Wednesday, January 07, 2015



I regard myself as perpetually lucky.  Starting with #13, I consider myself superstitious to a fault.  In any competition, I believe I will win.  I've always thought this way.

So on my birthday this year, I decided to sneak in a lift.  I usually do my best not to make a big deal out of special occasions - shying away from attention.  But as I swiped my card into the fitness center, the 19 year old attendant, who rarely ever looks up, suddenly snarks, "Happy Birthday."

It caught me by surprise, as I had know idea my information was even visible before the gate sprang open.  I smiled and mumbled "Thanks," feeling bashful like he caught me doing something wrong.  Immediately I had a bad feeling.  I tried to shake it off and went HAM on my routine, crushing my last sets of hang cleans at 190x5 and 200x5, with half the gym watching.  I grabbed some beer with a buddy and headed home, only to realize something was wrong.  My foot kinda hurt.  Nothing serious, just a very small ache, exactly where I had broken my foot 3x before.  This had me in a tussle for about a week, before I was able to regain confidence in the 4 inch drywall screw holding my 5th metatarsal in place.

But that was only the half of the problem.  As my foot discomfort faded, I realized I had a more urgent problem in my hand.  Injuries accrue every season, but my middle finger wasn't feeling right.  From a dull ache to a shooting pain, the discomfort was increasing with my workload.  I started icing on the way to work, but found it much more difficult to ice while typing.  Soon, I couldn't throw a flick without pain.  Suddenly, everything I had worked so hard to gain was gone.  It was like starting over - nothing tangible to show despite all the work.  I finally realized that my game was entirely dependent on my big throws.  I was lost in the world.  Frustration and disappointment overwhelmed me in the coming weeks.  I couldn't contribute in my normal capacity.  Suddenly, I was mortal.

Before long, I was throwing just backhands.  Breaks, unders and swings, but all backhands.  Occasionally, I would summon the courage to shoot a midrange huck, but it wasn't the same.  The deep cuts stopped materializing; regardless, it was just pump fakes now anyway.  The situation culminated Sunday of Regionals.  My playing time faded and I watched helplessly was Ironside fell to Goat in finals and edged Pony in the backdoor.  I had nothing to contribute that day and it ate me up inside.

It made me realize that I had to change and adapt if I wanted to factor in down the stretch.  I became a game manager instead of a franchise quarterback.  So, I made strides in other departments, like cutting deep and fighting for resets just to throw the swing pass.  I turned up my defensive pressure, locked down on my man and stopped poaching entirely.  Ironside struggled to convert breaks in semifinals of Nationals against Sockeye and we lost on universe point.  I played hard that game, but couldn't make any difference.

When the off-season began, I focused on leg strength and hand rest.  I took roughly 7 months off before slowly increased my throwing regimen.  The cause of this injury?  Trying to throw 80 yard hammers on the turf with my college kids.  For some reason, I wanted 80 yards in all every capacity - flick, backhand, hammer.  If memory serves me, I maxed out at 72 yards in the moment of injury, partially tearing the collateral ligament of my right middle finger.

Despite the disappointing finish to the season, I learned that I needed to develop other parts of my game if I wanted to become a complete player.