Friday Jams: Here’s To Good Friends…

…but with better beer.

I have written exhaustively about the friendships you make at Highland Games. I believe it is different than almost all other sports, absolutely different than any sport I’ve been associated with. While many of us show up to compete as hard as we can, no matter WHAT happens by the end of the day, I always know that I will be having fun with friends.

I was thinking of this the other day. Last weekend, I had a chance to connect with Kerry Overfelt and Craig Smith. KO and Craig were here in Wisconsin at my first Highland Games and both hold a special place in my heart. They were encouraging and helpful and the next year when we were reunited at the Wisconsin Games they even got stern with me on my distance throws (I had been dabbling in winding around the head and one turning the event. Craig’s comment? “If that worked Juli, we’d all be doing it.” ) True story. KO then took me off to the side and had me repeat a footwork drill about 837 times until I got it enough to take it home and practice it on my own. Turns out that it’s one of my stronger events and when I start to stray from solid footwork, I go right back to that drill.


On Saturday night, we were talking a bit about which Games were favorites. Craig asked me which had been my favorite so far and I had to think about it. I really enjoy seeing amazing feats of strength and athleticism so those were the first to come to mind. Kristi Scott’s 20′ standing WOB was at Enumclaw; Dan McKimm’s Hammer throws were amazing in Pleasanton; seeing Hafthor go for a WOB world record also at Pleasanton. Those are what stuck in my head. But on the drive home I thought about it a little more and came up with this,

My favorite Games is the one I’m at.

True story.

Whether it’s in the cold and snow or 100 degree heat, I’m having fun. Now, I may be more COMFORTABLE at the Games that are partly sunny, 75 degrees and a nice little breeze that’s not bad enough to mess with my already struggling Cabers but even if it’s not, I’m having fun.

Why? Cuz I’m with my Husband (if I’m lucky, it’s rare but we do hit Games separately at times) and I’m with my peeps. Depending on where the Games are, I could be with my Mid-West peeps; or my SE peeps; NW peeps or friends from Cali. But I am fortunate enough to know that in almost all cases, when I step on the field, I will do so with friends.

Last weekend was no different except for the fact that not only do we get fun field time, but we get off-field time. Time for some real conversations; real laughs; real meals; real Wine and real Manhatten’s (those Double Tree Manhatten’s were night enders but Ooooooo, they were good!)

When we were unpacking the car on Friday after registration as folks were heading out for dinner, I stopped to talk with the Germans. Michaela, Petra, and her husband Uli are absolute treasures of the Highland Games community. They are always positive, helpful, and tons of fun! We were talking about their plans after the Games and they said they were coming to Milwaukee. Here’s how the conversation went….

Michaela: We’re going to Milwaukee.

Me: I live in Milwaukee.

Michaela: Yes, we go to Harley Davidson (Michaela rides)

Me: Where are you staying?

Michaela: We don’t know yet.

Me: Then you’ll stay at the house. 

Done deal.

We had an amazing visit; did a little shopping (I had Petra on a clock according to our Parking Meter which was a delight for shopping weary Uli); and got some throwing drills from Uli while the ladies were in various stores. A wonderful lunch at Lakefront Brewery to give them their first taste of Cheese Curds (you don’t get out of Milwaukee without at least one basket full of cheese curds) and Beer Cheese soup along with other tasty treats. It was such an unexpected treat I can’t believe it actually happened.

What we DID expect; however; was the extended time with our West Coast-ish (Phoenix isn’t West Coast but it IS West of here) friends Max and Yvonne Sadtler and Mark and Victoria Wechter. Along with seeing and spending time with so many other’s; Karyn, Beth and Shannon, Mona and Grant, Sue and Ruth, Edie, Becky and Bonnie, so many that it makes me nervous to start naming names because I WILL forget people!

We’ve been spoiled rotten this season by seeing our West Coast friends so often that it quickly becomes the norm and our Sushi dinner on Saturday night was as normal as if we do it all the time. I believe, as we continue to age, that we have just adapted to picking up right where we left off. We don’t have to waste time familiarizing ourselves to each other, we just enjoy.

What an absolute treat. I’ll even add an addendum to my previous answer on my favorite Games, it’s the one where our friends are…and that means each and every one.

As a general rule, I do not like good-bye’s. Too many of them as a kid I guess. And to be honest, I had my moments of melancholy on my drive home from St. Louis by myself. It helped tons that I knew I’d be able to spend a little bit more time with the Germans but to look forward to something for so long and to have it pass so quickly is a total buzz kill. But I’ve learned, as I prepare to speak those dreaded good-bye’s, to just say, “See you next time. Love you.” And then it’s not so scary.

So here’s to good friends, our time is always special. Thank you for making the Games we share with you my favorite.

One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives.


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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