J Robinson Camp It all started out at the end of last season.
It was the middle of March, spring right around the corner. You know what that means? Offseason Wrestling. See, most people think it’s only a winter sport, but in reality it’s year round. My coaches (Kevin Hansen and Grant Hoerr) told me to do offseason matches because that is where you make the most gains. I was okay with it, I wasn’t always in the mood to do it but, I knew it would help me for next season. So for a couple weeks it was the same thing over and over again, lifting weights, running, practice, and then competition.
Even though the stuff I was doing now was hard, It just didn’t seem like it was hard enough. I wanted something that would challenge me more physically and mentally. I began to run and lift weights before and after school, along with the daily stuff I did here at school as well. Even that still didn’t seem hard enough! I would often times find myself going on Youtube, or looking up on Google, camps I could go to. Overtime I finally found the right one. I looked into it for a couple days and knew it was a fit. It’s the J Robinson 28 Day Intensive Wrestling Camp. At first, I was hesitant to sign up.
Why? Well, it was 28 days long, the kids there were extremely good, it was at the University of Minnesota, and it would take up most of my summer. I value Wrestling more than my summer. Think about it this way. At the time I only had two more years of High School Wrestling left, and I still had a lot of Summer’s ahead of me. Once the school year ended and things settled down, I really started to zone in on this camp. I thought I knew how much I had to train, but little did I know I was far from the truth.
Days flew by fast before camp started and before I knew it I arrived in Minneapolis ready to wrestle. We were able to use the University’s facilities and dorms. The dorm we stayed at was called Sanford Hall. When you first get there with all your bags you have to wait in a very long line outside to check in. After that you get your room mate, room key, room number, lunch key, laundry straps, water bottle, and laundry straps. Since most people don’t know what a laundry strap is allow me to tell you.
It is a clip that you put your clothes on and then you clip it back up. So, when you throw your clothes in the wash, they won’t get mixed up.Once you finish doing all of that you have to wait in another room for a little bit. In this room, you have to weigh in. You weigh in because you get put in a wrestling group based on your weight.
Lucky me had some of the best kids in the camp in my group. Great!After all of that is done you finally say goodbye to your parents, head up to your room, unpack and your bags, and call it home for the next month. After you get settled in for a couple hours everybody either walks, bikes, or skateboards to the Indoor football complex (Bierman Facility) and Have J talk to us. J is the person who created this camp. He is Minnesota’s Head Wrestling Coach. J had a very successful wrestling career throughout College and the Olympics.
He wrestled at Oklahoma State, where he was a 3 time All-American, and was a bronze medalist in the Olympics. After his wrestling Career J really didn’t know what he wanted to do with hislife. He became an Army Ranger(which is the equivalent or harder than a Navy Seal) and fought in the Vietnam War. After that he took on coaching and that leads him to where he is now. J talks to us about what to expect at camp, some do’s and dont’s.
The talk lasted about an hour or so. Once that settled down, we got put into another set of groups for running. There were 3 different groups based on your last name. There were running groups 1-10, one being the fastest, ten being the slowest. You have to run Two miles and the top 10 runners from the 3 groups get put into running group one, and so on.
I came in 2nd in my group with a time of 10:48 so I was placed in Group one. Finally, after what seemed to be such a long day, I headed back to my dorm and got the well earned rest I needed. Beep! Beep! The annoying sound of my alarm going off at 6:15 in the morning, thinking to myself ” What am I doing with my life?”As I get dressed, brush my teeth, and head down all 18 flights of stairs to line up in our Running group, in front of Sanford Hall. Every night you have to write in this booklet they give you, your goals for the day, what you ate, what workouts you did, and what good things and bad things happened. If you didn’t have your daily sheet completed or left it in the room they deduct 50 points from you. You start camp off with 1000 points and need to finish camp with at least 700 points to get the “I Did It” shirt (which I got).
I think the morning runs/lifts were the hardest part of camp. I mean think about it. You’re busting your butt all day long, and just want some nice rest. But no.You wake up bright and early everyday, same thing day after day, the torture never stops. J always would say to us “You are outworking each and everyone of your friends this summer, I hope you know that.
You are burning about 9,000 calories a day which is crazy for anyone, yet young men like yourselves. I hope you guys also know that you are running 10+ miles everyday and do about 3,000 pushups a day. These numbers are insane and that is something you should always remember. You and I have a definition of hard work but, they are miles and miles apart. By day 28 you will finally know what I mean when I say we are going to work hard today.” J is a really good motivational speaker.
He really knows how to get you to think about everything, from your surroundings, to the people you hangout with, to what your goals are. Some of the workouts you had to do were the hardest things I have and probably will ever do. There was this run you had to do where you run 5 miles out with another person on your back, and then you have to run the 5 miles back to the facility. If you don’t you will lose a lot of points. A lot of their workouts bring back so many memories both good and bad.
Once the morning workout was completed you would go back to your dorm shower up, and head down and get some food. Let me just start out by saying this. The food there was AWFUL. It tasted like cardboard. After the first week almost every camper would just eat at nearby places on the campus. After you ate the next practice would be in another 3 hours.
This would give you time to rest, which I always loved. The next practice would either be Technique or Hard Practice. Technique was fun, you learned new moves from the camp counselors and kind of just messed around with them to see if you liked them. It wasn’t intense at all. Now, the Hard Practice on the other hand is the most grueling thing ever. As soon as you get into the Bierman Facility it was go time.
The warm ups were very demanding. I don’t even think I would consider them warm ups. The drills were extremely hard, non stop. A normal wrestling period is 2 minutes long. I don’t think that existed at camp. I remember one time one of the counselors said ” Okay guys grab a guy about the same size as you, and you are going to wrestle a full match, each period is 20 minutes long.
” My jaw dropped. Wrestling hard for an hour straight is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. A normal match is 6 minutes long. Also, the Facility was extremely hot. It was always 90+ degrees in there, and since we had the mats on their indoor practice football field there was turf all over the mats.
It would tear apart your hands and knees, get in your hair, your shoes, and socks. To top it all off we had conditioning for the last 30 minutes. That is where most of the sprints, and pushups come in. It was terrible. Once Technique or Hard Practice was over, depending on which one was first that day, you would have to do the other practice you didn’t do yet. After both Technique and Hard Practice you had a night lift or run.
This would usually start at 7pm and end around 10pm. These were a little calmer than the morning runs and lifts but, they still sucked because it was 3 hours. After this you walk back to the dorm, shower up, write in your booklet, and then finally, oh finally, what you have been waiting for all day, you get to lay in your bed and be on your phone for a solid hour before bedtime. The schedule was the same all throughout camp, except for Day 28, the last day. 5:00 wakeup. All you had to do was run 15 miles in under 2 hours and 20 minutes.
At the time, that was so easy. Only 15 miles? That’s it? Pssh, I can do that, easy. I just remember telling myself “Whatever you do, no matter how slow you have to run, DO NOT STOP TO WALK.” It was a goal of mine to not walk, I thought it would make me look and feel weak, and that is not how I wanted to be viewed as. I remember the last mile thinking to myself, “This is it, this it what you worked for, this is what you deserved, go out there and get them now”.
I think that was the fastest mile I have ever ran, no matter how tired I was. My body and my find were miles and miles apart. Running down the sidewalk 2 blocks away from Sanford Hall,seeing all the parents cheering us on. The camp was finally over. I Did It. After the run when I hopped into the shower and was so happy, thinking to myself realizing what I had just done for the past month.
I packed up my bags and headed down the elevator all the way to floor one. After that I waited in a very long line, about an hour to see if I had enough points to earn the “I Did It” shirt. It was a goal of mine before camp even started, I needed that shirt. My heart was racing, I needed that shirt. I saw kids walking out of that room with the biggest smiles on their faces, and then I saw others with the biggest look of disappointment on their faces, I could remember seeing tears in their eyes slowing rolling down their faces.
I didn’t want that to be me, It couldn’t be me. As I got closer and closer to the room I got more and more nervous. Finally. “J check the sheet on this young man” ” Yep he has the points give em the shirt”. I was so happy, words could not even explain what was going on in my head. It was hard to hold back all my emotions.
Truth be told, if I didn’t get the shirt I would probably go back this year to get it, it means that much to me. After I got the shirt, I waited outside Sanford Hall with my Bags and waited for my dad and brother to get me. He was late getting me, but I remember getting a tap from behind my back. I turned around and it was them. I think I gave them the biggest hug ever. It felt good to see them and it felt even better to finish this camp.