Reflections on The 2013 I CAN Games

by Craig Hysell

It has taken me a long time to wrap my head around the weekend of June 15 and 16, 2013. So much happened, much of it seems like a blur. Other pieces of it seem to be in slow motion. All of it was awesome in the way that word should truly be used.

First of all, the event would not have been possible without all of our sponsors and volunteers. I know that sounds cliche, but it is simply a fact. We could not have afforded to put on the event without them. In regards to our volunteers however, my feelings go much more personal.

Our volunteers were not business partnerships, our volunteers were my friends: many of them old, some of them new. It hurt me to watch them in the hot sun, judging heat after heat, dealing with intense crowds, ensuring that the competitor was both safe and judged as fair as possible, thirsty, hot, sweating, suffering, moving gear from here to there to make my plan all work, doing their best, even asking if there was more that they could do when they were already hot and tired. I did not like putting them through any of that. Not one bit. And I am very, very grateful for their help on day one and day two. In fact, I really do believe that with our water guards out in the ocean, we avoided some very serious problems. I think they literally saved some lives.

And what about Robin and Aram at The Box Grill? How good was that food (even though I was so stressed out on Saturday I couldn’t eat any of it!)? That is the best food I have ever tasted at a competition, period.

In regards to the athletes that represented this box competitively, I was proud beyond belief. Those are my peeps out there, man! Imagine working with people day in and day out for months and months and months and then understanding that at competition time, you cannot be there for them. Hard for them? Maybe. Hard for me as their coach? Almost to the point of being unbearable. All of them wanted to represent not just themselves, but their gym, their home, as best they could. Many of them felt they fell short of this. This is bullshit.

To my Competition Team, I say this to you, and in front of the world, so that you understand completely where I am coming from: I could not be more proud of you, no matter where you finished, because every fucking one of you stepped outside your comfort zone, got in the ring and did your best. Fuck the results. Who cares? Work hard, work smart and learn. That’s just life. The main thing for me, the ONLY THING really, is that you have internalized and exemplified the philosophy of this gym, a philosophy that I humbly feel makes you better at life: you went forward. Those of you that placed, man that is awesome. Those of you that did not place, man that is awesome to me as well: BECAUSE YOU TRIED!! You stepped into the unknown, through your fears, and got shit done. That is how you become great.

My girls on day 1: Kate (placing), Ashley (grinding through her fears and showing nothing but heart in the finals), Kelly (I don’t care how you feel, babe. You did something great I can’t wait until that sinks in and you go again), Liz (to the finals on your first one), Runks (sorry about those double unders, kiddo, but you still rocked it out), Linds (after a tough start, you bounced right back in a division you weren’t too sure of!), Christine (busting her ass and smiling every time I saw you!), Mary (steady, like the Terminator), Karla (moving weights with spot on technique).

My men on day 1: Aaron (PRing in every event), Ed (chipping away over and over again), Stephen (getting more and more confident by each event), Mer (getting to the finals after almost drowning. Forgive yourself on those double unders at lets move on, my friend!), the Heinrich boys (technique has come a long way!), Will (going attack mode), Tony (getting stronger), Mike (utterly intense), David (fighting through injury until he couldn’t go anymore), Glen (grinding through the finals to place), Jason (in the hunt and enjoying every second out there), Big Dave (at his first ever CF comp and enjoying the ring like men do), Luke (cussing and having the time of his life), Godfather (going to work until he couldn’t go anymore), Dan Condell (steady, unbending).

My teams: Man, rock stars. Many of you competing on day 1 and day 2. The most impressive thing I saw on team day? The camaraderie amongst you. You all worked together. You all watched out for one another. The second most impressive thing I saw? Adam Goldstein suffering through those lunges at the end of the day. You have no idea how hard it was for me to tell you all that you could not help him. You have no idea how proud I was when he finished without anybody helping him.

I learned a lot that weekend. I am confident that we are on the right path at not just creating strong athletes, but I feel like we are a community that allows good, hard working people to meet other good, hard-working people and that raise each other up to that “next level”. That is the true goal of this facility. To give good people the opportunity to be their best self. We just pursue that larger mission through the hard work of general physical preparedness.

Lastly, I would like to recognize Dayna. Without her, none of this would be possible. I handle the workouts and the logistics of them. She handles the much larger, much more challenging job of gathering sponsors, securing fields, producing the event, co-ordinating all the facets that make the day of go so smoothly. She is an amazing event planner. And she is the reason all of you get to come out and play with us at The I CAN Games.

To everybody that came out, competitors, spectators, volunteers, family and friends, thank you. I’ll see you around campus. And for those that train at CFHH, I’ll see YOU at the box.

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