Growing Up an Athlete


So I came across this article on Facebook the other day, titled How parents are ruining youth sports, and sent it to Dom right away. We talked back and forth for awhile as I was driving (sorry mom!) from work to the Olympic lifting gym and we both had some thoughts on it. It starts out well, telling the story of two dads who run a hockey league who’s sons are “hockey-crazed best friends.” Apparently this lasted until one kid didn’t make the mite team, and the two boys and parents never talked again….

OK, I can see where this is a problem. I’ve seen this happen too many times. It’s sad, demoralizing for the kid, and frankly kind of immature in my opinion. Why should that get in the way of a friendship? One of my best friends and I were always on the “A Team” growing up but our other best friend never made it. Did that eliminate our friendship? Absolutely not. Not making the team isn’t the end of a friendship. The article continues to point out that the professionalism of youth sports and single-sport specialization has become detrimental to the kids. OK, again I can get behind this.

“In 20 years of coaching youth and high school sports, I can say unequivocally that adult expectations are the number one problem. As we approach summer, when the living is supposed to be easy, too many families are searching the Internet for a private batting instructor, a summer hockey program, an expensive strength camp, and that elusive AAU coach who can get their 11-year-old to improve her jump shot. This is a misguided attempt to accelerate a process that may not even be occurring, since most young athletes will never reach the elite level.”

“But the fact is, approximately 1 percent of high school athletes will receive a Division 1 scholarship. And those scholarships, on average, are worth much less than the family’s investment in private lessons, sports camps, and other training.”

Woooooah, pump the brakes there. I’m all for athletics being fun, really I am. But the notion that kids aren’t, and shouldn’t be, competitive is a joke in my opinion. I met very few kids when I was young that didn’t treat schoolyard ball as a competition. Growing up, I played AAU basketball, AAU baseball, compettitive BMX, Ute Conference Football, and took hitting and catching lessons year round. Did I have some notion that I wouldn’t make it to the next level? Sure, every kid does. Does that mean I should up and quit trying to get better at my sports? Absolutely not. The journey to trying to become an elite athlete was the best part of it! I thoroughly enjoyed my lessons, training, and summer programs. I made amazing friends, stayed in shape, and was having the time of my life traveling around with my family to play.

Maybe I’m missing the point of this article, but as I read it I just got more and more turned off by it, seeing the message as “don’t let Johnny play competitive sports because he most likely won’t make it to college and professional.” I don’t agree with that. One of, if not the, greatest lesson I’ve ever learned was if you’re not good enough, make yourself good enough. That was drilled into my head from little league through college, and that easily applies to life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today, if my parents didn’t put me through all those sports, lessons, and competitions. You get far in life through hard work, not by picking daisies. And you know what? You can ALWAYS make time for that anyways.

When I have kids, would I do anything different than what my parents did, and sacrificed for me? Nope. Not even close. Take the article for what you want but those are my thoughts! Now allow Dom to give you his thoughts on growing up as an athlete.


I believe I went about it the right way, starting young and learning the fundamentals of the game. At a young age it was relatively unknown the effects that hits could have on the brain but when I was a kid that was the lats of my worries. My mom who was the one who pushed me into the game that I loved and hesitated to play. Once I got out there I knew that my destiny was to play football for a real long time. A career spanning 15 years, football was part of my identity.

Though football gave me a life I truly enjoyed, when I have a son someday I will go about it differently. Kids now a days are more competitive than ever, so are the injury rates. NFL’s concussion crisis has led to rapid decline in youth football numbers and justifiably so. Starting at a later age would be best in my opinion. Letting him lift weights while learning the bare fundamentals would benefit him more starting in 8th or 9th grade.  Less hits on the body and developing physical strength I feel would put him at advantage in the high school world. NFL star Adrian Peterson started playing youth football at age 12, meaning it’s ok to start a bit later.

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 10.15.56 AM (2)Rather than develop lingering injuries early in their career or get “burned out”, let kids decide when they would like to play. Kids should be playing as many sports as they can to develop differing parts of their athleticism and not focus solely on one sport.

When it comes to youth sports, make it fun! Make it something they enjoy. At the end of the day it is the kid playing the games and if they earn an athletic scholarship it will be on their shoulders.

How do you feel about kids’ participation in youth sports?



The King Is Back!

At long last, the king has returned! Months of anticipation are finally over, he’s here! No not Elvis. Not Jesus. Not even talking about Burger King. I’m talking about the greatest monster that has ever graced the movie screen. For some, this Japanese icon was downright scary and terrorizing. Others know him as just this giant lizard with colossal strength and sheer size that makes you tremble. To me, this perfect combination of controlled rage and radiant (very punny) charisma made for a childhood hero I could always look up to. Look up to Godzilla? Sure!

My childhood was founded on WWE wrestling, candy, football games galore, & any and all food I could get my hands on. To say I used to look like baby Godzilla wouldn’t be very far from the truth! Godzilla was always a constant for my brother and I, it bonded us. Whether it was in English, Japanese with English subtitles, or Japanese and zero subtitles. Godzilla spoke one language we both understood: mayhem!

We would watch for hours upon hours of these gripping films. My brother and I watched every title at least twice. We had the toys, posters, t-shirts, and even had some lines memorized! To say we are passionate about these movies would be a drastic understatement. I mean I have this tattoo to represent all of this! I can explain the rest for another day.

Zilla Ink

All month long all I could think about was this movie. It only adds to the excitement or fuel to the fire, when across the street from where I work is a giant Godzilla banner on the side of a building. A Godzilla poster on a phone booth by that building. A banner one the side of another building nearby, and a massive display in Times Square. I mean if this wasn’t the ultimate tease, I don’t know what is! New York somehow found out I was a big fan and pin pointed my location. Genius!


I was ready and had the right mindset but so many questions I couldn’t shake. Was it going to be good? What does Godzilla look like? What if it didn’t meet expectations? Do I  have enough popcorn for this?!

I did attend the movie premiere and here are some thoughts I had about it:

Things I liked

  • The film speaks very clearly to the destruction that mankind wills itself upon nature, exactly like the first Godzilla film.
  • His atomic fire was incredible. I had goosebumps the size of Mount Everest when his spines lit up. Not to mention it was the perfect shade of blue
  • It paid a homage to the past great Godzilla films with the structure and flow. It was exciting to see that preserved.
  • Godzilla looked great in his debut back to the big screen


Things I would Change

  • Develop the main characters more. The protagonist left me with no impression, compassion, and virtually no remembrance. Not a memorable/gripping character.
  • Just an eensy weensy little more ‘Zilla please! Also dive more into his background.
  • Get the big man a personal trainer. He looked bulky which is fine, but maybe a low carb diet before filming wouldn’t hurt.


Overall this was a killer production and was well done to restore credibility and respectability. Specifically speaking to the American involvement in the Godzilla franchise. This was an exciting film for me personally and one I will see again shortly. I would like to see the main characters developed more and less pan from monster battles to military on the ground action. Also, lets be honest, he could shed a few pounds. I read this was a complaint from the Japanese audience but only noticed it when he swam back into the Pacific Ocean near the end of the film.

With all that said, this Godzilla design was phenomenal, from teeth down to the tail. The detail was exceptional! Expect excitement to build from his rise from destruction, which only leaves the window open to you guessed it, a sequel! With injecting new enemies like MUTO into this movie will this leave the opportunity for a foe from the past to reemerge?

This monster never ceases to amaze me. From a child to a grown man, my passion for this 55,000 ton beast will never subside. Forever, he will be the king of the monsters.


From The Mountains To Manhattan

Picture this. You’re lying on a couch, waiting for the phone call that will directly change your future. Hopes and dreams lie in the balance. Life is on pause, feeling like suspended animation. Whether you move forward or remain stagnant all lies on this moment.  Then with a blink of an eye *POOF* you’re taking a train into the heart of one of the world’s biggest cities. A massive array of skyscrapers and bridges like none other. For some this is daily life, but for a kid from Salt Lake, this changes everything.

Fast forward to today, nearing my 8th month in New York City and it has been a whirlwind.  It’s no wonder this place was recently slotted at #2 on Forbes’ America’s Most Stressful Cities. I would describe my time here as challenging, advancing, emotional, certainly stressful, and definitely helpful. Moving 2,000 miles across the country has been eye-opening to say the least!

The opportunity to live in this city at a young age would have been foolish to pass up. To accept the opportunity to challenge myself in every aspect of my life is truly something I am grateful for. With challenges comes triumph, one great lesson learned from living in this city.

The question I get asked the most from friends and family is “what is New York like?” Well…I have a few answers. Here are some observations that quickly grabbed my attention.

  • New York is fast, fast, fast: Whether it’s cars, people, events, or the work week. Time flies here and if you can’t keep up you’ll get lost before you know it. So much is going on and so much is happening, the days feel like a blur. Out west, things move at a much slower pace.
  • People don’t smile. Throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks is the saying best used in this situation. You can throw many smiles around while walking down the street but your chances of getting a reaction are slim to none. Cheesy grins on the subway? Fuhgettaboutit! Most people here are all about business, just getting from point A to point B with no BS in between.
  • Public transportation? Yes please! In Salt Lake, I don’t know too many people that take public transportation. Here, it’s a way of life. Driving a car in this city is comparable to taking on Xerxes’ army in the Battle of Thermopylae in the movie 300. The outcome is not good! I’m too scared to even try. I would rather eat a bowl of chocolate mints combined with coconut, two enemy foods I despise the most.  Instead, there are a zillion subway stops that take you all over the city. Need to get home after a late night on the town? Stumble to the subway. Terrified that a snow leopard happened to escape the Central Park Zoo? Sprint to the subway. Need a ride after filling your stomach to max capacity at Dinosaur Barbecue? Roll your way over to the subway.
  • Culture check: This city is truly one of the most diverse in the world. In comparison to Salt Lake which happens to be well recognized as….not. A complete 180 of where I grew up and went to college. There have been countless times where i’ve been on a subway and not heard a single word of english spoken. Thinking of saying the phrase “you’re in America, speak the language”? Yeah…that won’t fly here. Other times I’ll walk in a restaurant and have absolutely no clue what’s on the menu. Trust me, Bún bò Huế, is one of the tastiest dishes i’ve ever eaten. Restaurants, music, and events of all cultures can be seen and heard. The “melting pot” of American culture is stirred here.

Now don’t get me wrong, this place is no utopia by any means. There is plenty of cigarette smoke in the air to give you a buzz. The term formerly known as “personal space” goes out the window. EVERYTHING IS SO EXPENSIVE! I still get lost from time to time and it’s very easy to do so. The dreaded POLAR VORTEX you saw all over your TV’s this winter was easily the worst winter storm I’ve ever experienced. No snowstorm in Park City, UT or Denver could rival this villainous combination of snow and wind. Every day you see something new that catches your eye, it could be both good or bad.

With all that combined, it’s given me an incredible 8 months thus far. Though my heart will always be loyal to the West, this loud, chaotic, busy city has certainly grown on me.

Photo op: At Madison Square Garden following a Utah Jazz loss to the NY Knicks. Pictured here with Isaiah Wright, a good friend of mine from Salt Lake.