Up And Coming

Up And Coming

An interview with my brother about his most recent MMA victory

Recently, my brother won his second MMA match. To celebrate, I thought I’d interview him and get a better idea of what went into his victory:

Brendan: So Sean, how did it feel to win?

Sean: It felt very good. The kid I fought had three belts, so there’s potential for a rematch for one of those belts, and it was a good feeling.

B: What was your strategy going in, and how did it pan out in the actual fight?

S: The strategy going in was keeping distance and using my cardio to have the second and third round be mine, and being able to outlast him and attack the third round. It worked out good because the first round I set the pace, and in the second round I used my cardio so that in the third round I could tee off on him and clearly prove that it was my win.

B: It was a unanimous decision, but how did waiting for the judges feel?

S: Even after the previous fight being my first fight, looking at the video it was very, very clear that I won, but during the moment of the decision I got nervous, y’know? Knowing that the kid had three belts and was known to be good, I was still nervous. I asked my corner and they said I won. I was still nervous, but when they announced the decision I looked at the kid and he looked like he knew he lost, so that was that. But nothing is for sure with those judges.

B: How much did team training and coaching factor in?

S: A lot. The entire fight leading up I had Corey Colmes, Corey Webster, Tony, Scott, John, all helping me out with pad work, breaking down how the kid fights, Corey was telling me that he’s a counterer and showing me how to counter that. Tony every single day holding pads with me, working out with me, helping me in some way. On fight night, Tony and Corey Webster were my corners, which to begin with was great of them to come out all the way to Syracuse to do that for me. And they were very vocal, I could hear them the whole time, and following their advice was for sure a factor in the win.

B: MMA is a tough sport- any advice for people just starting out?

S: Follow through with it. It’s going to be tricky and discouraging at first if you’re not getting kicks right or throwing punches right you’re going to get a lot of repeated things being told to you by coaches, but if you just stay after practice for ten minutes every time working on it, at a place like Western NY MMA, that’ll help you for sure.

B: Thank you, bro.

And there you have it- the words of a future champion, folks.

Cover Image Credit: A+J's Replica Belts

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.


When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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Sports And Religion

Why are so many athletes religious?


I recently just made it on to the USC Track and Field team, and it is easily the biggest accomplishment I have ever made in my entire life. I worked so hard to physically and mentally prepare to try out for the team, let alone actually make it. I thank God for allowing me to have the chance to be a part of this team, as well as giving me that physical and mental strength required to do so, and I express this whenever someone congratulates me for making the team or even asks if I made it or not. However, I noticed that when I did this, some of the responses were a bit dismissive when I brought religion into the picture. When I said I thank God for it, I would be met with responses like "Yea well even aside from God..." or another response that drew the conversation away from my faith, away from the concept of a god.

In fact, I've noticed that many athletes are religious in some form-- more so collectively than other student bodies aside from religious groups themselves. I thought about why this may be, aside from the obvious answer such as growing up religious at home, because that does not answer the question; many people grew up in a religious household and are not religious themselves. So, I began to think personally. Why do I thank God for my athletic performance? There's a certain level of uncertainty within every sport. All athletes train their hardest to minimize this level of uncertainty, in order to maximize their chances of success. However, you can only train so hard. To me, no matter how hard you train, there's always some type of level of uncertainty to every level of performance: the chances of you getting injured, the chances of you winning your game or race, the chances of the opponent's performance, etc. This is where I think God intervenes, and perhaps other athletes would agree. There have been countless times where I ran well and had absolutely no idea how I did it. Yes, I worked hard to improve my times, but when you are in the moment of a race, or a game, that fades into the background, especially when everyone else has been working just as hard. It's just you, your race (or game), and God. That's it.

I could have not made the team. As a walk-on, there is more pressure for you to perform since the coaches did not seek you out; you sought them out. You are proving your abilities. Thus, I was nervous about my chances of actually making the team, especially considering the fact that the USC track team is arguably the best collegiate track team in the United States. I performed well during my try out and finished all the workouts, however I wasn't as fast as the other girls. In addition, I was 3 minutes late to my last day of tryouts and got chewed out by the coach for it. I was convinced that I blew my chances. And yet, somehow, I made it. I worked so hard for it, yes, but I thank God for keeping my body healthy so I could train to the best of my ability. I thank Him for allowing the coaches to have the time to try me out. I thank Him for allowing them to see my potential. I thank Him for giving me the best high school track coach possible who prepared me mentally and physically, as well as supported me throughout all the highs and all the lows. I thank Him for giving me this chance to continue my track career at the most prestigious collegiate team. My gratitude for all this, is simply infinite.

There is good reason why many athletes are religious; being an athlete requires you to be more than yourself. It requires you to dig deeper, into places that you didn't even think were possible, and really aren't without the belief of a higher power. The belief in a higher power, in whatever form or name that takes, means the belief in infinite possibility. And for an athlete to have that, means nothing can stop them from chasing their dreams.

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