“Who do you play for?”

What is Old Country Barbell? It’s a family. We all look out for eachother and never really pull punches on giving out our fair share of shit to those in it. If you saw the profile Johnny wrote up for me, it’s all laid out. I started the Barbell Club on the seawall of my parents’ house back in the day. When I moved in with some like-minded people, I branded it “West Seattle Barbell Club”.

The Club was my safe zone. We didn’t care who won workouts or who lifted the most in our sessions. In fact, most of the time Annie and Aaron were drinking before or during workouts (I won’t lie, I used to like squat beers myself). It was our time away from work, family stresses, or relationship problems. It was for Crossfitting or powerlifting or training or any of the other crazy things we use to do (I remember Nickay, Annie, and myself ran a marathon because we were idiots). The Club is what kept us all together. We had a bond from tearing ourselves down together, building back up, and making memories at the bar we’d never forget.

That’s what the Club was to me. I brought it with me to the gym and found some people who needed it just as much as I did. Starting out, it was for the people who couldn’t run faster than everyone else or do a thousand ring dips. No… it really started out for the ones who came to every Wednesday heavy day because the barbell kept them sane. No one used to care who squatted the most or how much weight you could get over your head, people just cared about workout times. I think what drew me to those original Club members from the gym was the fact that they didn’t care about that stuff, that the truth that lay in the iron was important to them.

That group of people was a family within the gym. Others started to recognize the bond some of us were creating under the iron and gravitated towards it. We joke that it’s like a maurading band of Vikings or a rowdy English soccer firm. But it’s not. I went through some pretty dark times this year, and that family was there for me.

We’ve grown so much in the last months that I’m not sure if some people realize that that’s still the point. We’ve had friends find their way in by coming out to party in dresses (not kilts, kilts aren’t dresses), lifting the house from the ground or on their back, dominating competitions, or just standing by their friends against the rising tide.

Everyone in the Club has done these things. But what I’m about to talk about isn’t any of those things. A dear friend of ours is finding his way into the Club today. I still remember when he first showed up. He was Rob’s new neighbor and seemed like a pretty cool guy. Then he brought his daughter in. Of all the classes to bring her in to, it was a class full of Club members cussing and ragging on eachother. But he said not to worry, that she’d be fine… and she was. From that point on, in my book, so was Mark.

Mark always came in ready to work. I remember how jacked he was when he pulled over 400 on his deadlift for the first time. He’s the kinda guy that will put up with shit from the youngbucks calling him “GrayBread”. He just flips it back, once even telling John, “we might be fishing in the same pond, but we aren’t after the same fish.”
It was classic, we still quote that.

We always told Mark he’d have been in the Club along time ago if he just came drinking with us. But Mark’s kind of a fancy guy who goes to Bellevue with his hot girlfriend and such. So we had yet to bring him in. Well last weekend, our good friend Mark had a climbing accident. When I received the text from Mark about it, it was in his classic cool-no-big-deal Mark fashion. I asked if he was interested in a new strength program we’d be doing at the gym and he simply said in reply, “I’d love to but I took a 500 foot fall on Mt. Hood so I don’t think I’ll be able to”. My heart sank, but he seemed to be ok the more I texted him.

When he came in to visit the gym yesterday, he looked like he’d been in a motorcycle accident. As he told the story over and over to people who’d ask, he kept his very cool, calm Mark demenor about him. Mark is family and he’s put in his time and then some. Anyone who could come out of that with as few injuries as he did deserves to be in the Club. Old Country Barbell is glad to have you Mark (sorry your daughter Lucy was in before you, but she’s pretty bad ass).

“Only after disaster can we be resurrected…” – Fight Club

7 Responses to ““Who do you play for?””

  1. I was in my office, getting something ready for this blog when Z told me to hold it off because he wanted to do a special write up on Mark. Why? Because he had survived a fall that Drea had to ask me 3 times to be sure I wasn’t bullshitting her. My first concern was and still is his health and me and my family (both technically and metaphorically) wish him a speedy recovery. As for the spot in the OCBC, bout fracking time.

  2. I agree with Nickay, bout frackin’ time!

    Welcome to the family Mark, Z’s right, Lucy is a badass, says a lot about her Dad though.

    Heal up quick, I know what it’s like to take a fall on a mountain, not a fun time.

  3. Yes!!! Congratulations, Mark!

    We all couldn’t be happier for your safe return.

    I guess it’s time for some upper body/bench/kb concentration.

    And yes, Lucy is a rock star. She comes from good stock. Got to get Lucy to take Gabby under her wing!

  4. One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Rodney Dangerfield. He once said “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have ME as a member” Funny line, but definitely not the case here. If I would have known what it takes to make it in the club, I would have jumped off Mt Hood nine months ago.

    In all seriousness, I remember talking to Rob, Eric and Z when I first signed up. They ran through the basic principles of crossfit which i basically understood. They also kept throwing in the term “family” which I admittedly thought was just a trite cliche. I thought I would “get in/get out” with my workout and that would be that. After a few months of coming in I could sense I was wrong. I am not a real easy guy to get to know so it took some time for me to open up and talk more. Lucy is the same way. We kind of both just observed for the first few months. She would would listen to her music and I would kind of zone out during the workouts. Wednesdays changed that for me. Wednesdays were my favorite days, not necessarily because of the workouts but because of the people. I vividly remember one Wednesday night– Z was getting psyched up for a lift doing the typical grunting, chest pounding and foot stomping. Lucy took her headphones out, waived me over and said “Daddy, what is WRONG with Z?? He looks like a crazy animal” For whatever reason, watching Z go “tribal” kind of made Lucy and I let our guard down.

    Everyone in the gym and, especially OCB, have been so incredibly good to myself and Lucy. Lucy LOVES coming to crossfit. I think I have said this before but she gets pissed if we miss a class. She knows everybodys name and will ask me questions about all of you guys on the way home.

    Lucy and I were walking back to gym after pipehitters classic on Saturday and she wanted to help so I let her carry the bucket with the chalk. We spotted the monkey bars on our walk and she asked if she could do them just once. She could sense I was worn out but I reluctantly said “yes” and we made our way over there. She lifts the bucket up to the platform climbs up and puts one hand on the monkey bar. She pulls back, throws both hands into the chalk, claps twice, and declares “NOW, I’m ready Daddy” Awesome. She is definitely OCB.

    And yes, swear words are part of OCB but that is not what she takes away from her time here. She knows good people when she sees them. So do I. This is a club I am proud to be a member of.

  5. Matt Brenton Says:

    Congrats Mark!– and I am glad to hear you’re alright after a fall like that. Heal quick..
    Lucy is a badass… this was much more obvious the last time I saw her.. she had dyed her hair blue, when I asked why. She shrugged her shoulders and with just a touch of sass said “cause I wanted to”.

  6. Monster Mark. Congrats, broham!! Now heal up and let’s get back to the iron.

  7. I couldn’t agree with everyone else’s sentiments more. I could always tell you were a good gorilla.

    Wish you a speedy recovery.

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