This weekend marked the first competition for myself and several others of the Steelworks family. Brooke Havens, Lindsay Schoonmaker, Michael Snyder, Branden Jenkins, Patrick Fountain, and I took on the fourth annual Christmas Throwdown benefiting Toys for Tots hosted at Riverfront in Wilmington, DE. Though we knew the workouts before hand and had spent all last week practicing different strategies, nothing can compare to the real thing. To say we were going outside our comfort zone would be an understatement, but I have never been so proud to call myself a coach and member of Steelworks .


Working through the clean-burpee AMRAP.

Throughout my life I’ve competed in countless games, tournaments, and outings; however, I can’t ever recall being so nervous for anything in my life. There was a lot of tossing and turning the night before as the self doubt started to creep into my head. Was I going to miss my clean attempts? What if I get stuck on the double unders? Should I breakup the kettlebell swings or go unbroken? I’ve performed these movements countless times without fail, but this time it was different. This time it counted. I was being watched on every rep, every attempt, and was being ranked for all to see. I was terrified of embarrassing myself in front of the other athletes as well as my Steelworks family. Was all the hard work over the past year worth it? The knot in my stomach grew and grew. As we approached our exit off I95, I thought about how nice it would be to just keep on driving. I was having a great time just chatting with everyone in the car. Why ruin it with a silly competition?! I did however decide to park the car, and our crew made the slow, timid march towards the front doors of the facility.

The moment we stepped into the gym, my anxiety began to fade. A calming feeling came upon me as I looked around at the other athletes. Sure, there were your rock stars; the super-human hulks that exist in every affiliate. But I also saw some older competitors, some beginners, and everything in between. I looked around and I saw a microcosm of our very own gym. I remembered why we were all participating – to celebrate our commitment to becoming stronger and healthier, and to give back to the community. I decided to practice what I preach, and left my ego in the car. I was going to do my best and focus on my teammates. We huddled together and decided to just have fun and do our best. It didn’t matter how we performed. We had already done the hard part by signing up and committing ourselves to the journey. I kept asking everyone – “Two years ago, would you have ever seen yourself doing this?” The answer for almost everybody was a resounding, “No.” Just by showing up, we were already champions.

Now, this plan certainly made us feel better, but I’m not sure how long it lasted (at least for me). I’m a competitive person in every sense possible. If I was going to compete, I was going to try win. I knew I had prepared. I knew I had put in the hard work. It was time to let loose.

I won’t get into the specifics of each workout, but I think every one of us exceeded our own expectations. Though none of us had realistic visions of winning the entire competition, we all had goals we wanted to attain. Michael, Branden, and Lindsay all set PR’s on their clean, coach Pat had an incredibly impressive performance with basically the use of one leg (he had smashed his knee on a barbell earlier in the week), Brooke set a PR on her clean and finished 2nd overall in the women’s scaled division, and I finished top 5 overall and made it to the bonus workout.

Coach Magic performing in the bonus workout of the Christmas Throwdown at CF Riverfront.

Performing in the bonus workout of the Christmas Throwdown at CF Riverfront.

Like I said, I have never been so proud to call myself a part of Steelworks . The encouragement from our athletes was remarkable, but the support from the Steelworks community not competing was even greater! Katie P and Devin were in it for the long haul, as they traveled to and from the event with the competitors and served valiantly as “Team Mom.” George and Jenn also surprised us by driving all the way down to cheer us on and strengthen our cheering section. Countless people in attendance asked about Steelworks and commented on the vigor of our entourage.

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The vigorous entourage of Steelworks !

This was a weekend I know I will never forget, not due to individual success, but because of the way I felt watching my friends and fellow athletes compete. I highly encourage everyone to participate in the next competition. Whether you want to compete or be a part of the cheering section, it is an awesome experience. Please congratulate your fellow Steelworks athletes this week and be sure to check out Devin’s pictures in the link below.