Tag Archives: Chad Ullom

The Dreaded “Participation” Award

by Thom Van Vleck

Every so often I have this same conversation with Al Myers and Chad Ullom.  Since Al and I are pretty conservative and Chad went to the University of Kansas (the liberal bastion of the midwest) Chad likes to make fun of the fact that Al and I give out participation awards.  The way Chad sees it is that as conservative guys we should believe in “you get what you earn” and that “only winners get awards”.   This goes all the way to how they don’t keep scores in youth sports then everyone gets a trophy at the end of the season.  “Everyone is a winner” mentality that some think is leading to the downfall of America.

Now I’m picking on Chad a bit.  He’s not really that liberal…at least for a guy that went to KU!  But I think he does see it as contradictory that Al and I would believe in the idea you get what you earn then turn around and hand out awards to everyone.  The reality is I DON’T HAND OUT AWARDS TO EVERYONE! I never will!  You do get what you earn.  I also believe in keeping score, winners AND losers, and competition is healthy in all aspects of life.

So how do I believe in all those things and hand out awards to seemingly everyone that comes to my meets?  Here’s how I look at it.  When I went to boot camp we started with over 80 in my platoon.  We ended up graduating 66.  We lost almost 20 guys!  They got booted out along the way.  Some flat out quit, some got booted for not being good enough, I know blew out his knee and was saying he might not recover enough to come back.  In the end those that completed the task won the prize:  The honor of being called a United States Marine!

We also had a “Top Marine” award.  The award went to the guy that did the best.  We had a guy Levier.  He was the “Honorman” and his award was a meritorious promotion to Lance Corporal, a plaque, and a set of dress blues.  At that time you didn’t get dress blues out of bootcamp.  You had to buy your own unless you were assigned to a position where wearing the dress blues was part of your job, like and embassy guard.  So it was a pretty nice award.

The point is you had the “Overall” winner who was number one getting the top prize.  Then you had those that passed the test.  They had worked hard and accomplished what others didn’t dare to do or were unable to do for whatever reason.  They were all awarded the title of “Marine”.  I guess that’s how I feel about those that do what others won’t.  They go to the gym, work hard, then have the guts to sign the dotted line and then show up and put it all out there for everyone to see.  I would never give an award to someone who didn’t show up (and yes, I had someone ask for an award that didn’t show…..seemed to think his entry fee entitled him).  I also only give out ONE award that says “First Place” on it.  You better earn it by beating someone.  A few years back I had only one person show up for a class.  They wanted the first place award I had already made for that group…..NO WAY.  Sorry, but you didn’t win because you didn’t beat anyone. So make fun of me if you want.  I will continue to award those that choose to succeed.

Now, I’m going to take this one step further.  I think we have become a nation so obsessed with winning and being number one being the only acceptable outcome we are becoming a nation of drop outs or “never even tried’s”. I recently talked to someone who runs the amateur and pro strongman meets in the USA.  She told me that the number of women competitors has quadrupled in the past few years and she thinks eventually there will be more women than men competing in Strongman.  What are we going to do when that happens?  Change the name to “Strongwoman”?

The reason she gave is one I think is completely true.  She said that guys come in and if they can’t win, they won’t try.  They also fear embarrassment and if there’s one event that will make them look bad they won’t try.  The women, on the other hand, are ready, willing and able to risk failure for the chance at success.  They haven’t been indoctrinated to believe that winning is the only thing in live.  Personal success is their focus.  They check their ego’s at the door.

So, there you have it.  I hand out awards to everyone that completes the task.  You win when you work hard and finish the game regardless of who else showed up and how they did that particular day.    I have a lot of admiration for the guy that sets several Personal Bests over the guy that “mails it in” and wins.  So,  the only participation awards I hand out are those that participated in being successful.

Dino Gym Challenge

by Thom Van Vleck

2015 DINO GYM CHALLENGE

Group picture from the 2015 Dino Gym Challenge - (front left to right): Kyle Jones, Chad Ullom, Eric Todd, Lance Foster, (back left to right): LaVerne Myers, Dave Glasgow, Dean Ross, Thom Van Vleck

The Dino Gym Challenge was held at the Dino Gym near Abilene, Kansas on January 17, 2015. Meet director Al Myers has held this meet the 3rd weekend in January for some time and I believe I’ve attended most of them. Every year Al comes up with a new challenge and this year his focus was the deadlift. There were five lifts contested and six lifters showed to test themselves against the iron.

The first lift was the Deadlift-Ciavattone Grip with the Fulton Bar. This lift can be very humbling as the Ciavattone grip is a double overhand grip with no hooking allowed. The deciding factor is the grip and having a Fulton bar that is 2 inches in diameter just adds to the difficulty. Two time Highland Games Masters World Champion Dean Ross was the oldest competitor present. He pulled in 203 pounds. He was matched by Lance Foster. Eric Todd made a 256lb pull. Eric just turned 40 so he’s now in the master’s class. Newcomer Kyle Jones, who has been training with Al Myers recently, pulled 276lbs. Kyle is 27 years old and recently out of the Army. He was matched by Dave Glasgow who was more than twice Kyle’s age. Both pulled 276lbs. Chad Ullom was the only lifter to get more than 300lbs. He finished a nice pull of 323lbs.

The next lift was the one hand deadlift. Everyone went right handed on this lift. Dean Ross got things started with a 164lb effort. Lance and Kyle tied with 242lbs. Dave Glasgow pushed the bar over 300lbs with a nice 314lb effort. Eric Todd pulled 363lbs. Normally this would wind most meets but Chad Ullom really excels at this event and he when over the 400lb barrier with a 418lb pull. Chad one one more pull left and he chose to go to a record 453lbs! Everyone was pretty excited to see this feat and it got pretty loud as Chad pulled the bar to the finish position. He basically had the lift completed, then disaster struck. Chad said later he thought the bar was slipping out. It wasn’t the bar slipping….it was Chad’s skin tearing away from his hand! As the bar popped out and dropped back to earth a flap of skin shot across the platform. It was pretty ugly, but Chad taped it up and the meet continued. I think everyone there took a photo of his hand and it was soon all over social media. Everyone likes a good train wreck!

The Third lift was the Deadlift, no thumbs, overhand grip. Dave Glasgow ended up missing his opener. Dean was next out at 253lbs and Lance Foster ended with 303lbs. Eric Todd was next at 325lbs and Kyle made 369lbs. Chad Ullom was the only lifter to make it to 400 with a nice 402lber. Considering his right hand was taped and the damage done, I was impressed he could pull anything at all.

The fourth lift was the Deadlift, Ciavattone Grip. This time Lance was the first out with a 297lb pull. He was followed by Dean Ross at 314lbs. Eric Todd had 347lbs while Dave Glasgow matched the youngster Kyle Jones at 374lbs. Chad Ullom waited everyone out before even starting his pulls and eventually hit the meet best at 467lbs.

Chad Ullom pulling a new USAWA record in the Heels Together Deadlift at 551 pounds.

The last lift was the Deadlift, heels together. This lift was sure to produce the heaviest poundage lifted for the day. It also, in my opinion, produced a couple of the best efforts of the day. Dean got us started with a 242lb lift with Lance pulling 352lbs. Eric Todd pulled 402lbs. Then Dave Glasgow called for 418lbs. He missed it and called for it on his third attempt. He had such a tough miss I think most of us thought this would be a really tough lift. It was as tough lift, but Dave pulled it through nicely! Kyle Jones finished his first every USAWA meet with a 452lb pull. Hopefully we’ll see more of him. I know he had much more in the tank but he had never even seen some of the lifts, let alone practiced them. Oh…wait, I almost forgot! Chad Ullom called for 551lbs for his final attempt. He pulled it so cleanly that he honestly made it look easy…..making it one of the best efforts of the day along with Dave’s comeback third attempt.

Once the points were tabulated the top three included Eric Todd (3rd), Kyle Jones (2nd) and Chad Ullom (1st). Dave Glasgow might have given Chad a run for his money had he not bombed on one of the lifts. I know he certainly would have been 2nd. Dave looked as strong as I’ve seen him in years! Overall, we had a great day for lifting and it seemed to me that everyone had fun. Other than Chad’s skin tear there were no injuries.

Al Myers was the meet director, I was the scorekeeper and announcer, while Laverne Myers was the judge (single judge system). The lifters all took turns helping load. After the meet we all hung around telling some stories. That is one of my favorite things, the “after meet glow”. It looks like we have several meets coming up but this was a nice start to the new year.

MEET RESULTS:

Dino Gym Challenge
Dino Gym, Abilene, Kansas
Saturday, January 17th, 2014

Meet Director: Al Myers

Official (1-Official System Used): LaVerne Myers

Scorekeeper: Thom Van Vleck

Lifts: Deadlift – Fulton Bar, Ciavattone Grip, Deadlift – One Arm, Deadlift – No Thumbs, Overhand Grip, Deadlift – Ciavattone Grip, Deadlift – Heels Together

LIFTER AGE BWT DL-FBCG DL-1 DL-NTOH DL-CG DL-HT TOT PTS
Chad Ullom 43 255 323 418-R 402 467 551 2161 1765
Kyle Jones 27 244 276 242-R 369 374 452 1713 1376
Eric Todd 40 263 256 363-R 325 347 402 1693 1322
Dave Glasgow 61 261 276 314-R 0 374 418 1382 1309
Dean Ross 72 260 203 164-R 253 314 242 1176 1216
Lance Foster 49 323 203 242-R 303 297 352 1397 1077

NOTES: All lifts recorded in pounds. AGE is age in years. BWT is bodyweight in pounds. TOT is total pounds lifted.  PTS are adjusted points corrected for age and bodyweight.

Are you feeling Slunk?

by Thom Van Vleck

Slunk [sluhngk]

Adjective

1.  Being in a temporary state where one’s mental and physical abilities are impaired by a lack of sleep achieving a similar state to being drunk.

Every year there are new words added to the dictionary. This past year words like “Crap Shoot” and “Demonizing” were added among several HUNDRED others.  While the unabridged dictionary just keeps adding new words the concise versions have to trim words to keep balanced.  Recent words removed included “Video Jockey” and “Cassette Player”.  Some words once commonly used are rarely used and there are words that have been commonly used that are still not in the dictionary at all.  They all have something in common and that is someone, somewhere, had to make up a word to describe a feeling or situation.  That word either caught on or disappeared from our lexicon.

For years my Mom has made up words when her vocabulary has been lacking.  This has been amusing to me and my brother.  One of her words is “Befaffeldated” that means she was very confused and surprised.  I assume she meant befuddled and exasperated then kind of slammed these words together.  She has also used a word I’ve learned is being considered for the Oxford dictionary but didn’t quite make the cut…..yet.  That word is  “Slickery” and means that there are slippery conditions outside.   Again, I think she slammed “Slick” and “Slippery” together and I thought for a long time it was just another one her made up words.  Maybe she invented that word and now it has spread across the English speaking world and my achieve “real” word status by being included in the dictionary like other great made up words such as “Humongous” or “Ginormous”.  (Yes….ginormous is a word….it passed spell check so it must be a real word).

So, what does this have to do with “Slunk”.  Recently I traveled to Scotland to participate in the Masters World Championships of Highland Games.  Chad Ullom and Jackson Weightlifting Club members Bill Leffler and Jim Spalding were along.  If you’ve ever traveled internationally you may have experienced jet lag.  You also end up with these epically long travel times.  Chad told me that when he and Al Myers traveled to the IAWA World’s a couple years back they spent 40 hours on the road!  They got back Sunday night and Chad had to go to work Monday morning.  He said he was so exhausted that he couldn’t function….or was he “Slunk”?  So sleepy he felt drunk!

On my  recent trip to Scotland I had trouble sleeping on the overnight flight and ended up having marginal sleep for many hours and I jokingly said to Chad that I was “Slunk”.  We were all so tired we wondered if we should even be driving and kept taking turns as we caught naps.  I got to thinking and there have been many times I have been “Slunk”.  When I was in the Marines I was on a schedule where I would work two day shifts the first two days, then two 11-7 shifts the next two days, followed by two afternoon shifts the following two days.  I would then get 80 hours off and repeat.  I often stayed up between the two day intervals and became very sleep deprived.  I once fell into such a deep sleep afterwards that they almost called an ambulance when I wouldn’t wake up!

So, I’m going to try and go viral with this new term to describe that state of being so sleepy that you feel drunk….or Slunk!  It’s real, and we need a word to describe it so why not this word.  Sure, I’m in it for some personal glory, too.  I won’t lie.  If this word makes it I’ll probably cut the page out of a dictionary and hang it on my office wall and then gloat to all my friends saying, “I made that up”.

Do you still need to be sold on it?  Well, think of all the great ways it can be modified to describe things that we currently just can’t describe with one word.  So, if you are so sleepy you feel drunk you are simply “Slunk”.  If someone does this often, then you could call them a “Slunkard”.  If you plan on doing it then you can say you are going to be “Slunking” or maybe you are going to get “slanked”.  If you did it the day before you can say you were “slunked” yesterday.  I haven’t figure out “Slinking”…..maybe it’s the time leading up to getting “Slunked”. I haven’t worked out all these details yet….I’m an idea man not a detail guy.

Okay, so you have a new word!  The revolution begins.  Make me a superstar in the world of Etymology!  Start using “Slunk” every chance you get and, please remember….don’t slink and drive!  Now, if you excuse me….it’s my nap time.  I don’t want to end up a “Slunkard”.

All Round Mountaineering

by Thom Van Vleck

Chad atop the mountain!

After the recent Highland Games Masters World Championships Chad Ullom joined me on a “Mountaineering” expedition.  Last time I made a pretty epic climb but this time we took it a little easier after such a tough, three day competition. It is my opinion that a true “all rounder” should be in shape to do pretty much whatever he wants.  I enjoy hiking and hill climbing.

We had rented a house that overlooked Loch Ness.  Honestly, it was the best place I’ve ever stayed.  About as stereotypical Scotland as you could get and the views were spectacular.  While we were up above the Loch we were far from the top and that became Chad and I’s goal.  We heard you could see for 50 miles in every direction.  We set out up a road that met a trail.  The trail was was through woods and fairly steep.  We reached a logging road and after some discussion picked a route.  As we got above the tree line we were in fields covered with heather and rocks.

We were hoping for good weather as the view promised to be spectacular….but a heavy fog (or maybe it was clouds!) rolled in.  I’m glad we took layers as the wind picked up and it was very damp.  While the long distance view was ruined, it was still pretty interesting to pick you way down a trail in that heavy fog.  If you didn’t pay attention you could get easily turned around.

Thom Van Vleck at the top.

We ended up hiking down the other side and picking our way through several trails in the Abraichian Forest.  We ran across deep woods, unusual mushrooms as big as dinner plates and some bright red and some orange.  We saw an illicit Whiskey still reproduction (the Scottish version of a moonshine still).  There were glacial tills filled with rocks and we even saw some Scottish Red Deer.

As always, I had a bit of a side mission as well.  In 1971 my mother gave me my first bible.  Then for Christmas in 1978 by grandfather Dalton (Jackson Weightlifting Club founder) gave me a bible.  They were both small versions but have meant a lot to me because they are symbolic of the Christian principles I was taught and have come to embrace.  I know Christ is my savior and I’m a better man for it.  So, I brought those bibles along and laid them out at the top of the peak.

Two Bibles given to me by my mother and grandfather setting at the top of the mountain.

I can’t believe I’ve been to Scotland three times….and I can’t say I won’t again.  I’m sure there are many beautiful places in the world but there is so much I haven’t seen there and it’s a “sure thing” I’ll like it versus and unknown place.  Plus, the family history connection and the highland games are hard to beat.  I’ve already got a “next mountain” planned when I make it back.

Highland Games Masters 2014

by Thom Van Vleck

Chad Ullom tossing the caber in Scotland!

Recently USAWA members Dave Glasgow, Chad Ullom, and Thom Van Vleck went to Inverness, Scotland to attend the Masters World Champs of Highland Games.  Unfortunately, Dean Ross was unable to attend.  Dean was the last person to have attended EVERY SINGLE MWC since it’s inception a dozen years ago.  Larry Traub was in attendance to watch and cheer us on.  Dave and Larry had brought their wives along….I was stuck rooming with Chad…..

The event was great fun and I’ve already talked about the Guinness caber toss record.  This was a three day event and it worked out where I could help Chad in the morning sessions when he threw and he could help me in the afternoon sessions.  I know for a fact Chad helped me out and I hope he found me helpful as well.  We would video each other throwing and assess mistakes and changes.

Chad Ullom between Wilbur Stam and Tommy DeBruijn....and Chad beat them both in the caber!

Chad was 4th in what I would call one of the toughest 40-44 age groups I’ve ever seen.  He had former champ Mike Dickens to deal with as well as 6’10” Tommy DeBruijn.  Chad did extremely well against a field of some 20 throwers.  His best event was the caber toss where he was one of only three in his group to turn the caber.  He was in a dead tie going into the third and final attempt and ended up 2nd by a fraction.  I have to say in my opinion I thought he won it….but they didn’t let me judge!  It was that close.

I was in the 50-54 age group and I was dealing with two of the all time Scottish greats….Mark McDonald and Allister Gunn.  Both former pros and it was no contest with 18 throwers in my group about who would be in the top two.  Allister pulled out a close victory and the rest of use were really contending for 3rd.  I was very pleased to have my 2nd best finish ever with a 5th.  However, what really made my trip was winning the Weight Over Bar event for the 4th time at the World’s.   I really thought I had no chance at beating the two legendary Scots but it ended up being my day!  Chad was a big help spotting for me and keeping me focused.  I get deservedly kidded for focusing on this event but I love it and I won’t apologize for enjoying my win even if it’s just one event!

Thom Van Vleck winning the WOB event.

I know Dave was in a very tough group.  It was great to see him in Scotland with Larry.  Dave’s best events were the hammers where he placed 4th in both the light and heavy.  He was also 5th in the Heavy weight for distance.  Dave was in the 60-64 age group…..Which had THREE former or current World Champs in his group….by far the toughest in my opinion relative to the competition and age. I think Dave would be at the top had he not blown both quads a few years back.  I think he’s an amazing story recovering from that injury and coming back to throw well enough to contend for the podium.

Next year the World’s are slated for St. Louis, Missouri…back in the USA!  Looking forward to it all ready!

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