Monday Bacon: Get Better


Thanks to Douglass Sissk for the photo. It’s my favorite from last years Games in Pleasanton. I’ll be a bit melancholy next weekend not going but will be wishing everyone strong showings. 

Warning, there is some tough love in this one. If you’re offended by tough love, move on. There’s sure to be an awesome puppy or panda video you can watch instead and receive warm fuzzy’s instead of frustration. You’ve been warned.

Last weekend in Buffalo, I had a chance to have some quiet time with some of my favorite throwers on the planet. Friday morning, Bonnie Hicks came over to the hotel with two of her brood and we got a chance to chat while I threw money at the boys in the swimming pool. It was awesome.

Now, if you’ve paid attention around here, you know I far prefer my quiet connection with people over a huge group setting where you get 4 minutes of surface talk and move on to the next 4 minute surface talk. I understand that in these big groups, that’s all you’re going to get at registration time or lunch or whenever we’re all hanging oot. But that doesn’t make it any less torturous for this introvert. It’s loud chaos and it stresses me oot (I was around Canadia’s all last weekend, we’re going with the ‘oots’ and ‘aboots’ for now.)

So a whole hour with Bonnie was a treat. We talked training; trainers; Games; jobs; Virginia; DC; kids; hubbs, basically a wide variety of topics. OH! And dinner. She set us all up to eat at a Brazilian Steak House that night which was so amazing I didn’t want it to end (but then I did. That happens fast at those places!)

Back to the Games. We were talking about how many Games offered a Women’s Masters class around our regions. Now, up here we’re pretty spoiled. Jason Clevenger has had a Women’s Masters class for a few years now. Merl Lawless has the women throw together but the Master’s ladies (I dunno, I just like saying ‘ladies’ instead of ‘women.’ I really don’t know why. Maybe because the term “lady” is underused these days and I live in Milwaukee where it doesn’t matter if you’re a ‘woman’ or a ‘lady’, most men don’t show respect to you. It shows a pathetic lack of upbringing when men don’t respect women…)

…anyway. Merl Lawless will have the ladies throw together but split the classes according to open/masters with separate scoring and prizes. So if you want to throw in a Master’s Ladies class, come on up. I prefer to throw open, for now, but I can still be thankful that a Masters class is offered. And I am. It’s an additional cost for AD’s; additional scoring, in short, additional work. So I’m thankful that these AD’s choose to put out the additional work (ya, I just said that Merl Lawless puts out. Bwahahhaaaa!)

Now, I’m not slamming Bonnie here because this is something I’ve heard from many Masters women throwers and my reply here is verbatim of my reply last week when we were poolside and probably verbatim of my reply every time I hear this. But when Bonnie made a comment that, “we’re still working on some AD’s down here to even the field and offer a women’s masters class…” my response was:


First off, again, adding a class to a Games is additional work. It could be that’s it not much work or it could be that it means getting additional implements for the masters to throw. Dunno. But we DO know it’s additional work.


One of the most important lessons I’ve learned about participating in the Highland Games is that the more you contribute to the day/event/group, the more fun you’ll have and the more you’ll be invited back for the next year. It’s a win-win. You interact with the crowd (by the way, the crowd in Buffalo was one of the best I’ve seen. So many people asked questions, including other participants such as the reenactment folks or the pipers and in turn gave me a chance to ask THEM about their activities. While this is common to a point at Games, I’ve never seen it at this level. The throwers here have done a great job in building positive relationships with other groups and I thought it was very cool.) Where was I? Oh ya, what do we bring to the table.

Now, the best thing about Highland Games is that it is open for everyone. Literally anyone and everyone can throw on a kilt, pay your entry fee, and join in the fun. This has worked well for me because my first Games was four years ago here in Waukesha. I handed Craig Smith my money and away I went. Although I have an athletic background, there was nothing to prepare me for this 28# weight that’s only goal was to land me on my ass or this hammer thing that I’m supposed to keep in some kind of “orbit” and then move it faster and faster as I wind-no problem. Caber? Uhhhh, no. W!T!F! Weight Over Bar? Ok, ya, I can do that.

Four years later and I’m still learning. I think there’s still a lot of improvement I can make on my mechanics and I’m  hoping the old bod stays strong for next year. Next year I’d like to break open my stones and at least improve on my hammers. We’ll see.

But I’ll tell you this. I’ll work on it. After my weightlifting meet I’ll take a little break and stick to some conditioning but will be back at it by November. Because, and here’s something that many Masters women don’t understand (in my opinion), the clock is ticking on how long we can do well. And I care about doing well. Now, here’s the tough love/stern mommy part…

Ladies, what do you contribute to these Games? If you’re in year 2+ of competing in Highland Games, are you in the gym? Do you drill? Do you watch video or hire a competent coach? What do you do to throw further and get stronger? If that answer is, “well juli, not all of us care about throwing so far like you. We just want to have fun and you’re too intense for this group anyway” my response would be, ‘awesome, then don’t ask AD’s to go out of their way for you.’ It’s entitlement and I hate entitlement. Do you honestly believe that just because you’ve shown up, you get your own class? Do you not even hear how offensive that is to the people who DO work hard and try to build up the Master’s classes?

I heard at least three times last weekend someone from one of the Men’s group comment on how the ladies cheer for each other and how weird that it. I’d say it’s because women can multi-task and compete while remaining supportive. Really, unless he’s special, how many men have you seen multi-task. And before you men get too butthurt, fry the perfect egg; do the dishes; make coffee, and take out the garbage. If all that is done and your egg came out perfect, congratulations! You’re a multi-tasker. But overall, women support each other at the same time as wanting to do well. Aren’t we amazing!

However; one place the men excel on the field a bit better than us is that through their laughter and trash talk, they are there to compete. The levels may be different for some but at the end of the day, they’re there to compete. I’ve been fortunate enough to witness the top in the world battle it out and at no time was there a tiara being passed through the group to wear. At no time did they coin themselves some stupid phrase such as the “menopause militia.” They are able to

a. have fun

b. do well

c. give’r hell on the field

d. garner respect.

(By the way, since I’m here, do not ever put me in a group photo and label it the “menopause militia.” Fucking. Ever. It is entirely up to you on how you wish to be perceived as a “competitor” but you don’t get to stomp on my hard work by making a joke out of the class I compete in. I understand you don’t see it that way. That is the difference between a participant and a competitor. More tough love. Sorry not sorry. Also, do not ever try to put some Tiara from Claires on my head after a throw. I am forever in Edie Lindeburg’s debt when this was tried last year at Masters Worlds. I was literally being chased with this stupid thing in attempts to not be rude when Edie stepped in and simply said, “not everyone wants to wear the PRiara, that’s ok.”) Now, if we’re at a silly Games where pride isn’t on the line, I’m all up for silly fun. This would also mean I’m hanging with girls who like to have the silly fun while still kicking total ass on the field, see the difference?

Ladies, if you want the AD to go to the trouble of adding another class for you, get better. Train. Practice as much as you can. Yes, we’re adults and often times life takes over opportunities. No one begrudges you that. But to come to a Games such as a World Championships, even as a Master, and spout off that “maybe I should practice sometime” and laugh, don’t be surprised when you don’t get my respect. In fact, you’ll get the exact opposite. And not just from me. (FTR, Bonnie didn’t say that. Someone else did.)

And if this is “just for fun” that’s okay. Really! I think it’s a fookin’ blast! But you’re not entitled to anything just for showing up, especially your own class.

See how that works?

I react very badly when mediocrity throws a tantrum of entitlement.

Lee Siegel

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.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s