by Thom Van Vleck
I don’t know about you, but I have received about 300 meet shirts in the last 30 years. Probably 200 I competed in, the rest I was a judge, loader, spotter, scorekeeper, patron, or meet director. I know how many because every few years I thin them out and keep the ones that have sentimental value in a special drawer, give away some, and keep the rest for workouts. Some shirts become “lucky”…I have a good meet or workout in it and I then use it when I need some “mojo” for a contest or record day. Some, a select few, get retired and are never worn again. The ones I give away go to good homes, guys who are really into the lifting or throwing and really appreciate the shirts. I gave a fellow highland gamer 75 shirts and he made it into a quilt that was pretty cool and he hung it in his living room. I can go over and point to different designs and almost tell you how I placed, my throws, and even what the weather was like that day.
Recently, Al and I traveled to Colorado and met with Russ Murphy, a highland games legend. I got some really old meet shirts from him, about a dozen or so that go back 20 to 30 years. He even had one that was from the first meet I ever competed in, in 1995. Mine had been “retired” so I got his and now I have one I can wear, too. Years ago, World Powerlifting Champ and the man that broke Kaz’s total record, John Ware, gave me a shirt he wore when he broke Kaz’s record. I kinda felt like the kid in the Coke commercial getting the jersey from Mean Joe Greene.
Shirts can be pretty special. Today some of us will be heading to York Barbell for the USAWA Heavy Lift Nationals this weekend. I can’t wait to get there. I also know that Al has designed the meet shirts using the York Barbell logo. I have a feeling this trip will be epic in many ways, mostly me traveling to the “mecca” of weightlifting for the first time in my life! I remember seeing many photos of Gene in his York Barbell shirt and thinking I would like to have one….now I will and it will be pretty special. But I wonder, will this shirt become a retired one, or a lucky shirt, or will I give it away…..only time will tell.