About Texas Women's Highland Games
To increase awareness and involvement of women in the sport of the Highland Games. Promoting a fun, active, family friendly and competitive sport by providing information and resources to all those interested in joining us in our continuing adventures!
Please see our FAQ page for all those burning questions you have about how you participate, what to do, who to talk to and where to go!
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
The Old Guard: BECAUSE I SAID SO!
How did you find highland games?
I THINK THE GAMES FOUND ME, ACTUALLY. IN THE MID -80s, WE ATTENDED A SCOTTISH FESTIVAL IN COLORADO. I SAW THE THROWERS, THOUGHT I MIGHT LIKE TO TRY THAT, AND THEN FORGOT ABOUT IT. IT WAS NOT TILL 1999 THAT I FINALLY GOT STARTED. I’M DAMNED IF I REMEMBER WHY I STARTED THEN!! HOWEVER, I HAVE SAID THAT THE GAMES, FOR REASONS I WILL NOT GO INTO HERE, SAVED MY LIFE. THAT IS A FACT.
When did you start throwing?
MAC IN 1999. I SHOWED UP AND HAD NO IDEA WHAT TO DO OR EXPECT. I WAS SHEPHERDED THRU THE DAY BY BILL SCRUGGS, THE FATHER (OR ONE OF THEM, ANYWAY) OF THE MASTERS WORLD HIGHLAND GAMES CHAMPIONSHIPS. FROM THEN ON, I WAS SINGLE-MINDED!! I FOUND A NEW HOME!! I MADE MY OWN EQUIPMENT, PRACTICED MY ASS OFF AND I WAS ON MY WAY!! (VISITOR IN TOWN: ‘HOW DO YOU GET TO CARNEGIE HALL’?LOCAL: ‘PRACTICE. PRACTICE. PRACTICE’.)
Who was your biggest coach/mentor/advocate?
THAT’S SIMPLE! GUNNER, MY WIFE HAS BEEN MY ROCK. SHE HAS BEEN THERE FROM THE GET GO AND ALWAYS ENCOURAGED, SUPPORTED AND DONE A LOT OF THE ‘GRUNT’ WORK THAT MAKES A DAY OF THROWING JUST THAT MUCH EASIER FOR ME.
HOWEVER, COACH WISE, I’LL GIVE CUDOS TO JOHN GALLAGHER. I HOOKED UP WITH HIM IN ’06. I THREW SHOT IN HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE. I THOUGHT I KNEW HOW TO THROW. TEN MINUTES WITH HIM SHOWED ME I WAS AN INFANT IN THE THROWS WORLD. I CAN SAFELY SAY THAT HE IS, WITHOUT A DOUBT, THE BEST COACH/TRAINER IN HIGHLAND GAMES TODAY. EVERYTIME I HOOK UP WITH HIM, I LEARN SOMETHING NEW. FOR THOSE WANTING QUALITY,
NO NONSENSE INSTRUCTION, ACCEPT NO OTHER.
Is your family involved in the Highland Games, as well?
ABSOLUTELY!! AS I SAID, GUNNER IS WITH ME AT EVERY GAMES AND HELPS WITH MY AD DUTIES. MY DAUGHTER, AMBER, CAUGHT THE FEVER AND HAS BEEN THROWING FOR 3 YEARS. NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN IS MY GRANDSON, J.A. WHETSTONE. HE IS TEN AND THERE IS NOT MUCH OF HIM BUT HIS ENTHUSIASM IS UNBEATABLE!!
What was your athletic background before Games?
WOW. I HAVE TRIED IT ALL. BASEBALL, BASKETBALL, SOCCER, WRESTLING TRACK AND FIELD. I DID SOME POWER LIFTING BACK IN THE SEVENTIES BUT I WAS NOT VERY GOOD AT ALL. I HAVE WEIGHT LIFTED SINCE I WAS A KID AND THAT, AFTER THE GAMES, IS WHAT I REALLY ENJOY. I HAVE ALWAYS CONSIDERED MYSELF ‘ATHLETIC’; HOWEVER, I AM MEDIOCRE, AT BEST.
Which Games are your favorites? Why so?
EASY. MAC!! OF COURSE!! BEST VENUE, BEST AWARDS, BEST FOOD,…YOU NAME IT. PLUS, IT IS, WHAT JERRY VAN DYKE TOLD ME ONE TIME, MY ‘HOME GAMES’.
What is a common mistake you see people make in the
games that could be easily corrected?
VERY SIMPLY PUT….. TOO MUCH LIFTING, NOT ENOUGH THROWING/ATTENTION TO TECHNIQUE!! THERE IS JUST TOO MUCH EMPHASIS PUT ON BUILDING THE ‘MAX’ AMOUNT OF STRENGTH. I READ A GOOD ARTICLE THE OTHER DAY. THERE WAS A COMPARISON OF STATIC STRENGTH AS OPPOSED TO EXPLOSIVE STRENGTH. THE
STATIC STRENGTH IS A TRACTOR. THE EXPLOSIVE STRENGTH IS THE FERRARI. FOR THROWING TO WORK, YOU NEED TO BE A FERRARI. I FELT THIS WAS AN EXCELLENT COMPARISON AND I SAW THE RELEVANCE TO THROWING IMMEDIATELY.
How did you transition into being an AD as well as a thrower?
WHEN AL MEYERS RESIGNED AS AD AT MAC IN ’07, I DID’NT WANT TO SEE MAC DIE. SO, I ASKED GUNNER
IF I SHOULD TAKE ON THE AD DUTIES WITH THE STIPULATION THAT I GET THE VENTRESS’ (TERRI AND LARRY) INVOLVED AS WELL. SHE SAID THAT WAS THE ONLY WAY SHE COULD SEE THAT IT WOULD WORK!!! FROM THERE, IT JUST SNOWBALLED AND HERE WE ARE. I DO THREE A YEAR, NOW. I WOULD LIKE TO SAY IT GETS EASIER, AND IN SOME WAYS, IT IS. HOWEVER, EVERY YEAR BRINGS NEW CHANGES AND CHALLENGES.
Can you tell us what it takes to put on the games you host? Give us
an idea of the prep involved.
PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT TAKES. IF THEY DID, THEY WOULD NEVER BITCH ABOUT SOME TRIVIAL THING THEY THINK IS AN ISSUE. THE VENTRESS’, GUNNER AND I KNOW WHAT IT TAKES TO PUT ON A QUALITY EVENT,
BECAUSE WE ARE COMPETITORS, AS WELL. OUR PHILOSOPHY IS TO PROVIDE A SAFE, EFFICIENT, AND FUN GAMES THAT IS WORTHY OF THE EFFORTS OF THOSE WHO SPEND THEIR MONEY, TIME AND
EFFORT TO ATTEND. WE FEEL THAT IS OUR OBLIGATION TO THE THROWER. NOTHING LESS. EVERY YEAR, WE STRIVE TO MAKE OUR GAMES JUST THAT MUCH BETTER, IN SOME WAY, THAN THE YEAR BEFORE. WE ARE NOT ARROGANT ENOUGH TO THINK WE HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS. THEREFORE, WE LISTEN TO WHAT THE THROWERS SAY, POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE AND STRIVE TO MAKE CHANGES THAT MAKE SENSE TO BETTER THE PRODUCT.
THE ACTUAL PREP STARTS MONTHS IN ADVANCE. FOOD, AWARDS, SHIRTS, JUDGES, EQUIPMENT…YOU CAN’T JUST HALF ASS THIS OR IT WILL SHOW AND THE THROWERS WILL TELL YOU WHERE O STORE IT AND GO TO SOME OTHER VENUE. WE REALLY PAY ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS AND I LIKE TO THINK THAT WE DON’T OVERLOOK ANYTHING. BRINGING ALL THIS TOGETHER AT THE SAME TIME TAKES COORDINATION, TIMING AND LUCK. HOWEVER, WHEN YOU HAVE THE STAFF SURROUNDING YOU THAT I HAVE, THAT SEEMS TO MAKE IT FAIRLY EASY. I WOULD, TRULY, HATE TO TRY AND PULL ONE OF THESE EVENTS OFF BY MYSELF.
What keeps you involved in the games after all this time?
NOW AND AGAIN, I GET A CALL FROM SOME YOUNG MAN OR LADY. THEY WANT TO GET STARTED IN THE GAMES
AND ARE LOOKING FOR DIRECTION. I ALWAYS SAY, ‘COME TO ME, MY CHILD!!’ WHEN THEY SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE THEIR FIRST GAMES, MOST TIMES, THEY COME UP TO ME, SHAKE MY HAND AND THANK ME FOR MY HELP. THAT’S WHAT KEEPS ME INVOLVED!!! THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT WORTH WHILE. THAT’S THE WAY IT SHOULD BE. PASSING THE INFORMATION DOWN, TO PROPAGATE THE SPECIES, AS IT WERE.
What is your biggest obstacle in the Games?
HAHAHAHA I’M NOT THIRTY ANYMORE!!!
Who inspires you as a thrower?
THE COMPETITOR THAT STRIVES TO IMPROVE, BE THEY AN ‘A’ THROWER OR ‘C’THROWER, THAT WILL NEVER GIVE UP IN THE QUEST FOR THE BIG THROWS, ALWAYS LOOKING TO PUSH THAT PR OUT THERE JUST A LITTLE BIT FARTHER. THE ONE WHO HAS THE BALLS (MALE OR FEMALE) TO DO WHAT IT TAKES TO GET THERE.
If you could give one tidbit of advice to newer throwers what pearl of wisdom would you leave them with?
SEEK OUT QUALITY INSTRUCTION. DON’T BE AFFAID TO SPEND SOME CASH TO GET IT. WATCH, LISTEN, ANALYZE, ASK QUESTIONS, PRACTICE. OBSERVE THROWERS YOU DON’T THINK ARE THAT GOOD. YOU CAN LEARN WHAT NOT TO DO FROM THEM!! YOU CAN LEARN FROM ANYBODY!! I TOLD ONE INDIVIDUAL ONE TIME THAT THERE WOULD COME A TIME WHEN I COULD NO LONGER HELP THEM (AS MY THROWS INVENTORY IS LIMITED) AND THEY WOULD HAVE TO SEEK OTHER PERSONS TO TAKE THEM FURTHER. I SAID I WOULD, ABSOLUTELY, NOT TAKE OFFENCE! I MEANT IT!!
SOME YEARS AGO, I WORKED FOR AN ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON. HE SAID SOMETHING THAT I WILL NEVER FORGET. “NOBODY HAS A LOCK ON ALL THE KNOWLEDGE!” APPLY THAT TO YOUR THROWING/TRAINING AND YOU CAN NOT GO WRONG! PROMISE!!
What are some of the changes you have seen in the games over the years?
THE ONE MAJOR THING I SEE IS THE COMPETITION HAS GOTTEN SOOOO MUCH BETTER!!! ESPECIALLY THE WOMEN!! WHEN I FIRST STARTED, THE MASTERS WERE NOT WHAT THEY ARE NOW. THE WOMEN WERE MORE OF A SOCIAL CLUB THAN THROWERS. YACK, YACK, YACK…. I ABSOLUTELY HATED HAVING TO THROW WITH THE WOMEN WHEN THE MASTERS WERE PAIRED WITH THEM (BACK THEN IT WAS, “OH, IT’S JUST THE MASTERS AND THE WOMEN. WHO CARES?? JUST PUT THEM WHEREVER…."
NOW, THE WOMEN ARE ATHLETES!! THEY ARE FOCUSED, SERIOUS, TRAIN YEAR ROUND AND ARE A HELL OF A LOT OF FUN TO BE WITH!! THESE GIRLS ARE VERY IMPRESSIVE!!
ALL ACROSS THE BOARD, THE CLASSES ARE BETTER. THIS IS GREAT TO SEE AS IT SHOWS THAT THE GAMES ARE BEING TAKEN SERIOUSLY, AS THEY SHOULD. I THINK THE FESTIVALS ARE MORE IN TUNE TO THE ATHLETES NOW BECAUSE OF THE QUALITY OF THE ATHLETES INVOLVED.
Where will you be throwing this season?
I START MY SEASON AT THE MASTERS WORLDS IN ALBUQUERQUE I MAY. FROM THERE, I HAVE NOT REALLY DECIDED. PROBABLY KC, LUCAS, WICHITA (IF THAT MATERIALIZES), JOPLIN, TULSA, BUFFALO. LEDAIG AND MAC. (FOR SURE!! HAHA) I’LL JUST HAVE TO SEE. IF I AM NOT THROWING AT ONE OF THESE, I WILL BE THERE IN SOME FORM, I’M SURE.
How did you get into the habit of giving out nicknames?
IN MY WORLD, A NICKNAME IS THE ULTIMATE COMPLIMENT A PERSON CAN GIVE YOU OR THAT YOU CAN RECEIVE. IT SHOWS CAMARADERIE, RESPECT AND A CLOSENESS THAT WE NEED MORE OF. PLUS, I ENJOY DOING IT! THERE IS A LINE FROM THE MOVIE ‘COOLHAND LUKE’ WHERE ‘DRAGLINE’(GEORGE KENNEDY) SAYS TO LUKE(PAUL NEWMAN), “YOU AIN’T NOBODY ‘TILL DRAGLINE GIVES YOU YOUR ROAD NAME!!” MAYBE, SOMEDAY, THAT WILL BE THE SAME FOR