Competition it fuels me. Does it fuel you?

Jamie Hantke - October 24, 2017

From the first time you step onto a field, “competition” becomes ingrained in your head. I remember it clearly -- I was six years old, playing t-ball for Valley Little League. We were playing a pick-up game. When choosing teams, I told my cousins I didn’t want to play with them -- they weren’t that good at the game. I’ll never forget what my dad had to say about that. Even at 6, that fire was always there to compete, win or lose. At 12, the first Championship banner in my life was won in baseball at Valley.

Competition fueled me all through middle and high school. There wasn’t a day I wasn’t playing something throughout school -- soccer, wrestling, volleyball, or my sport of choice, lacrosse. I was so competitive in gym class that I got into a fight because I accidentally clipped a kid while playing floor hockey. That was another day of In School Suspension for that. Once I made it to high school, it was football: the sport I came to love. The need for competition fueled me through school.

Football was always the thing that kept me centered. Winning sectional championships in the Carrier Dome will be something I never forget. That’s when the competitive nature really started to burn. Losing wasn’t anything I even considered. We lost a total of six games in high school football -- but as you get older, you take losing a lot differently. I wore those losses on my sleeve and still do -- we had amazing teams. As you move into college, competition is more prevalent. Ever single rep you take in practice, each snap - it’s nothing but competition. You either win or lose, but with each rep you make yourself better.

After college, my next step was semi-pro. If you know about it or have played, you should probably take the word “pro” out -- it’s more of a beer league for football, but it’s still football. I would make sure my jobs would line up to my practice and game schedule. My first year, we went 1-9, I couldn’t even believe how bad some of these guys were. How could you not compete? How the hell could you just be OK with sucking? Playing bad because you aren’t athletic is one thing, but to not even try hard after you start losing is beyond me. To this day, I’ll never understand it. With time and better players, we won a league title in ‘03 and national title in ‘04. It was an amazing time in my life.

Fast forward to 2013: married, two kids, owned a home. Life was great, right? But in 2012, I lived the up and down of weight gain and loss, like most everyone else. It hit its peak in 2013: 480-ish pounds. Couldn’t walk up stairs without breathing heavy, couldn’t tie my own sneakers. I lost that competition vibe for no other reason but my own mindset. I finally started a diet that worked, starting training and my wife joined me. We ended up at a gym and found a great group of people dabbling in Strongman in late 2014 and that like a spark, that competitive fire burned once again.

My first competition was in 2015, and once again, I was in love with not only a sport, but with a group of people who were all willing to push themselves to another level. Men and women alike, it didn’t really matter -- let’s just get better and have fun doing it.

Thing have changed over the last couple years of competition and promoting Strongman, but one thing is for sure. That competitive fire died a little bit for a couple years, but it’s returned and is burning brighter and stronger than it ever has before.