After having a productive week at work and in the gym, I’m totally ready for the weekend. However, tomorrow will be rather busy. After morning training, I’ll be heading down to a city called Visalia to judge another boy’s meet. Visalia is in central California. Here’s a map of my route.
It’ll be about a 3.5 hour drive each way. I don’t think I’ve ever driven that much and back in one day but I think it’ll be good to get my mind off of all the clutter and to get away from the Bay Area for the day. I have a lot of respect for the kids and parents in that area though. I see them coming up to the Bay Area often for competitions. It’s definitely a long drive and takes a ton of dedication. Anyway, I’m ready to get this weekend started!
Just finished another busy weekend of judging a boy’s competition. This time it was up in Sacramento. As always I had a great time meeting a bunch of new people, as well as reconnecting with old friends I used to compete with, judges and parents. One of the highlights this weekend was being able to see Mas Watanabe. In fact, this annual competition held at this gym in Sacramento is named after him: The Mas Watanabe Invitational. For those of you that don’t know who Mas is, he’s been an influential part of USA Gymnastics for a very long time. For a while he served as the National Team Director for the men’s side and has helped with developing the Junior level as well. In fact, he used to come to all of the Junior National Team Camps when I was younger. It’s been way too long since I’ve last seen him (probably about 5 years?), and it was great to see him doing well!
After the meet, I had the chance to catch up with my friend, Aki, over dinner. Like Mas, she came to the US to coach gymnastics. She came over to the US couple of years ago. She’s a former world championship team member for Japan in ’99, and chance had it that she landed a job in Sacramento. It’s always inspiring to see my Japanese friends working so hard. I know it’s not an easy thing to do in a foreign country.
On the way back from judging, I visited one of my best friends, John, near the state capitol. He recently started working for the new governor of California so he moved out to Sacramento not so long ago. Glad to see him doing well and situated at his new place. He even took me on a quick tour of the capitol!
Overall it was a great weekend of seeing good friends! Ready to start this week though. One more week to go until Winter Cup and I’m looking forward to it!
I think it’s fairly common that when life gets busy, events and other things begin to mesh together and life becomes a huge blur. I’m definitely that type of person, but at the same time, there are several days within the year that reminds me to take a moment to pause, look around at the things I have, and appreciate.
One of those days is today, which is also my dad’s birthday. If he was here today, he’d be 51. Thinking now, I realize more and more that we lost a great man too early. After all,the impact he had on the people around him, both in and out of the gym, was tremendous. I’ll admit that we had our share of difficult times when he used to be my coach. There were countless days when I talked back and we threw harsh words at each other. Most days, I saw the gym as a battlefield. Sadly, it’s only now that I genuinely realize that he was stricter with me because he cared, and because he wanted to shape me into a better gymnast, and a stronger person. Honestly, not a day goes by that I don’t think about him, and while things get tough every once in a while, my friends and family have always been there to give me the helping hand or the words of encouragement that I need to get back on my feet. And for that, I wanted to thank everyone once again for all the support and the continual support as I trek on with my journey.
Below is a one of the speeches I gave a couple of years ago (I might’ve already posted it some time ago) expressing my thanks to everyone for all that they’ve done and continue to do for me.
Oh, and one last thing, Happy Birthday Pops!
Last week was fairly eventful for week me. First of all, I got through another hard week of training in the gym. Most of the emphasis was placed on numbers and getting my endurance up. As an athlete, this is one of the most difficult times because you’re dealing with a lot of physical stress and pain. Thankfully I’m done! Starting next week, my focus will be on less numbers but higher quality. This will definitely help take some of the physical load off of my body and help me recover while I strengthen my mental side.
The exciting outside of the gym, was I reconnected with a friend that I haven’t seen in about 15 years! We go way back to elementary school but lost touch when my friend had to move away after the 5th grade. Thank goodness for Facebook though! We randomly reconnected recently and was able to catch up with all that’s happened in the last 15 years! When you think about it, that’s a pretty long blank so obviously that was pretty exciting for the both of us!
Another exciting thing this week was my old teammate, Dylan, decided to visit the bay area for the weekend. It’s always fun hanging out with old teammates and hearing about all that’s new in their lives. It’s great because I get a glimpse of what it’s like to be out working or getting a graduate degree because most of my old teammates from college are no longer gymnasts. Anyway, Dylan is currently going to medical school and will eventually be saving thousands of lives. With all the cool things that my old teammates are doing right now, I really can’t wait to see where we all end up in a couple of years!
One of the ways that I know that it’s the new year is when I realize that competition season has begun. The only big difference is, unlike previous years when I was still competing for Stanford, I personally will not be competing as much. This is because for all the non-collegiate gymnasts, there are only a select few meets per year. On the other hand, the college guys compete almost every weekend, whether it be for dual meets, or a bigger invitational where more than two teams will go against each other. I like the fact that I get some time off in between meets to recover and get strong again, but at the same time, I slightly miss traveling to a different location every weekend and competing with my teammates.
Speaking of competitions, I just got back from judging a junior-level competition yesterday. It was my first judging assignment for this season so it was great to see all the gymnasts and the coaches again. With training and work in full swing, and a couple of judging assignments here and there, the next couple of months will be fairly busy. However, I’m definitely looking forward to all the events that are coming up.
Not much here aside from wanting to wish everyone a happy new year! I also wanted to thank everyone for their continued support with my gymnastics and beyond!
Today I spent my time relaxing at home and eating a lot of good food. I’ll leave off with a few pictures of the traditional Japanese food we always have for new years. I’ll definitely need to work extra hard come Monday to burn off all the food I ate!