2002 Clemson Tennis post-workout on “Muscle Beach” behind Jervey Athletic Center
I know looks can be a little deceiving so let me give a little bit of background: This pic was taken a little over a year after I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and was still working my way back into playing shape after losing about 40 pounds and being super sick for over a year.
When I first transferred to Clemson (after a year of lying in bed chilling feeling sick and depressed) I was embarrassingly weak and out of shape…
…so that summer a few of my teammates and I decided to stay at school and train with the football team.
We flipped tires, ran drills, power cleaned, squatted and sprinted until we blacked out & cramped in order to get in shape for the season…and this pic was our final off-season workout before the season started.
Our strength coaches were so proud of the work we put in they wanted to take a shirtless group photo…that never happens to tennis teams…like ever!
Our mantra that season was “no other team in the country was going to out-work us”…and of course that sounds great until you actually realize how hard it is.
Working my way back into playing shape after being sick + crazy weak and out of shape was arguably one of the hardest things I have ever done…both mentally & physically.
But it was during this time that I learned how important ‘the process’ was…and how we as athletes needed to respect it and love it.
I learned what it really means to battle through adversity when everything inside you wants to give up and die.
I learned about the deadly disease called instant gratification and how we must avoid it at all costs if we ever wanted to be elite.
I learned that you must be broken down to your core before you can breakthrough and reach the next level.
I learned about real passion, patience, perseverance, and what it means to trust in the work you’ve put in.
Coach used to always tell us “gentlemen, if you seek instant gratification, you’ll never become champions. You must have a passion to do, and a patience to wait. Trust in the work you’re putting in – it will pay off in the long run”.
In less than a year I went from a 120 pound sickling who could barely walk up the stairs…to a guy who could compete with some of the most elite athletes in the nation.
Back then I sort of knew my stomach problems would probably prevent me from being the player I was when I was at Miami, but I just wanted a chance to be able to get out there and compete with my teammates one last time.
At the end of the day…battling and competing with your brothers is what sports is truly all about.
So that summer I just decided to work my ass off…
Respect the process, trust in the work, and let the rest take care of itself.
“When the athlete decides what he really desires with all his heart and the price that he is willing to pay for it, he stops worrying about the small pains, those things that the opponent does, and any other stumbling blocks, and he focuses on the job at hand.” -Vince Lombardi
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