of Jessica Hare so it was a great day. Next year the big guy comes with me and we utilize the location to enjoy the meat pies and beer tent more. True story.

July closed out with Enumclaw and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If we can make Portland next year and spend a week in the PNW, we’re in. Fingers crossed. I’ve written about the wonderful and the sad that revolved around Enumclaw so I won’t add anything else. I will say that it is an absolute delight to watch the Women and Men’s Pro classes throw. They are amazing and I’m thankful for it. Being able to help shag for part of the day on my off day(by the way, don’t say you’ll shag in Scotland. It means fuck. Lesson learned) makes me happy because I’m so thankful to be there but it didn’t wear me out like last year. Not knowing how to handle the Caber bit me in the arse but I had an amazing day and even got the Vincent brothers to pose with the Gamesminion:


He was a bit scarred after that but recovered quickly when I told him that Matt won the World Championship. So I guess it’s okay to be brutalized by a world champion. Good to know. Moving on.

Look! I knew August was going to be a challenge with three Games scheduled but I thought I had a plan on how to handle it. I was wrong, I drove myself into the ground. Another lesson learned. Throwing for Clevenger two times is an absolute treat. I could go on and on and on and on about how awesome he and Jane are but most folks already know that and this is sposed to be an “in conclusion.” The Wisconsin State Games and the Throwing for the Cure Games are staples in our schedule and we learned it takes a little more than constant pouring rain to dampen our fun. (Get it? Rain? Dampen?) Again, throwing with Sue, Ruth, Katie, Elissa, Candice and even a few ladies I hadn’t thrown with before including author Annie Marshall was super cool. Plus, Katie keeps tempting fate with her back and wants pictures of me on it. I worry I’ll break it but what the hell, the chick is stronger than most…


The Games themselves were just fine. Where I went wrong was in my recovery. I threw too much. Next year when it gets busy like this, I’ll only drill and do very few full throws once a week. That’s it. If I’m lucky enough to run down to Clevenger’s for practices with a great group of folks, I keep it to two events. Caber and a height event. I ended up throwing every event down there the equivalent of two Games worth of reps and it destroyed me. I limped out of August at the Waukesha local Games (more rain, goodie) and was so very tired. My numbers showed it too by the way. Shocking.

Well, ya know, then there was Scotland and Swindon. I’ve gone on ad nauseam about Scotland but holy crap, what a ride. If I only had one word to describe Scotland it would be ‘Thankful.’ For the opportunity; the friends; the food and malts; the laughs; the hugs; the throwing; the prizes; the celebration of Highland Games; the Scots; the entire experience. It’s not too shocking that I came home from the GBR a little fluffy and a lotta tired. But I had the end in sight. Bonfire and Bagpipes with Kevin Nies was absolutely stunning, as it was the year before. It is an absolute gift to be able to throw at this one. Indiana was the last for Matt and one last round of hugs for the year with these folks were treasured. Mike and Amy Huth; Dawn and Sue; Tracey and David; Jeremy and Ashley (congrats by the way you two on your engagement!) John O’Connor, Rob and Rachelle. I know there’s more I’m forgetting. An absolute blast!

And then this weekend in Texas. After Indiana, as tired as I was, I committed to working as hard as I could to be prepared for Texas especially since it was a Team challenge and I wanted to step things up for my mates. But then fall hit ‘tosa and the rain prevented me from doing too much throwing. Oh sure I did drills in the gym but only few days of actual throwing. And then suddenly two days before I flew out, I realized that I felt better than I had in a long time; had the best pre-Games practice since July, and felt completely prepared.

And it worked. I PR’d seven events and tied my sheaf PR. On my last Games. So in conclusion, more drills. Less full reps once I start getting tired. Take it easy in the gym. Walks. Good food. Rest. Someone remind me to read this next July. It works.

Our team won this weekend. Of course I’ll be a dick and say “obviously.” Heehee. But we really did have a great group of women and throwing with Teresa Nystrom again (this time in 90 degree heat, last time in the Arnold snowstorm) was really quite awesome. Her positive energy and huge smiles throughout the day kept us going and getting to know Amber, DeeDee, Bonnie, and Breah was an absolute treat. Great women and if there were a better way to finish out a season than by a team win with these ladies I have no idea what that would look like (maybe winning the lottery after the Games?) Well done ladies!


While eating dinner at a food truck food court after the Games, Michael Dickens asked if it was okay he spost a picture with me flipping off the camera on the Facebook. Precious. I’m all, uhhhh ya dude, it’s my thang.

There are thank you’s, so many. The hard part of the thank you’s is my fear I’ll forget some (knowing I will.) I hate that.

First, of course, to my (now) husband who supports and bankrolls most of this throwing stuff. I am incredibly fortunate to have his support, I know that. Throwing with him in Games this year was lots of fun and the amount of times I’d hear from other ladies on the field say ‘my husband has a man crush on your husband’ I’d just smile and say, ‘ya, that happens a lot actually.’ He’s the best. If you’ve met him you know that’s a true story.

Jason Clevenger, I’d be half the thrower this year without him and his dragging his stuff out on a precious day off so that a bunch of us are better prepared for Games. I am so thankful for Jason and Jane’s friendship and support. Brian and Jessica Hare, if all I did was watch more videos of Brian throwing the hammer I’d have been better already. But their coaching (mostly Brian’s but it was always a treat when Jess was around) gave me tools to be better. It’s still coming and has just started to click but I know I’m on the right track. I’ll do more sessions with him this winter up in the Great White North if he’s game. He’s a great coach and I’m lucky to have him. Mindy Pockoski, that she has such a strong impact on my throwing through e-mails and a few videos showcases how awesome a coach she is. If you haven’t bought the Contrarian Approach to Throwing yet I’ll just assume you don’t want to be a better thrower. OH! And if you’re in my class of throwers, please don’t. Kthxbye. On that same note, the Training Lab and other training tools by Matt Vincent. I ran his program from day one of the off season last year and came into the Arnold in fighting shape. I’ll take some more time to recover right now but when I’m ready for those 10×10’s, I’ll hit it with gusto.

There are many, many people who dropped a cue or two throughout the season. Many, and it made a positive impact. Mark Wechter, Michael Dickens, Jeremy Gillingham, Craig Smith, Adriane Wilson, Michelle Crownhart, Spencer Tyler, judges whose names I don’t know, Duncan, Jason, Sue, Ruth, Katie, Jessica, Brian, Luke. World Champion Hans-Dieter Dorow who took the time to show me what I was doing wrong with the WOB on the airplane ride back from Inverness. I have PR’d my last two WOB’s, I am forever grateful. The A.D.’s who forego having a life during the Games season just so we can throw on a kilt, drink some scotch and have a blast. It is an honor to throw for each and every one of you. The judges and so many people who serve supporting roles.  My fellow throwers, Mona, Michaela, Dawn, Tracey, Michelle, Katie, Jess, Elissa, Victoria, Teresa, so many. Many of the elite throwers who set such wonderful examples on how to not only excel at sport, but be a ton of fun and good to other people at the same time. I value that. It’s special about the Highland Games.

Damn, I know I’m forgetting people. Merl and the Ancient Athletics crew, Clevengers, the TCAA and Ms. Brittney. Wally and The Queen and their crew. Kevin Rogers and Gerry Reynolds. Mike and Amy Huth and John O’Connor. Jeff and Kevin.  Hoss and Candy Sprinkles, Max and Yvonne, Melanie and Staci…Scotland would have been completely lackluster without you. Big Daddy, Mr. Matchmaker, we heart you long time. There are some of you out there in Highland Games land that are incredibly entertaining. I’m not dropping names but you who lulz me or show a simple sign of support, thank you.

My support staff. KCon, little Con, adopt-a-Con in a snowstorm. Jeff and Jess for Texas taxi service and an amazing dinner. My Seattle fam, the Oz man, the Z’s and Dan (if you don’t have an awesome ex-husband, I’m sorry. I do.)

So long 2014 season, you were grand.

Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.

Michael Jordon

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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