Balancing Obstacle Fitness and a College Education
When I came to college 4 years ago I was a much different person, both physically
and mentally. The Mason I am today would be unrecognizable to the Mason of
Freshman year. I walked into my dorm room weighing 115 pounds, probably
smaller than everyone in the whole building, and lacked self-confidence. I was a first
generation college student who had no idea what he was going to do with his life.
For reasons I am still unsure of, I chose to enter the business school. I was content
with this decision for sometime, but that all changed once I was introduced to
American Ninja Warrior.
I focused on my academics for the first two years of my college career. Though I
joined the Wisconsin Sailing Team during this time, and through hard work and grit,
ascended to the team’s National roster as a heavy air crew, I still chose to put most
of my time into my studies. I was getting great grades, and finally started to enjoy
my major. During these first two years of college, I believed that this was the path I
wanted to continue on for rest of my life, and oddly enough, was happy with that
This feeling of contentedness I felt quickly evaporated and I felt an emptiness in my
life. I realized that this focus I had no longer made me happy.
At the beginning of my junior year I witnessed Geoff Britten and Isaac Caldiero make
history, conquering Mt. Midoriyama. I remember calling home to my little brothers
to talk to them about it. I could just hear the excitement in their voices. It was
something I had never heard before. After this I dedicated myself to my training and
pushed my body to its limits, because I wanted that excitement to be about me
someday. I was finally able to relocate that happiness that I had lost the previous
year, and I solely focused on my training. I saw the value of this increase in my
training almost immediately, both in Ninja and in sailing. These accomplishments
and the commensurate degree of happiness I had obtained soon came crashing
down in January of 2016 when I stretched myself too thin, and tore my ACL as a
result of this strenuous training.
After this injury I once again lost that happiness I worked so hard to find. I could no
longer train for American Ninja Warrior, or be an active member of the sailing team.
Schooling was not my mind, and I endured my worst academic year of college.
Because of this injury I would miss sailing at my first collegiate nationals and miss
the opportunity to compete on Team Ninja Warrior: College Madness for Wisconsin.
This great college experience I worked so hard to have, had been suddenly pulled
away from me.
The summer after my junior year I worked at an internship in a large corporate
office and got my first job as a coach for American Ninja Warrior at Obstacle
Academy. I was able to forget about my injury and focus on the life I would live after
college. Every day that went on, however, I couldn’t help but enjoy coaching at
Obstacle Academy a little more and enjoy my desk job a little less.
And with all of this I finally figured out what I want to do with my life. While I know
I have what it takes to enter the corporate workforce and move my way up the
ladder, I also know it isn’t what I was meant to do. When I graduate in May, I will be
moving to the Twin Cities, so that I can focus on my training, as well as use my
business and coaching skills to help bring Obstacle Academy to the forefront of the
obstacle fitness world.
So here I sit, at a coffee shop on campus just four weeks away from graduation,
pondering about the last four years of my life, and what they have meant to me. My
grades have improved, and my training has never been better. I am a member of the
Wisconsin Sailing Team’s national roster, and graduating from the University of
Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in finance and economics. None of this would
have happened if I didn’t find a balance in my life, because when I just focused on
one part of my life, I was never able to remain happy. I will be starting a job where I
am able to continue this balance between obstacle fitness and professionalism.
If I have learned anything over these last few years it would be to discover your
passions in life, and find a way to implement them into your everyday lifestyle.
While I am still just 21 year old, I truly do believe that I am making the right decision
for my future. I am doing what makes me the happiest, and I hope that everyone
reading this is able to find something for which he or she has the same level of
passion of excitement as American Ninja Warrior does for me.