The “Dog” Days
Friday, November 12th, 2010. 18 carries 167 yards 2 touchdowns. Final game of my high school football career. A hard fought battle, with year of overcome adversity, I ended it the way I wanted and went out with a 39-28 victory over cross town rival, Lake Worth High. I cried like a baby because I knew this glorious moment was soon to pass and never to be felt again. A moment I hold dearly to my heart. A moment of triumph and a cap to a less than par season with a group of fellas that I will always love and respect. The best backfield Park Vista had ever seen went out with the way it should have.
Fast forward. Its August 6th, 2011. I say my goodbye’s to my family and florida as I head off to pursue my dream of playing college football for The University of Mount Union in Ohio. A team that hadn’t last a regular season game since 2005 and had won 4 of the last 5 national championships in division 3. I had everything I always dreamed of in the palm of my hands.
August 8th, 2011. First day of camp. As we line up to check in and receive our equipment, I was called to the front of the line and was told to pick any helmet I wanted, they gave me a bag of gear and the number I wanted. 22. I picked this number because I wanted to give my father a sense of pride to carry on his number into the college level as he was robbed by a plague of injury from playing on Earl Bruce’s Ohio State team.
August 10th, 2011. We are testing combine drills. 4.51 40yard dash, 4.12 (if i remember correctly) shuttle, and a 33in vertical. I had one more drill. the broad jump. As i step up to take my first attempt, confidence level: Unbeatable. I take off and leap. At that moment, the familiar sense of impending failure rushes through my body like a bad drug. Out goes my back. I couldn’t move my legs for 30 minutes. Again I cried, but this time it wasn’t triumphant. This time it was utter shock and disbelief. As I’m being carted off to the trainer’s room, I remember thinking, “This is it, my career is done. Everything I’ve ever worked for, everything that I value in my life is done. I’m going home”, and that’s just what I did. I packed my bags, hung my head, and cowardly quit.
For the next 8 months I sat around, in a state of depression and despair that i wouldn’t wish on even my worst enemy. I gained 20lbs, played hours of call of duty, took hundreds of pain killers. I was a fucking bum to the fullest of the meaning, with absolutely NOTHING progressing in my life.
February 2012. I was arrested and charged for Burglary and Assault on a minor (he was 17 and I was 19 at the time). I spent 27 hours in a Palm Beach County jail cell before being released on bail. My life rock bottom had just become a bottomless pit of failure. I lost my friends, my integrity, my respect, my freedom, and myself. At the time I thought this was the worst possible thing that could ever happen to me and that I was absolutely done for. Looking back on it now, it was the best thing that’s ever happened to me, because sitting in that cell, at the lowest point of my life, a fire that had been cold and dormant for quite some time, was rekindled. An overwelming sense of “this is not who the fuck Pat Thompson is, and sure as hell not how Pat Thompson is going to go out.”
Fast forward. May 2012, I leave Florida ( on mail in probation ) to work for my uncle in Ohio to try and get a fresh start, I guess. Trying to get back to my roots, I was looking for a gym, but didn’t want to end up at some local commercial gym where hot girls would look at my fat ass and wonder why the hell I was even there. Some how I came across this kid on Facebook. His name was Chad. He had trained a few people including himself out of his parents garage. I knew a few people that he trained there so I decided to check it out and ask if I could come in for a lift. When I got there, he had 1 squat rack, 3 bars, a single bench, a sled and a rope….It was nothing I was used to seeing at the gyms back home…Where the hell where the cables???? He called is “Nashdog Barbell” and I wasn’t sure how i felt about it. He wanted me to squat and deadlift, and i told him i can’t because i hurt my back a year ago. The typical excuse of a lazy, fat, commercial gym going pussy. I just wanted to bench and hit biceps until my arms looked like swollen, chubby cheese puffs. He didn’t let me. He said no, if you’re back hurts, you’re going to push this sled until you puke. And that’s just what I did…I pushed a prowler up and down the street until I couldn’t breathe and eventually puked in his grass. I remember thinking to myself, “how the fuck is something so simple so hard?” I was no beginner to “lifting” but at that point i realized, I’d never TRAINED a day in my life. I was hooked, like a feeling of being high for the first time, I wanted more and more. I looked at him and asked, “I’m in man, how much does this cost.” He replied, “Nothing, all I want is your time and effort. And i want to see you play football again.” I thought, “ Play football again? how the hell am i going to play football again? My career is done. It’s been done. I’m broken down and washed up.” but for some reason I trusted him. He was genuine and most importantly he saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. So I started coming every single day I could. Looking back I probably cost him more money than any other client he’s ever had. He became a training partner, a mentor, a coach, and a best friend.
Fast forward, 6 months or so give or take, Nashdog Barbell became official when we moved into a warehouse in Youngstown. It was winter, we had no heat and it was fucking freezing. I remember we had a group of guys, in hoodies and sweat pants. Freezing our asses off and throwing weights around with out a care in the world. The family we created was strong and we loved each other and wanted more out of each other everyday. The atmosphere was always “get shit done and bullshit later”. I was drawn to that mentality.
The 500 Club
Chad being the freak of nature he was, created something called “The 500 Club”. This was a title you got to hold once you deadlifted 500lbs. I remember him being the only one in the gym able to do so, so the standard was pretty fucking high for the rest of us. Me being competitive though, I worked everyday towards achieving that title. Short coming after short coming I remember thinking, “this dude is just a freak, there is no way I’m going to be able to pull this shit.” Then one day, a kid in our group named Johnny, a strong kid, set up 500lbs on the bar and he locked that thing out like he was going to die if he didn’t. He was in the club. It was doable. That shit lit my ass up. 2 months later or so, it was cold, still no heat. I remember walking in that day knowing that today was my day. 135-done, 225-done, 315-done, 405-done, 455-done but slow. I felt like shit. Chad looked at me and said “it’s time, let’s fucking go” he turned up the stereo. Hatebreed blaring so loud i couldn’t hear my heart pounding out of chest. “BORN TO BLEED, FIGHTING TO SUCCEED, BUILT TO ENDURE WHAT THIS WORLD THROWS AT ME” These words resonate with me to this day. Everything I had gone through, all the adversity, all the failure. It was time to fucking fight for success. As I throw chalk on my hands and walk up to the bar. I remember gripping the steel. It didn’t seem so cold. I took a deep breath in and ripping that mother fucker off the ground like someone was holding my mother under water and that was the only way to save her. I stood up with 500lbs that day, and they never knew this, but i walked outside and I cried. I cried with the once familiar sense of triumphant success that I had felt long ago. It was at that very moment that, along with many others, but this in particular was when I realized this is who I am and who i want to be. I knew that even if everything in the world went wrong that day, NOTHING could take that title away from me. I earned every pound of that title, through blood, sweat, and tears (literally).
Fast forward. I decided to walk on to Youngstown State later the next year, played a little, got hurt, and decided to hang up the cleats. Same story as before, but this time was different. Football wasn’t my passion any longer. Strength was. Strength is something ONLY YOU can earn. It’s something no one can take from you, and it’s something that you can always fall back on when shit hits the fan. This is my calling, this is who Pat Thompson is. Someone who never takes the easy way, who won’t accept failure, and will triumph over any obstacle placed in his path. I am Pat Thompson and I am proud of being strong.
I’ve told him this in the past, but meeting Chad changed my life. He helped me find myself and nothing I could ever do for him would be enough to pay him back for helping me find that. The “Dog” days were some of the best days of my life and I truly hold them dearly to my heart.