Prior to the pursuit of my dream career position in the fire service, my original dream was representing the United States as an Olympic Hopeful for the sport of Greco-Roman wrestling. I spent the majority of my childhood and early adult life preparing for the opportunity to be a member of Team USA Wrestling. I started my athletic career in the dojo studying the martial sciences. At the early age of six, I was enrolled in my local martial arts academy studying the martial science of Judo and Jujitsu.
My sensei instilled in me the importance of hard work and discipline from a very early age. I respected the martial sciences and the concept of mastering the craft. I was instructed in both English and Japanese. I was required to know the pronunciation and the spelling of every technique in both English and Japanese prior to being award the promotion of each belt. Nothing was awarded or given without hard work through preparation and mastery of the martial sciences.
I continued in athletics while in middle school and high school. While in middle school, I discovered the correlation of the martial sciences with the sport of folkstyle wrestling. I received the opportunity to travel with the Junior National Team from California to the location of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, two weeks prior to the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. Our team from California was comprised of several soon to be Junior World Champions in the sport of Wrestling. In fact, several years later in our collegiate years, several of us became NCAA National Champions, Olympic Medalists and Ultimate Fighting Championship stars.
My first professional Greco-Roman match as an Olympic Hopeful was in 1999 at the USA Wrestling National Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada. As fate would have it, I drew the #1 seeded Greco-Roman wrestler in the Country and one of the top wrestlers at my weight class in the world. For the next several years participating at the US Nationals in Las Vegas, Nevada, I would draw the top #1 or #2 wrestler at my weight class each year in 2001, 2002 and 2003. In order to be the best at any competitive sport, you have to compete with the best athletes in the world.