It’s me or him…

This was really the saying that changed my competitive mindset. I was in 7th grade and we were in the middle of our junior high wrestling practice. Bryon Hoffman was our coach at the time. He is one of the most fiery guys you have ever met. He might have had the biggest impact on my career our of anyone. He really had a lot of influence on my style of wrestling.

Alexander Karelin

Anyway, it was at practice and he kept yelling “It’s either you or him. YOU or him. IT’S YOU OR HIM.” I was complaining and moaning because he was rotating guys in on me…meaning I never got a break and the 3 guys he rotated in on me always came in fresh. So I was getting beat by my friends because I was so tired and they were getting a rest.

So he asked “WHY ISN’T IT YOU???” Why isn’t it you? He is the type of guy that when he looks at you you think he is going to cry because he is so intense…Just a scary guy.

I said “because I’m f’ing tired.”

His reply was “Winners find ways to win while losers make excuses. You just think you’re tired.”

I was all worked up and crying during practice…I thought coach was being too hard on me and blah blah blah. So I told the story to my dad.

My dad’s exact reply was “If it’s you or him, why isn’t it you? You lift weights every morning, you ran with me all summer, and you say you practice harder than anybody. So why isn’t it you? You just don’t believe in yourself. If you work harder you deserve it.”

Muhammad Ali

Looking back- that was 9 years ago. But I remember the entire sequence like it was yesterday. It shaped the way I viewed it. You have to ask yourself WHY it is you that is losing. Why aren’t you winning? Chances are it is simply because you don’t believe in yourself. I had no reason to think I shouldn’t win. Yet, I didn’t expect to win. I didn’t think anyone was working harder than me, yet, I still was losing. From that moment on I expected to win- because I thought I deserved to.

This carries over to every sport, not just wrestling. Why aren’t you winning in basketball, football, golf, baseball, weightlifting? Do you want to blame it on coaching? Do you want to blame it on your teammates? Instead, look at yourself and see what you can do to ensure it is you that is winning. Bring your teammates with you.

Why isn’t it you? Lack of work ethic? Or is it a lack of belief in yourself?

“True champions believe in themselves even when nobody else will.”

Make it YOU


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