Saturday Spotlight- Cliff Meister

Finally! It’s about freakin’ time!! Ladies and gentlemen, this is not an April Fools Joke!! I am officially the Warrior of the Week!! Thank you Lou! Great honor and a challenging writing assignment for me.

Saturday Spotlight… Here goes! General Specks in no particular order:

Male, fixed-gender, age 50, straight, married (22 years & happy), father of 3 great kids (2b/1g), Civil Servant, Republican (gasp), Aquarius, College Grad- BS in Psychology and Criminal Justice, CSCS, CPT – NSCA (cool letters, right? Google em).

Not enough for you? Okay, here is some more about the early years…

I was born in Patchogue and grew up in Medford. Like some others in this group, I am a graduate of Patchogue- Medford HS – Go Red Raiders!! I lived on Sipp Ave. which, at the time, was half paved and half dirt. Our 3BR ranch sat directly across the street from the gated entrance of an abandoned “rifle range” which offered us kids huge dirt mounds, woods, tunnels, blacktop and general refuge from parental supervision… After we made it passed the barbed wire fence of course.

As a kid, I played mostly unorganized neighborhood sports on the block. A lot of street hockey, backyard football (always tackle), kickball, manhunt and whatever crazy games we thought of. It was usually with bigger kids, which I liked. We flipped a lot of baseball cards then too. “Closest to the Wall”, “10-last” and “colors”are a few I remember. My buddies and I had a sport rivalry w/ the kids on the “back road” who moved in from “the city”. We played hard, sometimes had fights, but it was all good. Many essential kid/ life lessons were learned.

Football: In 8th grade, I decided to try out for the Freshman football team. In hindsight, this decision was rather bold because in 8th grade I weighed about 105 pounds. Tryouts were pretty tough and in the 2nd round of cuts, I was handed my walking papers. Of course, that bummed me out, but I vowed to return next year and show those coaches what I was made of.

So now, visualize my training montage: 13 year old me, in my parents’ unfinished basement, lifting weights, doing pull-ups from the rafters, hitting the heavy-bag, my 8-track tape player blaring the theme of Rocky II, eating raw eggs, running, the whole 9 yards, all in early 80s workout attire, minus the cheesy headband.

Fast forward 1 year. I emerge in dramatic fashion from the depths of the basement a hulking 115 pounds… soaking wet. Slightly less puny, but I was tough and fast and could bench press 185 pounds. I made that damn Freshman team and played football all throughout HS, starting my Senior year as Defensive Tackle at 155 pounds. Good thing I thought I was 220.

Wrestling: I always told myself as a kid that I would never wrestle. Sure, wrestling around with my buddies was a good time, but as a sport? Never! Wrestling was kind of like having an after school fight with an unknown kid several times a week in front of a huge crowd of people. All eyes on you, dressed in a singlet as form fitting as a banana hammock. No pressure. Especially w/ your girlfriend at every match. Shit! Yeah, no pressure.

In 10th grade, our gym teacher, who was also the wrestling coach had us wrestle in gym-class and I somehow managed to pin a kid who was on the wrestling team. Big mistake. The coach took me aside, then talked to my Dad, and before I knew it I was going to wresting practices. Despite a very late start to sport, I made up ground at camps and clinics and managed to win my fair share of matches in the toughest wrestling county in the state. There is a saying that everything in life is easy after you have wrestled. I don’t totally agree with that, but I understand why they say it. It is one tough sport.

More from me on Monday. Thank you for reading.

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