An Olympic dream at hand: The Athletes’ Journal | Drew #1
I play a sport you’ve probably never heard of.
Well, maybe you played it in middle school gym class or at summer camp. But I bet you had no idea that Team Handball is an Olympic sport, or that it’s one of the three most popular sports in Europe.
I usually describe handball as the best elements of basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and hockey combined into a ridiculously high-scoring and physical 7-on-7 game. Go check out handball highlights on YouTube and I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Just about every goal looks like it belongs on the SportsCenter Top 10 list. I don’t think anyone could watch a handball match and not be at least interested in trying it out — the only problem is that most Americans have no clue it exists.
HOW I STARTED
I got my first shot at playing handball in 2015 when I found Boston Team Handball, a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Northeast Development League. I went all-in right from the start. Watching Olympic matches had motivated me to try handball, sure, but deep down I knew there was more to it than that. I didn’t just want to try it, I wanted to be an Olympian myself. My dream was, and still is, is to represent my country and play handball on the world’s biggest sports stage — as a U.S. Olympic athlete.
My Olympic dream is what led me to TB12™ last fall. I found out early in my handball career that I had the raw physical skillset I needed to play the game at a competitive level. My coaches loved the combination of speed, strength, and jumping-ability I had, but I needed to put all the pieces together. I played 13 seasons of travel ice hockey growing up in addition to countless seasons of baseball and high school basketball, but I had never thought of myself as an “elite” athlete. As you’re about to see, I wasn’t treating myself like an elite athlete either. Growing up, I had developed some career-limiting habits that were starting to resurface and take a toll on me as my handball aspirations started taking off.
MY ROUTINE PRE-TB12
I had friends and family who joked for YEARS about how I “ate like a 12-year-old,” and they weren’t wrong. All throughout high school and my early college years, my diet was a problem. I wasn’t aware of how the food I was putting into my body was impacting my overall athletic performance and recovery. I was eating carb-loaded sandwiches with processed meats every day, drinking two glasses of whole milk with dinner, and reaching for junk foods to quell my appetite way too often. There was no balance at all in what I was eating — no diversity and not nearly enough fruits or veggies. I honestly never really questioned this diet, mainly because I was constantly active and didn’t gain any weight, but I started to feel like my performance was constrained by my poor eating habits during my first handball season. I knew I couldn’t sustain a diet like that if I ever wanted to be an Olympic athlete.
The same goes for some of my other habits. Like too many other college kids, I wasn’t sleeping nearly as much as I needed to. I found myself staying up past 1 am during the week and then getting up early for 9 am classes. I was sluggish and never really felt like I had enough energy to perform at my best by the time I got to my 7:30 pm handball practices. I was working out four or five days a week too, but I was starting to worry that what I was doing in the weight room wasn’t translating into success on the handball court. My throwing shoulder was constantly sore from the combination of practices and lifting, and my body just wasn’t holding up to the rigors of handball the way I needed it to. I kept spraining my ankles and suffering other muscle tweaks and pulls, and I knew I couldn’t afford to miss practices or games.
I NEEDED A CHANGE
I realized I had to make a change, but I wasn’t sure where to start. I’d used personal trainers in the past with some success, but I just wasn’t convinced that personal training was what I needed. I knew I had to change not only the way I trained, but also how I ate, recovered, slept, and even thought, in order to make my dream a reality. No personal trainer or nutritionist alone was going to help me do all that. I started to realize that I needed to find something more holistic in order to see the all-around results I was looking for.
The TB12 Method was everything I needed; I just didn’t know it yet.
WHAT I USED TO THINK
Like most diehard Patriots fans, I had somewhat of a general sense of what Tom Brady’s training regimen looked like. I thought it was insane. I didn’t know many of the details, but the terms I had heard, like “pliability”, “plant-based eating”, and “no-load strength training”, raised a lot of questions in my mind. My approach to sports training was always to lift weights and run. I just assumed that injuries were going to happen regardless of how I trained or nourished my body, so I dealt with them whenever they popped up. Nobody ever told me differently. I think it’s just too easy for athletes to accept that traditional method as being “right” without considering any alternatives. The TB12 Method challenged everything I had been taught about fitness and conditioning, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that.
RESEARCHING THE TB12 METHOD
Around the time I was going through my sports-related existential crisis, I started to look into the TB12 Method a little more. I watched a 38-year-old Tom Brady shred the NFL’s best defense to win his 4th Super Bowl, and couldn’t help but think of the training he had to put in to ensure that he could perform at that level both physically and mentally. I started to realize that no matter how outside the norm I thought it was, the TB12 Method clearly worked for Tom and could have massive benefits for me too. The more I read about it, the more open-minded I became about taking that leap outside of my comfort zone and challenging my beliefs and myself by trying out the TB12 Method.
Everything came together perfectly for me last October, when I saw an Instagram post that caught my attention immediately. It was a photo posted by the TB12 Sports Therapy Center explaining that thanks to a recent expansion, they were taking on new clients and were looking for athletes to train at the facility. (Today, they’re always taking new clients!)
I called as soon as I saw the photo.
WHAT I KNOW NOW
I probably terrified the person on the other end of the phone call with how ridiculously excited I was when I found out I’d be able to come in for a session. Something about the timing of it felt like fate to me. It was the opportunity I had been waiting for.
I’m now a year into my training at the TB12 Sports Therapy Center. Since my first session, I’ve completely changed the way I eat, train, and recover. I have been named to the USA Under-21 National Handball Team, and played in the USA Team Handball National Championship game, but beyond that, I just FEEL great. I’m in a much better place, physically and mentally, than I have ever been before, and I’m seeing the results of the TB12 Method in a big way through my on-court performance.
Naturally, people who’ve witnessed my growth over the last year have a lot of questions for me about my experience with TB12. That’s what this journal is all about. I’ll be taking you through my everyday life as a TB12 athlete in the hopes that my experiences inspire you to pursue your own version of sustained peak performance.
Thanks for checking out the first entry in my journal! I can’t wait to continue to share my story, struggles, and accomplishments with you as we each work to achieve our own version of sustained peak performance through the TB12 Method. Read more Athletes’ Journals like this before anyone else on the TB12 Method mobile app!