Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
June 4, 2018
As the heat index here in Tucson starts to constantly hit the triple digits and thus begin the long five month hell that is “hot” summer (as opposed to the rest of the year known as “mildly hot summer” and “liveable summer”), we are getting into the final portions of two of the biggest sports in the league. The NBA finals and the NHL finals always go off at the same time, and have at least tried in the past years to make sure they do not double up on nights when they play. Sure, they may not have a lot of crossover, but if you do like both sports then it is the perfect time to get your beer on and enjoy some time at a bar or at home. Personally I am not all that interested in the NBA finals because we have seen this match-up before, and we know the league is crooked and will stretch this sucker out as long as humanly possible. Thus, this year’s NHL final has the leg up, because you have a team that is a perennial choker in Washington with an overrated player in Alex Ovechkin (for you NBA fans, the Allen Iverson of hockey) and you have the expansion team Las Vegas Golden Knights, which people are already dubbing the greatest expansion team ever (which is also not true….just yet). Right now, the personal is what gets noticed, and people tend to focus on the superstars. This is when legacies are built and nicknames are created. Either way, rather than talk about fitness, I will share some of the personal best moments of “absolute badassery.” Some are extremely tight to me because I witnessed them first hand, so I hope you enjoy. Each story has a lesson to it as well.
FERNANDO “FERN” TONELLA
In high school, I covered sports for the school paper and thus heard about him during my senior year. A bench warmer during my senior year, he didn’t get much time on what was arguable the best team my old high school basketball team Salpointe Catholic ever fielded. The next season was supposed to be a rebuilding year, but this guy was tenacious. He led the team in scoring and was an unflappable point guard that led the second best team in school history despite a completely different roster. Anyway, in the 1997 championship game, Salpointe was getting rocked by Phoenix school Carl Hayden, the eventual state champion. It was clear my old school was overmatched and if it wasn’t for Carl Hayden’s horrendous foul shooting (Salpointe had four or five players foul out!), it would have never been close. Anyway, with the game on the line he got fouled shooting a three….if he missed a free throw….game over. He sunk all three and sent the game into overtime. They ultimately lost 80-75 after Tonella himself fouled out, but he still led all scorers with 30 points. While a lot of people have forgotten this it stuck with me because of the narrative. When it is your time to shine and step up…run with it. A guy that barely averaged a point the previous season followed up with an all-city campaign. Not bad and mad respect.
Judging by the hate mail, this young woman struck a chord with people when I worked at the Tucson Citizen in 2000. Maya was an ace pitcher for Desert View High School’s softball team and led her team to the school’s first state title….in any sport. The controversy? She was an underaged, unwed mother and had a child during her junior year. Maya did go back to high school and finish unlike many that would have been stuck in her situation. Depending on who you talk to, she was contemplating on giving up softball just to finish school and focus on her baby. But she decided to do both, and her team thanked her since she won 23 of their 25 games and pitched a gem in the finals. She had the pressure of motherhood and team on her shoulders, but a supposed feel good story turned into a racist, classist shitshow with certain people. “Why are you praising this nasty slut?” There was some gross stuff that only the sports staff was privy to but it made us shake our heads. We didn’t print any of that crap but she was aware of it at least. Trust me, back in those days, the media did a lot of favors for people by protecting people from themselves. I can only imagine what would have happened if social media had been around. She would easily have gone viral. So look at it this way…she had to finish school, be a mom and also pretty much be the single most important player for her team. And the cool thing is she wasn’t cocky about it, for she profusely thanked her family and friends for helping her realize the dream. She didn’t play in college despite having some decent talent, which means that was her last dance…pretty cool if you ask me.
Most people only know Tedy Bruschi as that linebacker that played forever for the New England Patriots and an occasional color analyst. For people in Tucson, Arizona….the guy is a flat out legend. I will seriously give an oratory to anyone that does not know who he is, for he is one of my fav football players of all time. He was an undersized defensive end at Arizona that led arguably the greatest defense in NCAA history, the “Desert Swarm.” He has survived a lot in his career…converting to linebacker, New England winters, a full on stroke (and coming back a few weeks later!) and Bill Bellichick. People in Tucson loved him, especially the Latino population because we all thought he was Mexican when he really was just a well tanned Italian guy. I do not care what the so called NCAA stats say, he shares a spot as the all-time sack leader in history. You see, the NCAA didn’t “officially” make sacks a stat until the year 2000. So at the moment, dirty Arizona State alum Terrell Suggs is the leader with 44. Anyway, Bruschi’s senior season at Arizona in 1995 was forgettable. Arizona was bad, and the only thing that could save the season was to beat Arizona State. The Scum Devils were looking to get into a bowl game with a win, but Bruschi would take none of that. He recorded 2.5 sacks in his final game, getting the last one on the last play of his career, tying Derrick Thomas as the all-time leader with 52. Let me remind you, the NCAA only used regular season sacks as the tally at that time, so he did this in roughly 41 games. So here is the lesson about that season. Arizona was bad but he played hard on every stinking play, tallying 14.5 sacks in a non bowl game season (which was hard to earn back in those days). This moxie got him drafted, led to three Super Bowl wins and trust me, just about any true Patriots fan (and not those bandwagons that jumped on the last ten years or so) will start waxing poetic about him. A blue collar hero for sure and he always stepped up even when things looked grim. That is the kind of lesson you need to take from this. Plus, screw Arizona State.
Okay, people are gonna get triggered by this one but who cares. I control the content damn it! Anyway, Eli is a pretty polarizing figure in the history of sports, but when you are down in the fourth quarter in the Super Bowl, do you choose him or Tom Brady? Seriously, this is a real question. Eli stepped it up in the fourth quarter in 2008, becoming the first quarterback in Super Bowl history to toss two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. People will only remember the great David Tyree catch, but Eli had to get away from a bunch of behemoths and chuck that ball nearly 40 yards down field. And plus, the final play of that drive is still one of the most perfectly thrown passes in Super Bowl history. Let’s not forget a clutch third-down pass he made to Steve Smith on that same drive as well! I mean, that entire drive was just clutch. We then have the 2012 Super Bowl. The guy hit 75% of his passes in that game and led another late game comeback. Trust me world, you should be thanking this man. If you think the pro-Patriots nonsense is bad right now, imagine if they had won those two games. The bandwagon would be stuck in the mud right now, incapable of being dug out and would be ten times more annoying than the Red Sox, Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers, Cowboys and Steelers bandwagons combined. On behalf of Manning, you are welcome.
THE LONGEST TENNIS MATCH EVER
John Isner and Nicolas Mahut are by now means household names in the world of tennis. Neither have ever won a major and will have relatively quiet recollections about their careers. Both are incredible doubles players, not very good in individual. But in 2010, they played a match that lasted over 11 hours over the course of three days. https://youtu.be/aVx0jZ6wM60You see, in the final set at Wimbledon, the scoring goes until someone wins by two points. No tie breakers or anything. So needless to say, these two went at it in the fifth and final set. Inner ultimately won the match when he sent a forearm winner up the line, winning the set 70-68. This was one of the few times I was able to keep up with this kind of match due to the hours I worked. It was unreal. Due to the scheduling problems and the lack of lights at Wimbledon, they kept scheduling these guys late in the day. The entire tournament was haywire. And here is the biggest kicker. Despite these guys being no names…this was only the first round. Neither player gave up even though they probably knew they might be a sacrificial lamb in the next round. Yet they created cool little sports soap opera that not only questioned Wimbledon’s current rules but also stirred up questions of valor…that a first round match-up was so important to these guys that they were threatening their potential performance for the rest of the tournament. Isner got ousted easily in the next round and Mahut had to pull out of the doubles competition, but their names will live forever due to this match. And that is the lesson…play like it is the most important match of your life.
THE 2001 ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
In part with the Arizona theme, was there a more forgotten champion in the history of sports? Chalked full of old guys desperate for a championship, the Diamondbacks benefitted from a weak NL West Division and even then, were overshadowed by Barry Bond’s march to the single season homer record. They had a former broadcaster as their manager and a fan base that was still discovering they had a pro baseball team in their city. You see, the issue with Arizona is there are hardly any true “Arizonans,” so many of the people in the state come from somewhere else. When the Diamondbacks played the Cubs in the playoffs one year, more Cubs fans were in the stands than Diamondbacks fans. I saw this first hand at a regular season game once, and almost caught a home run in that game. Anyway, we got a guy kicked out because he grabbed the ball from a little kid and in Cubs tradition, threw the ball toward the field. The guy was not only too weak to throw the ball back on the field, he was shouting “Cubs!” when we snitched on his ass and got him kicked out. Trust me, do not steal a ball from a kid…we will get your ass thrown out. Anyway, the D’Backs made it to the World Series, and it was against the worst opponent possible…the New York Yankees. The 9/11 Attack happened weeks earlier so everyone had a pro-New York fever and the D’Backs were a bunch of imposters, barely in their fourth year of existence. But let me tell you, the Diamondbacks were the best expansion team in history at that time. Three consecutive winning seasons (along with three playoff appearances at that point with the best pitcher on the planet on the roster (Randy Johnson!) Game 7 of the World Series was the stuff of legends. A past his prime Mark Grace (more known for his drunken shenanigans these days) started a rally in the bottom of the ninth as Arizona was down 2-1. They manufactured a run and ended an impressive saves streak by Yankees all-timer Mariano Rivera. And to top it off, Luis Gonzalez ended the series with a walk off single, making it the first ever title in Arizona sports history. https://youtu.be/gNt3UuDTBz8The Diamondbacks eventually became regarded as the second best pro-team in the state as the women’s pro basketball team Phoenix Mercury became a championship powerhouse. But that series….damn. They broke the team up mainly because the old guys retired and the team sold off their top assets, but hey it was still an impressive run. Old guys uniting to beat an unstoppable force. Gotta love it.
Since UCLA is just a derivative joke these days in regards to college basketball, I can look back a little more fondly on this one. Tyus Edney had one of the best if not the best buzzer beater in history. While the 90s was pretty vicious between Arizona and UCLA, I can look back at that moment against Missouri in the 1995 NCAA tournament and still marvel. Edney had a bad reputation in Arizona, for he was the anti-christ that ended one of the greatest home court winning streaks in NCAA history with a game winning shot, stopping Arizona’s 71-game streak that could have gone on for another 20 or so more games if not for that blip in 1992. I mean, not even powerhouses like Duke could beat Arizona at home in those days. Anyway, that full court sprint in less than five seconds around two guys and then shooting over a power forward for the win is still one of the craziest moments I had ever seen on television. https://youtu.be/pHceOvR464sTo me, that still ranks up there with all of the nuttiest shots I have seen since. Think about it…without that miracle play, UCLA would not have won the NCAA championship. It was a wake-up call for a team that believed they were better than anyone else until the blue collared Tigers knocked the “rich kid” Bruins to the canvas a few times. UCLA straightened itself up and no other team could match them. A high powered UCONN team couldn’t keep up. Big Country Bryant Reeves couldn’t save Oklahoma State and even with Edney down due to an ankle injury, the Bruins smacked the defending champion Arkansas Razorbacks 89-78. Edney was also barely 5-9. So yeah, let this be a reminder that no matter how small you are, your importance will always be measured in how you help and inspire your team.
2006 GEORGE MASON BASKETBALL TEAM
This past year in the NCAA tournament had a couple of wild stories, starting with the Loyola Chicago basketball team making it to the Final Four as an 11 seed. Throw in the 16th-seeded Maryland-Baltimore County winning and you have a good tourney. People called Loyola’s run as the greatest Cinderella story to date, but in true meme fashion, I tell history to hold my beer. Barely 12 years ago, George Mason made it to the Final Four as an 11 seed. https://youtu.be/4CgKXghsM0QIt is only fitting that this team is forgotten, for many people tend to forget the real George Mason in US history. A staunch individualist, Mason believed in the rights of the individual and didn’t like the ill-defined powers that were being granted to the government in the early drafts of the Bill of Rights. His influence helped Jefferson immensely and his ideas are a true foundation. He is controversial of course, for he owned slaves despite saying he despised slavery (which was typical for our slave holding leaders at the time…speak out against something but benefit at the same time). Anyway, George Mason is probably the greatest head scratcher in NCAA tournament history. They had a great interior scoring game, despite having no starters over 6-7. They didn’t play a gimmicky four guard offense like Loyola did and they didn’t rely on three buzzer beaters to advance. Not to mention these guys played some nasty defense against a tougher run of opponents, and the only team that stopped them was the eventual national champion Florida. They were ugly to watch at times but they held tall at the end of games, leaving teams in a scramble to tie the game. That is a true cinderella in my mind, for they set their own destiny rather than relying on a diluted playing field and some lucky bounces.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…MY OWN CLUTCH MOMENT (?)
Back in 2013, I was still in the infancy of my fitness journey. I had barely started doing something called “running” and was not terribly good at it. But Jon wanted me to step in and help out with a volunteer spot for his Ragnar Del Sol relay team, which was an adventure all its own. Anyway, at one point during the 200-mile relay, we had a runner get injured. There was some squabbling and some interpretation of rules going back and forth, but the situation was clear. I was going have to run a leg. Initially our team captain was being literal about the rules, but ultimately Jon talked her out of it and thus I needed to run a 4.2-mile run in the middle of the day. I had barely run further than three miles at that point and never in the middle of the day like that. So, I stepped up. Now of course I was too pumped up and ran way too fast on the first half of the run, I did at least finish the 4.2-mile run standing. I was cramping, hot, and really tired. I had not slept well at this race and was not physically prepared to run a 9.30-minute miles. The next year I ran a full race and did pretty well in the process, and to this day still love the relay races. When I get my running back, I will definitely do another. Until then, we shall see.
So there you have it. I know there are others but let’s not stick too much to the obvious. You can only marvel and discuss certain things for too long.
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About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.