December 29, 2020

They Come From The Water

 

John reconnects with his friend and former Navy SEAL, Adam Weiner. They bask in the glory of the good old days and discuss Adam’s journey to the United States Naval Academy, becoming a SEAL and transitioning back into civilian life. 


Episode Transcript:

John:
Well, we're going to talk a lot about Navy SEAL stuff today. You're a former Navy SEAL. I am very interested in all things Navy SEAL. And we're also going to talk a lot about what you're doing these days anyway, but I want to kind of start with the SEAL stuff. We go back pretty far back to the high school days.

Adam Weiner:
Indeed. It's pretty, it's, it's an awesome opportunity. I love that reconnecting and, you know, obviously we're, we're friends and we have mutual friends, so it's it's been a real pleasure just reconnecting. So this is fun.

John:
And I've talked to a few friends of ours as well, just to see what, what things I should be talking to you about as it pertains to the old days. And there's a lot of things that were, there were good memories. I remember the banjos from back in the day with the the soccer team. You remember any of those, any of those times?

Adam Weiner:
I do. I only fond memories. So yeah, you know a few of us would come out to cheer on the the high school soccer team, Plano Senior High School and specifically you know, I'll call him out. So Ryan Walker was our big star there that we were cheering for. But at any time the, the team would, you know, do something or score a goal, we'd all go into our chant. And you know, of course we had to have our shirts off, our chests painted and our big hats on. But that was that actually, it got a little, you know, I think we got, got a little press. I want to say the Plano Star Courier, got a picture of us in there at one point or another. So there's just great times. Great memories for sure.

John:
Ryan was a star. He is he's good. And the team was good too. They won the state championship. And if we're going to date ourselves here in 1995, I believe.

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. Junior year, I want to say they were state champs and senior year. I think they went to state and they lost in the finals if I'm not mistaken.

John:
Yeah. But those were good years for soccer and good years for the banjos, right?

Adam Weiner:
Yes. Probably better for soccer, but pretty solid for the banjos as well.

John:
And it was, it was those times for you when you were trying to figure out what, what you're going to do in your life. Just like, just like everybody else was, but you'd kind of, I think, made a decision in your mind of what you wanted to, what you wanted to do.

Adam Weiner:
I did, I, I had aspirations to be in the military and specifically I wanted to attend service academy. I wanted to go to the Naval Academy. It seemed a bit out of reach. So I was, I was kind of preparing to enlist, but as it turns out, you know, I, I, in a roundabout way got myself to the Naval Academy. And so yeah, that was it consumed a great deal of time. Kind of like trying to get my grades up and retaking the SAT many, many times never really getting what I needed to get. And, and then of course the banjos took up kind of the other half of the time.

John:
That was probably yeah, probably would, it would have stayed away from the banjo is maybe what got you to that a little quicker, I think, but like, I think also physically speaking too, you're talking about grades and things, but I mean, you were, you were cross country runner. I know that, and I think that that probably does well for you, especially kind of going forward with, within the Naval Academy and with the SEAL stuff, as well as I think you were really into swimming back in those days, too. Right?

Adam Weiner:
I wanted to, I had it in my head that maybe one day I could put in to be a SEAL. I never really took it too seriously, but seriously enough that I did some prep. So I swam just to stay in shape. I was, I was never a fast swimmer per se, but just wanted to be comfortable in the water and just get, you know, a healthy way to cross train and yeah, for sure. Anyone who does a sport wrestling, cross country, swimming, you know, kind of, you're trapped in your own head to push yourself. I think there's a lot of good kind of individual lessons learned on, you know, that internal conversation of, "Hey, did I give my best today? And do I have a little bit more?" So that, that always helps in, in any endeavor where you're going to be challenged, having those experiences.

John:
You said you wanted to serve, did you have any family experience with that or history rather, or you just had felt like you had a calling for that, or how did that, what was the Genesis of that?

Adam Weiner:
Yeah, it was really just, it was pure. I just liked the idea of giving back. I thought we, you know, had a pretty good deal growing up in North Dallas Plano. And I noticed that kind of the news would catch my eye where places on the other side of the globe were not doing so well. And I thought, gosh, you know, these kids, they didn't do anything to deserve that. I didn't do anything to deserve how good I have it. So it was, it was more of a, hey I like to, I only appreciate things that I earned. And so in a way I just kind of wanted to get back in arrears. And so I was excited for the opportunity to serve. I would say that paired with the fact that I wanted to be successful and I struggled academically. So, you know, I wasn't a total rock, but, and the school didn't come easy to me. And it just seemed like a good fit. You know, I was, yeah. I like the idea of hit now opportunity to travel, work with different people, work on teams. I love being on teams. So just the more I kind of wrap my head around the military, the more it appealed to me and it just clicked. It was like, yeah, that, that makes a lot of sense as it relates to family. My not really. I mean, my father did spend a little bit of time in the Vietnam timeframe and the army reserves, but it wasn't a pleasant experience for him. So it was really just more something that I wanted to do. There was no real family pressure there, if anything, it was probably the other direction.

John:
Okay. So you're swimming, you're trying to get your you're working on your grades, your your cross country experiences, helping you, the banjos are doing everything they can and you get to the point where you, this is what you're going to do. So like walk me through the, the process for being accepted in the Naval Academy. Not everybody gets in there and there's, there's some things you have to do to get in, right?

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. I mean, just like any other college you're applying to it, but the, the service, all the service academies require that you have, you have to have a nomination from, you know, your, your respective Congressman or woman. It can come from a state Senator, a US Senator rep, but the whole point of that is like, these are federally funded institutions. So know the idea is that we don't want the, the crazy military guys to run off with the institution. So we will make sure that the civilian led government has an appropriate say so, and that's the Genesis of that, that extra requirement. And people think, Oh, well, you have to be in the pocket of the politician. It's not really that way. I mean, the politicians, they respectively farm out a committee to build a board and you're applying to, did that respective Congressman Congresswoman, just like you would another school. And so yeah, so you have that extra wicked obviously, so that more wickets to jump through, but that's the process and it gets competitive because only so many people from each district can get into the school. So it's tight.

John:
Okay. So do you remember who you got the nomination from and what happens from there?

Adam Weiner:
So I got my nomination from Congressman, Dick Army. And what happens from there is, you know, that's exciting if you know, you get your nomination. So that's back into that day, that was a physical letter and actually showed up in the mailbox. There was no email in 1996, or maybe there was, but I didn't have one.

John:
Now, is there like a, is there like a party that ensues there? Do you have a

Adam Weiner:
You know what, I remember playing basketball with some of our mutual friends and I started running around cause I was, you know, I was looking forward and my buddy tackled me and he, he was excited for me that I had gotten in, but actually it was like, I just got the nomination. Well, you know, it's not nothing that's not getting in. So, but once you have the nomination, then yeah. You know, you got a real shot now. And then I did get a letter from the Naval Academy after that. And you're either going to get accepted or you're not. And then there's, you know, a group of folks that can go to a prep school. So you essentially do, we call it 13th grade, if you will, and reapply. And so in short that's what I did the long of it is that it was a tough decision because, you know, there's the excitement of, hey, you're going to go to college and if not, you're going to enlist. You don't want to go to high school for another year. But because it was very laser focused for a very real opportunity, the following year to get into the Academy and the the likelihood was jacked way up once you do something like that. So yeah, it was like, I'm all in. I got the support of my parents and I went off to a boarding school that was actually out in New Jersey. So it was definitely a year of more cultural awareness growing up in Dallas, Texas, and then going out to New Jersey for a boarding school reapplied. And I got in the following year, but that, that's how it played out for me.

John:
Okay. So now you're at the Naval Academy, which is again, no small feat. So we're, we're really making some big leaps here to get there. So kind of tell me about what happens at the Naval Academy. What's life like there?

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. It was similar to what it was like in Lubbock for you I'm sure. At Texas tech, right.

John:
I would imagine it was a little bit different.

Adam Weiner:
It's yeah, it's a, yeah, it's a military institution. So it's very regimented as far as the schedule goes. And I think a good way to summarize the Naval Academy is it's a leadership laboratory. So among other things that they're focused on teaching, you're called a midshipman at the Naval Academy, the students is leadership. And so you really can't be a great leader unless you can appreciate what it means to be a good follower. I guess that's my opinion. I think the Academy has that opinion too. Maybe others don't, but so your freshman year is you learn to be a follower and then your sophomore year you're like this mentor. You're just happy that you're not a freshmen, freshmen are called plebes. And so you're, you're helping train the freshmen, but in a very mentoring way. And then as a junior or second class, that's kind of the, the heart of the training is that junior to freshmen is a responsibility to develop and train those freshmen. And then as a senior, you're kind of have opportunities to have, we call it executive level leadership where you, you got some of the pain of being a bit removed from, we'll say the ground truth or the real training, but you're, you're ultimately responsible. So it kind of gives you a taste of all those layers in that leadership ladder. And you know, and meanwhile, obviously you're going to class, it's a very heavy math science curriculum. Everyone graduates with a bachelor of science and they purposely tried to, I don't say try, they're very successful at overloading your schedule. So you learn time management. You know, one of the things in the service is that the stakes are high. And a lot of times you don't have the time you would want to be thorough enough in something that you're dealing with in the art of prioritization gets to be very critical. So just spending four years in that environment kind of naturally gets you accustomed to learning how to prioritize. And you got to get comfortable, you know, letting some things go, it's kind of the, the metaphor of, you know, what are the, the rubber balls that can bounce and what are the glass balls that can't be dropped because they'll break, but it's a four-year program. You know, I'll say that's an accelerated program these days. It's not a five or a six year deal. So it's four years are failing. And it's a packed four years. The summers involve a summer training. So you go out into the fleet and join up with ships or Marine Corps units or submarine units and get a taste of what it's like to be in the fleet. And now upon graduation there you graduate. It's also your commission days. So you go from a midshipman to an Ensign in the Navy or a second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps.

John:
You graduated at a pretty unique time in world history.

Adam Weiner:
Well, obviously 9-11 is, you know, a day we won't ever forget. And certainly changed the dynamic of many things in May of 2001 was when I graduated. So to us at the time, right? Yeah.

John:
Is when for you, or maybe this is how it goes with most people in Naval Academy that decided they want to be a SEAL. When did you decide you wanted to be a SEAL?

Adam Weiner:
I made a conscious decision my sophomore year, because there was just a tremendous amount of growth that I needed to accomplish if it was even going to be a reasonable quest. So you're already under a lot of stress for your time, you know, and you have to pass your classes, otherwise you're not going to graduate. So I just was pretty thoughtful about it and made a decision that I did want to put in for it. And the only way I could put in for reasonably speaking to have any shot at making it, I had had to get a lot stronger. So I started carving out the time saying, you know, it's okay. The worst thing that happens is you get stronger and you don't get it, but it's okay. You still graduate. You can still serve. And there's other opportunities that I would have been very happy and proud to do, but I wanted to be a SEAL. And so I just started taking the requisite steps to prepare myself. So that was my sophomore year.

John:
Is there like a, a path or things that you, somebody would do normally if you'd make that decision at some point that these, other than what you just said, the things that you were doing is there, is there some like unofficial pattern or path or something that you take through the Naval Academy or

Adam Weiner:
Anything that you're going for? So in that case, there's to become a SEAL, there are certain things that you'd have to do physically. So I was concerned about the physical attributes of it, you know, and having a distance running background that wasn't one of the areas of concern. So it was really almost every other space. So I, I just started getting up early, getting out to the pull-up bars and just getting a lot of reps under me of a lot of push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups knowing that I had to be, I had be able to like, carry your body through the obstacle course. And I just, I was so far from what I had seen was necessary. And so I guess what I'm trying to say is it's different relative to the strengths that a person has, because those are different. And there's certain things that are critical.

Adam Weiner:
So certain weaknesses that you have, you don't have to be the best at it, but you have to be over a certain bar. And so that's how I structured my training. And I think that's natural. I don't think that was unique. I think anybody that would go for something like that is going to key in, on those areas that they're concerned about, you know, the, the critical failure line. And as far as like a path at the Naval Academy, there kind of was an unofficial path because you see the same people at the pool, at the pull-up bar doing similar type workouts. And, you know, there's a friendship that builds there. And if not a friendship, there's a deep mutual respect cause you're all kind of have some of the same, you know, as you get closer to your, into your junior year, some of the same tryout gates, there's certain milestones that you have to participate in to put in for it.

John:
Okay, what is it about SEALs that makes them different than other special ops or special forces?

Adam Weiner:
Good question. It's actually one, I think the military wrestles with a lot, but I, I would say it's just the maritime component of it. So the, at a very fundamental level that the, the SEAL community, you know, that the forefathers and SEAL communities, underwater demolition teams, so that's, so they got their start in the water and demolition. And so the, the overlap, as it relates to let's say, army special forces or, you know, air force, combat controllers or PJ's is the SEALs are coming from the water. So coming from the water, going over the beach, then going on in patrol, or then going potentially through a house, but probably not an ideal setup. And then it just so happens that nowadays in the service, there is a lot of overlap in the missions, but I think the differentiator for the SEAL community is that there's something that requires over the beach or underwater. It's not to say that some of the other services don't do that because clearly, you know, the Marines spend plenty of time coming from the water, but in this spec ops realm, the SEAL community spends more time and resources training to that mission set.

John:
Okay. So like a fictional situation where we need the SEALs, like, what is the, what's the job that you guys are designed to do?

Adam Weiner:
So the acronym stands for sea air land SEAL, and that's referencing the ability to be able to, to serve the function of surveillance, reconnaissance direct action and a host of others, but I'll kind of leave it. Those is like some basic big umbrellas of mission sets and be able to do those missions starting and leaving from the sea, the air or the land. And again, I think what differentiates the SEAL community is the, the level at which we can do those missions and still come from the sea and go back out to the sea.

John:
Okay. So you graduated from the Naval Academy and at that point you're you want to be a SEAL. So do you apply to be a SEAL? And if so, what happens from there?

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. So you do so everybody at the service academy puts in an application, if you will, there's a process of call it service selection, you know, what warfare community you want to be a part of an aviator, drive submarines, drive ships, be a Navy SEAL. So, yeah, so you put in your application and there there's a process. There's, you know, each community has an interview board and there's they call it the needs of the Navy. So there's a certain amount of spots available. Billets is the word that they would use. And, you know, it's a numbers game. Some communities have more spots than others. My year it was very selective. The SEAL community, it's always selective meaning there's, there's more people that put in for it than they have built available. So there were 16 spots in my year for, for our class and I'd say just shy of a hundred put in for it.

Adam Weiner:
And it was a great company. And to this day, I'd say it's one of the most kind of humbling in a positive way. I mean, I couldn't believe that I was one of 16 from the group that put in, but it just really betting that that's the process. So then what happens is, okay, then, you know, that that's about it. Does that happen right before you start second semester? I think, or right. Yeah. Right about then. So you got about a semester to go before you graduate, you know what you're going to do. And upon graduation, you know, you literally get orders, paper, print it out. And your orders from the Naval Academy to, in the case of the SEAL, you going out to basic underwater, demolition SEAL school in Coronado, California, and, and you'll have a different start date. So they'll kind of stagger out of the 16, you know, four would be in a certain month and for another, for like three months later and you, you have a class and there was a BUD/S class number. So like I was BUD/S class 238.

John:
How many people are in that class?

Adam Weiner:
So we started, we started with 150 and we didn't finish. We finish, we certainly didn't finish with 150, but yeah, the class, the classes they can't, I don't think they can take more than 150. It's kinda kind of a cap on the program they're running, but maybe, maybe they can, or now I'm not sure.

John:
It sounds like anywhere between one and 16 of them came from the Naval Academy, where did the other, where the other people come from?

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. So there's, so there's a certain percentage of the folks that are officers and that's a smaller number. Our class had a lot of officers think normally you'd have like 8%, maybe, you know, five to 10% of a class is going to be officers. And then the rest are enlisted guys, meaning they're coming from either the fleet or they came, I'll say kind of straight from bootcamp. And the other officers are coming from another officer, a session program, if not the Naval Academy. So there, they were part of a ROTC unit at Penn State University, let's say, or there are guys that go through officer candidate school, and then they come out to SEAL training. But I'd say on the officer side, those are the three paths. And then the rest of the classes enlisted sailors that were either in the fleet and work their way to earn a spot, to go over to BUD/S, or they kind of came straight through from bootcamp. And there's different reasons for why somebody can and can't do that. But that, that, that's kind of your, that's your group that makes up the 150.

John:
So how long does BUD/S last?

Adam Weiner:
So it's about six months, you know, through, is that right? The, the phases first phase, there's three phases to call, you know, two months of phase, not quite, and it's front loaded on the attrition. So there's hell week is kind of this storied crucible. And that happens the fourth week, the third or the fourth week. So

John:
Yeah, I think that's what everybody knows about or romanticizes about the SEALs is how we can get in wet and Sandy and all that, you know? I, I can't even, I'm not gonna do it any justice as far as what happens there, but that that's where most people leave. If they're going to leave, is that right?

Adam Weiner:
That's what the numbers show. And that was certainly the case with my class. And typically that's the, the trend. So you will, there's a tremendous amount of attrition before you even start hell week. Like my class, we were, we lost a third of the class just in those first three weeks. So then we had a hundred in hell week, and then we finished hell week with, with 36 standing on the beach. So then, you know, you go from 150 to 36 and you're a month in. And so now it really kind of narrows the focus harder to hide.

John:
But there's still attrition after that. Right.

Adam Weiner:
There is it's much less, but yeah, there definitely is. Yeah.

John:
Is that mostly due to like injury or some sort of physical thing that may be out of their control?

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. Generally speaking, well injury for sure. Unfortunately, and then also just a standard of performance. So pool comp was one that almost got me. So that's where, since you're like crawling on all fours, the bottom of the pool with your diving gear on, and the instructors just tackle you underwater and tie all your hoses into knots and you have to like undo everything under water. So that'll get a lot of people and it's just a standard, you know, it's not, you got four shots at it. You fail, you fail. Land nav is one that sometimes we'll get some people that's in third phase, sometimes on the range, you got guys that just struggle to understand the safety issues with the firearms and safety violations can get somebody dropped from the program. So that happens, but those are, that starts to get into the onesie twosies ground. But clearly, you know, that's pretty painful for a guy when they're that far through the program and they get bumped from land nav or making safety violations on the range.

John:
You mentioned underwater, I'm fascinated by underwater. Take me under water. What, what kind of things do you guys do underwater? Where, I mean, are you, are you always with air? I mean, they're, they're tying up your tubes and your, you can't breathe. You go through training about holding breath and, and those kinds of things?

Adam Weiner:
So ironically there's no, there's no intense training on breath holding. Cause I, I kinda, I was stationed out in Hawaii. So there were guys that were getting into free diving and stuff. So I, I have seen in witness incredible breath holds. I, I can not hold a candle to. It's more about just being comfortable under water and yeah, you're going to have to be able to hold your breath for a little bit, but nothing, you know, no one wants to caliber breath is going on. It's more about it's getting now. It's kind of dark and scary and being able to just keep your composure and still accomplish what you have to do. I think that's the goal. And so the training, you know, creates certain, certain milestones to kind of help you get to that point. You know, one of the things that you'll do in second phase is you, they call it combat swimmer.

Adam Weiner:
So you're, you have essentially a compass and, you know, watch and you have to figure out, you call it your kick count. And you're kind of, you're doing land navigation. If you will underwater with your compass and they drop you off at a starting point and underwater, you kind of have to navigate your way to appear. Let's say so it's, it's pretty overwhelming. Cause you're kind of like the first time you hear this, like, come on seriously, but you listen to what they say and it works as it's, it's amazing. Like just thinking about it now kind of blows me away now I'm in my, yeah. Married with three kids, domesticated, not something I'm suiting up to do these days.

John:
So when they drop you off or are you in a group of people or you by yourself or both for those types of training missions.

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. You're never going to be by yourself. So that's just kind of one of the, the rules of the community. So we're all about teams and so the, the, the smallest you'd ever slimmed down would just be with a partner called a swim buddy. And as a matter of fact, that's how you do all your dives. You always have a swim buddy. So yeah. So that, that, part's pretty cool. You know, it'd be rough to be all on. You're all by yourself. But yeah, to answer your question, they, you know, you plan a dive, there's a known point where everybody gets dropped off. So let's say you got like a dozen guys, you've got six swim pairs and kind of everyone just kind of rolls out side of the boat and off you go. And ironically, like, you're worried about bumping into, you know, like a dolphin or something under there, but it's generally, it's usually just the other guys. It's like another swim pair. You end up getting tangled up with some that

John:
You've blown stuff up underwater.

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. Which I don't want to leaves a lot to be desired. I wish I could have had a chance to blow up more stuff underwater, but I've done training with underwater demolition. Sadly. I've never really blown up something for, for good reason for mission. Just preparing for the mission that in that case we never got called to do, but yeah, that's gotta be pretty cool though. It's great. Yeah. Some good pictures too. Right. You got to back before digital, when you actually had to catch it on film and to try to get the big water balloon coming up there.

John:
Yeah. Get the one shot and then you had to get it developed. Right. That's right. I don't know. I don't know if people even know that anymore.

Adam Weiner:
So I, that was right when I was going through training. Cause I remember I got my first digital camera just as I was going through the advanced side. I remember I got my first digital camera. That would be like 2000. It's like 2002 timeframe.

John:
So you make it through BUD/S and you're now a SEAL. I'm sure there's a pretty big ceremony for that. And the small number of guys that made it through all that you guys are probably a pretty good group or a pretty tight bunch of guys by the end of that time. Right?

Adam Weiner:
Yes. Some just, again, anything in my, you know shared misery can bring a group together.

John:
And then you get your first deployment call or mission call or whatever, whatever it's called, what's going through your head. I mean, at this point, this is, this is really happening.

Adam Weiner:
Yeah. And then we're really blessed in the SEAL community to get so much solid training. So for me, there's quite a timeline there even relative to, you know, good friends that I have, that when it's the Marine Corps, I'm still on the advanced side of trainings and they're like deployed to Iraq and going up to Kodiak, Alaska for winter worker training. But I started BUD/S in September, October of 2001. And I showed up to my first SEAL team 2003. Yeah. It's like April of 2003. So essentially, you know, it's like two years of training before you show up kind of day one at your first SEAL team. And then you got to get onto a platoon, which I would say normally happens fast, but sometimes there's a bit of a backup. And so in my case, I kind of had to wait for a little bit to get on a platoon, but to answer your question.
Adam Weiner:
Yeah. Eventually I got on my first platoon, there was a lot of tragic loss that the team had faced prior to our deployment. And a lot of people familiar with like the lone survivor stories. So I'm familiar with that. So those, those guys were on alpha platoon. I was on Charlotte platoon. There's only four platoons at the team I was at out in Hawaii SEAL delivery vehicle team one that, that obviously, you know, makes it, I'll say more real for lack of a better term, but you know, what it did was, you know, you go around to, to mourn the loss of your friends and you're attending those funerals and kind of see the aftermath of, kind of people that have their affairs in order or don't have their affairs in order. And it's not coming at you, you're at the moment from like an administrative perspective, but really just kind of appreciating that, you know, you love your friends, you love your family and it's bad enough, you know, if you're not coming home from deployment alive, I'll say, but you really want the people to know, you know, like, you're you did, you did what you wanted to do.

Adam Weiner:
Like saying I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees. And so I, I re I remember for me, I was, that was kind of what was that? 24 after all those, like when that happened, I was on my first platoon. We had a huge mission that we were training for. So there's heavy stress in the platoon. And I just remember, like, I actually sat down and I had, when I had some time off and I like wrote my will and I wrote a letter to my brother and, you know, it was a little like overly dramatic, probably just cause I was emotional after losing those guys. But it, it was actually really helpful cause it just kind of set my mind right. It's kind of like, yeah, this is, you know, there's no guarantees signed up for this proud to be a part of it sort of means it's part of the service and not breaking any new precedent and you know, it's mission focus and it's a weird place to be when you're more scared of failing than you are dying. But that's where I was on my first mission. And you know, I, I'm not, I don't know if I could have got there mentally, you know, if those guys didn't come back, I'd like to say that I could have, but that wasn't my personal experience. So I don't know. But yeah, it's, you really got to get your head in a very serious place and, and you're hanging it out there. And we were like that, that first mission on that platoon that we had, it was, it was a big deal and thankfully it was a huge success. So I don't know a little bit, long-winded answer to a short question, but it's happened to some, some, some harsh memories from, from that timeframe for me anyways.

John:
I'm sure it does. You went on to, I'm probably going to butcher the rankings and stuff here. I don't know them, but did you go on to be a commander?

Adam Weiner:
I phone commander is what we'd say in the Navy. Right? So a Lieutenant commander will answer the phones commander. I would never do that, but so yeah, I, I came off active duty. I had 14 years. Yeah, just over 14 years of active duty time. And I was a Lieutenant commander and then I joined the reserves for a little bit and I actually made commander in the reserves. But as far as my active duty time, I got out as a Lieutenant. Now,

John:
What is the role of the Lieutenant commander in the SEALs?

Adam Weiner:
Well, you know, Lieutenant commander is just a rank and it, it's more important. It's kind of like, what's your function? Like, what's your role? It depends where you are for me. You know, I, I was an operations officer at a SEAL team and I rose up to become the executive officer to a SEAL team. So on the operations officer, that's kind of the nerve center, you're kind of making sure all the platoons, get their training and get their gear, their deployment missions, their training lines up with their missions. You know, all the logistics are lined up to get everybody out the door. And that's just when you were in Garrison that doesn't, it's not what happened. You know, once you're deployed, then, then you've got all deployment responsibilities that an executive officer is kind of your second in command. So you've got a commanding officer. That's the top banana, that's a commander of full commander. And the Lieutenant commander executive officer is supporting the commanding officer. Generally speaking like a simple way of saying it is the, the operations officer is taking care of everything outside the fence line. So you think you actually have a physical geographic physical location of the team. And the executive officer is all the issues inside the fence line to include, you know, like family issues, personal issues, pay issues. And that that's a lot of how the functions get split up. The CO's just kind of in charge of everything is up and out and down and in when they want it to be. But I, I guess my answer to you is somebody tells me they're a Lieutenant commander. It doesn't mean much to me other than they served between, let's say nine and 14 years on active duty, you know, but they could be the best officer that I've ever seen, or it could be somebody that leaves a lot to be desired. Typically once somebody is given the responsibility of a certain function, that will kind of be an indicator of how they're thought of, of hopefully their peers, but then, you know, certainly the more senior members of the community and the boards that kind of place those positions. So is that it's just military culture. It's just kind of like, I'll say it's similar to corporate net, you know, I'm sure there's politics involved on both sides there.

John:
During your 14 years as a SEAL, I know you can't get real specific on anything, but were there places that you were that you're just like, I can't believe I'm here. I mean, you were, were you lots of places? Were there things you did where you're like, I just, I can't believe I'm doing this right now? Like is this real?

Adam Weiner:
Yes. And yes. Yeah. And you just, you just get used to that. It's kinda like one of the rules that I had when I went into SEAL training was expect the unexpected, you know, so the only disappointment to myself would be, you know, with, you know, your internal dialogue, why are you surprised? Like if you totally appreciate that everything is going to be unexpected, nothing should surprise you. And that worked well for me. And so I just kind of carried that through my experience on active duty, you know, you're so limited in what, you know, you know, you're always fighting the learning curve of there's so much more you should know, and then you have no idea where they're going to send you and then what mission is. So it's almost like there's not a lot of time to do the wow factor, but there is time to do it. And typically it's, you know, at the end of the day, when you can take a shower, you're like, where am I? Right. Like, you know, I'm in Bangladesh right now. It's like, wow, all right. Or on a nuclear submarine, you know, underway. And I loved it. I just feel lucky and blessed. I mean, I wanted to do it. And I was around amazing people. And it, it, at times it was a blast and you know, most of the time it was very hard work, but it was meaningful work. And then there are times when it was a blast. So, you know, it was all good as far as I was concerned.

John:
And life after being in the Navy and, and being a SEAL you learned all kinds of invaluable things. And one of the most compelling things I've heard you talk about is intentionalism and mindset and, and coaching and all those types of things. So that's kind of what you do now.

Adam Weiner:
It is. I mean, that's been a passion of mine since I've gotten out a lot of people talk about the military transition from, you know, taking the uniform off to, you know, we'll say putting on the business attire for a civilian job. Of course it's a tough transition, but I mean, I'm just here to say for me, it's like, I think I'm just now finishing the transition. It's been over six years, I out in the summer of 2015 and knocking on the door here at 2021, it's been rough for me, meaning I've been disappointed in how I've been all over the place as far as like, you know, pick a profession like in stick to it. I'm not somebody who quits things obviously, but you know, it's this precious life of like, Hey, what are you going to dedicate yourself to? And I, and I can appreciate much more now being where I'm at, why so many veterans struggle with the transition, because you're so blessed to have like this purpose driven profession where you want to wear the uniform and you're, you're fighting for God and country that it just doesn't parallel over. And so there's a kind of a mourning period, I think personally, and to get over that and then just understand how you're going to repurpose yourself and still, still do good in other ways. But yeah, at least for me, it took me a while. The coaching piece was like my therapy with the transition. So, you know, I've had several corporate jobs, but I just wanted to, I missed the leadership. I missed like the mentoring and I couldn't believe what I was seeing in grown adults and leadership positions missing what I thought were kind of basic things to people that I worked with in the military. So I got real passionate about trying to share those techniques. So, like you say, intentionalism, and, you know, having a purpose, purposeful mindset and sharing with people, how I used that to make, you know, things I wanted to do real and not just allow them to be a dream, but be purposeful in reality and, and bridge that gap. And then I've kind of morphed that into really talking to just about individual character, because one of the things that's been real upsetting to see is there's so much sacrifice to individual character for just superficial crap, as it relates to positions with jobs, sales numbers. And I just watched people gradually good people chip away at their integrity because you know, they're going to get extra percentage here or there that's kind of been my, been a message that I really been sticking on is really. So I, I like to talk about journey greatly that it doesn't matter where you end up, it matters how you journey, you know, that's the real stuff. That's what you're most proud of. So I don't know at this point, what question you asked and how I'm talking about that, but you got me going a little bit on my soap box that way, so.

John:
You're also connected with Victory Strategies. What do you do with them?

Adam Weiner:
What happened was I actually started my own company and I'm terrible at marketing myself, I've learned. And I love to do the work and I've, you know, I'm married, I've got three young kids. And so I, I, wasn't going to make it, full-time doing the coaching. I was already in the finance space. I partnered with a great guy and I'm really enjoying being a financial planner full time. And then it was just kind of like a side household. So it was no big deal and I would do it occasionally. It was just much less. But then I got connected with Victory Strategies and it's just been, it's just a blessing. It really makes me believe it's not coincidence. Cause it's just such a great team. It's kind of this boutique consulting group that has great experience of success in different spaces. And we teach a lot of leadership, a lot of team building and do it in the form of executive coaching workshops in some keynote speaking. But that was just the perfect fit because what I love the most about Victory Strategies is this selfish piece of working alongside these other folks. And we're a little family, you know, we're a little, you know, in my work world that I, I still love like a little SEAL platoon where we kind of feed off each other and we share ideas and we can learn from each other. And then, you know, it's a lot of fun when we can go out as a group and we can help other people develop and we can actually see real progress. It's, you know, it's that old adage, the, the best gift in life is giving not receiving. So that is work that I love to do. And I'm really blessed that I get to do it with a great team and I don't have to worry about any of the marketing stuff. Yeah. They do a great job with the marketing and I just like doing the work and then you know, when there's work to do there, I do it. And I've really gotten to enjoy my day job, working with my clients, just doing retirement planning. I use a lot of the same skills I've learned in the Navy for risk mitigation and understanding the importance of contingency planning and just putting a lot of math behind it. So go figure all that math science curriculum from the Academy finally paid off for me. Right.

John:
It all comes full circle. All right, Adam. Well, we started with the banjos and the good old high school days and we ended with the family man possibly filling out spreadsheets and going to meetings and just living life as a former Navy SEAL. So I want to thank you for your service and anybody that served to protect our great country and everything you've done and continue to do in the future. And thanks for coming on with me. And hopefully we can, we can talk again.

Adam Weiner:
Well, I really appreciate it, John. I'd love that. And I think it's cool what you're doing. I love the title and we'll stay connected. I mean, the perspective you have with what you've gone through and just keeping the conversation going with your podcast. It's, it's great. And I really appreciate that. I had an opportunity to be a part of it. Thank you.

December 22, 2020

Sports Talk

 

Good friend and host of the Hustle and Pro Podcast, Kelly Walker stops by to talk sports and all that implies. We discuss aging with sports and how life changes impact the way we play and consume sports. 




Episode Transcript:

John:

My guest today is Kelly Walker. She hosts her own podcast called Hustle and Pro. She talks with people in the Dallas Fort Worth area about sports and all that that implies. So, I thought it would be a good idea to have her on with us and talk about sports as they pertain to me. So, Kelly, thanks for stopping by to talk sports.

Kelly Walker:

Thank you. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here to talk to you a little bit about a topic that I don't think you've covered too much in general yet, which is sports on your podcast?

John:

No, I haven't really. We did the few episodes ago. We had the National Blind Sports Week, and we talked about some sports but not anything really as it pertains to me personally about sports.

Kelly Walker:

Well, we will today. So, I have talked to you in front of my podcast audience before about some sports topics that kind of affect you personally, but now we get to flip it around and talk to your audience and tell them your sports story. I am excited about that.

John:

Yes, and this will probably be pretty quick, because I don't know if my sports stories have much depth. So your podcast is the Lifestyle Frisco Podcast. What is it you talk about?

Kelly Walker:

Right. So let's see. I'm about 90 episodes into talking sports. It's called Hustle and Pro Lifestyle. Frisco is the publisher here locally in the Frisco, Texas, area. My show is a weekly show where I talk sports; From Youth to Pro is my tagline. I get Frisco ISD student athletes in and talk about what they've experienced so far. Maybe they've committed or signed to go play in college. We just talk to them about just how they juggle their life. Then, we have so many professional sports here in town that I'm lucky enough to get to work with those teams and get professional athletes in the studio. We talked to Texas Legends basketball players, they are the Dallas Mavericks minor league team, basically. I talked to FC Dallas players, which is our MLS team. They have a development team also. The Dallas Stars are here. We have a new rugby team coming. We have all kinds of stuff here in Frisco. So, I just talk to people who either play sports or used to play sports about whatever their sports iinterests are. We just chat, and it's awesome. I love it.

John:

Who is the coolest person or maybe conversation you've had?

Kelly Walker:

Well, I do have a favorite

John:

Besides me obviously.

Kelly Walker:

Yes, your episode, definitely tops the charts so far. So, I mean at my pro athlete favorites - Reggie Canon is one of my favorites. He's one of the bigger names that I've interviewed; at the time, he was an FC Dallas player. He plays for the US men's national team and he has, let's see several months ago has moved on to play in Portugal. So, he's no longer an FC Dallas guy, but he's a homegrown local kid. When I interviewed him, I think he had just turned 21. That was a fun interview. I had been a fan of his for a few years already. It was fun to just get him in the studio and pick his brain and hear his goals about wanting to go play in Europe. So watching him then proceed after that and get to fulfill some of his goals and dreams now is really fun to watch. So, Reggie Canon is one of my tops, but then even some of the younger kids like Hannah, Mondell my student athlete. She is a favorite interview because she was a soccer player. Also, I am from Wakeland high school. Just to hear how poised and goal orientated this young lady was, was really impressive. I've since watched her go off and play college soccer; the things she's going to accomplish are pretty amazing. So, those are a couple of my faves so far,

John:

I think it's sports that has created a friendship between you and I. Does that sound about right?

Kelly Walker:

Yeah, it does. It all goes back to, I think I've said soccer now three times. So, it really goes back to soccer because the connection that you and I have is my husband, was your roommate back in college at Texas Tech, The first memories about knowing you guys was on the soccer field when we were playing intramural soccer and coed intramural. That's literally the first time I remember even seeing my husband, Ryan Walker, was during a soccer game because he showed up at halftime once. You were on that team and we had other mutual friends on that team. Yeah, soccer is how you and I originally started to know each other.

John:

It is the soccer that binds us.

Kelly Walker:

Yes. It is. It is. Then we also played other intramural sports and you coached me in a couple of sports. I don't know if we actually were on the same team as players together except for soccer.

John:

We were on the same team as soccer players. I don't think there was a coed basketball team. So yeah, we coached basketball and flag football.

Kelly Walker:

There was a coed softball team, but I don't think you and I were on the same team. I think you were in the stands with Ryan watching one or two of those games possibly, but I don't think you were on that team, right?

John:

No, for some reason I've never been a big softball player. I don't know why, but I just know I was not on the softball team.

Kelly Walker:

The infamous game; I thought you were there. I don't know if you remember this or not. It was October of 1997 when I got hurt.

John:

1997, Kelly, that was a long time ago.

Kelly Walker:

I know. I mean, I can't forget it because I got really hurt. Ryan remembers it because he was sitting there watching. I just assumed you were probably with him watching also. I think it was actually one of y'all's mutual friend Kevin's team. I was on his team or something. I don't know. I can't remember that part of it. But yeah, I got knocked out. I got hit in the head really hard with the softball that night and got knocked out cold. My sister, Sarah, took me to the emergency room. I had been in college for like a month and got hurt.

John:

That'sa great introduction to college life.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah, it was so embarrassing. I had a huge lump on my head. Well, I was a base runner and you know, safety wasn't top of mind so much, I guess. So I don't think we wore helmets. I was a base runner on first, the ball got hit into center field. The centerfielder got it to the second baseman quickly; he thought he could turn a double play. He catches the ball and turns to throw it to first, but I'm like a yard away from him. So his throwing it to first to get me out as a runner, hit me in the head, like before he even let go of it. It's almost like he punched me in the face with the ball in his hand, if that makes sense. The stitches cut my head open and knocked me out. It was memorable.

John:

I guess the runner at first was safe then.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah, sure, probably, I wish I knew who was on that team. All I know is my sister, but I don't know who else was on that one. It was for sure. coed because it was a guy who hit me . I just had one bloody sorority t-shirt to show for it and a big giant lump on my head for awhile. I know you're not here to hear my softball injuries stories.

John:

Well, not because it's not interesting, but more of it's maybe a downer to hear about the iinjury.

Kelly Walker:

Stories, right. I bounced back. I still play softball for fun even as a 40 something year old. So, it has a good ending. So, like we just said, we met each other at Tech on a soccer field playing intramurals, but I don't know much about like your time playing sports before that. I just assume you played all the normal childhood sports like my husband played growing up. What did you play as a kid and loved the most sports wise

John:

Soccer was probably the one I played the most. That should be no surprise to you, but I also played baseball and basketball. I was tall for my age, so that kind of lent me to a basketball, although I was not that good at basketball, I did play, and it was fun. I played thinking if there was anything else. So ,basketball and baseball,

Kelly Walker:

Well, through like middle school. I'm assuming at Plano, you guys went to competitive high school basketball. Right?

John:

I did not play basketball at the high school level for the school. I did play in the rec leagues in the city. So we had between the YMCA and in where I was growing up, the, the city sports authority had the city leagues. So yeah, I played through high school. I played basketball.

Kelly Walker:

Oh good; okay. I didn't realize that. So, you say you weren't very good.

John:

That is why I was just the coach. I was qualified to be the coach in college because so much basketball experience. Right? Sure. Baseball - I probably stopped playing baseball I want to say at the end of middle school. So I didn't play baseball after middle school, but I continued to play soccer and basketball.

Kelly Walker:

That's a pretty normal cutoff for baseball to play through middle school because then you get that. Okay. Am I competitive enough to play for my high school? But if you aren't, the rec leagues kind of water it down and stop really? I don't know. They sort of stopped happening at least nowadays. That's how baseball is. So that's pretty normal, I think for to baseball fizzle out,

John:

But there are lots of basketball options at least back, you know, for me, when I was doing it. There was very competitive soccer leagues outside of high school. There were pretty competitive basketball leagues outside of high school and in our area. So yeah, we played those pretty regularly. I never played football.

Kelly Walker:

I was going to say, I didn't hear football, which is, you know, another one I, I would maybe assume you never even played like little kid football.

John:

No, I ran track in high school or sorry in middle school. I'm not fast. I ran the 800 meter and the mile and it was short-lived if you were not fast.

Kelly Walker:

Super fast at it. I never got into running ever in middle school.

John:

I don't like running. You know, it's like, you've seen the movie anchorman, right? Where Ron Burgundy is explaining jogging. You know, or you just go running for no apparent reason. That's that's the way I feel about running. So, unless I'm running from a bear or my kids, there's really no reason to run just for the heck of it. S Interestingly though, when I was in middle school, probably sixth grade I was running the half mile IN OUR FIRST track meet. I remember the bus ride to the track meet. I don't remember what I was eating, but it was probably candy or some sort of snack. I got about a lap and a half through the two lap 800 meter race and lost the contents of my snacks. I hadn't quite figured that part out yet, but it was, it was pretty funny.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. I don't just like recreationally run either. I never got into running as a sport when I was younger, I went to a K through eight private school growing up. I guess the sports offered were probably just limited. We had the basics, but not track so, was never on my radar. I never really learned how to be a good runner. As an adult, I try to run for exercise, but I don't enjoy it. When you said that, it reminded me of Ryan. The only time he's running is if he's running after a ball on a soccer field. Then he can run forever. He's conditioned to run after a soccer ball, but not just out in the street. If I say, "you want go on a jog? " He's like, what are you even talking about? Why?

John:

Yeah, I can relate to that. I don't like to run either, and I've explained that to other people. When you're playing soccer, you end up running a ton in soccer. If you add up all the running, you do, it's a lot. That seems like productive, running to me, not just going out to get some fresh air.

Kelly Walker:

When you're running after something, you're moving in a certain direction for a reason, and you sprinting - starting and stopping. One year I bought him a chip that goes in your cleats. It's like a USB where you can put it in your computer and it'll tell you your stats. They're really popular now. When we did this, he would chart his running in a game. It would tell you your burst speed and how many miles you ran during that time period. It was interesting because sometimes he would run like seven miles in a game, and you just don't feel like you just did that. If you're playing two 45 minute halves, it's a full blown soccer game and you're a midfielder, like he is, you run the whole time. You're just constantly on the go. What position you play when you play soccer?

John:

I was the usually defense. Defense would be generally what it was. Sometimes I played striker forward, maybe a little bit of midfield, but I was mostly defense. I don't know if they still call it this or not, but sweeper was generally where I hung out. I was the last resort.

Kelly Walker:

I still call it sweeper or stopper is another one. There's so many terms for each position. It's kind of funny because it depends on the era in which you grew up, what you call different positions.

John:

I don't know why. It's probably because of my skillset was why I was in that position, but I'm not generally a defensive guy. I would prefer to be on offense, but I don't think I had the finesse with my feet to be a very productive striker. As I aged, I was in defense, but as a kid, a very little kid, you know, five, six, seven years old, I did score a lot of goals back in those days, My offense prowness didn't age well, apparently. I did like foiling the other offensive guys. That was a lot of fun. A sport that we haven't talked about, which I don't know if that was really a sport for me was cycling. I think we'll talk about this later, too. I did ride bikes quite a bit as a youngsteras kids do.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. Just like neighborhood bike gangs with your friends getting into trouble.

John:

My dad was big into biking. He would ride on long bike tours. We are from Ohio. There's a tour called TOSRV, Tour of the Sourtern Ohio River Valley. It's like the Tour de France, but it's in the southern part of Ohio. I don't know how many miles it is, but it's a two day tour. They started in Columbus, which is the state capital and rode I am guessing about 80 miles to an end point. Then they stayed overnight and rode back the next day. That's a pretty big time. My dad has done that a few times; I can remember him doing that. We would always bike a lot. My brother, my dad and I would go out on bike rides a lot. In addition to just goofing around with my buddies, we did some biking too,

Kelly Walker:

So yeah, you're at a little higher level then than the old neighborhood bike gang. If you actually had a dad that was, a cyclist and knew how to cycle 80 miles, that's pretty impressive. What about rollerblading? This was big when you were growing up,

John:

My brother did that. He is a few years younger than me and he had roller blades. I didn't, but I could squeeze into his occasionally. I did roller skate a lot. We had a skating rink where we were growing up. We did a lot of roller skating, but I didn't roller blade. I never owned a pair of roller blades. My brother went on to play ice hockey which kind of lends itself to rollerblading.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah, sure. You gotta know how to rollerblade or skate if you're going to play hockey. What about skateboarding?

John:

I did have a skateboard. I had a Back to the Future skateboard, which will tell you everything you need to know about skateboarding. People who were real skateboarders, did not have a Back to the Future skateboard.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. It might've been a little gimmicky, a little too obvious.

John:

I don't know what they had, but it wasn't a Back to the Future skateboard.

Kelly Walker:

What they all had were the build your own kind. You buy the pieces.

John:

I don't know all the pieces,

Kelly Walker:

I was not a skateboarder, but they would build their own to make it hardcore.

John:

Yeah. I remember. It would be the board with a gritty kind of sandpaper stuff on the top, but it was covered in stickers and stuff on the bottom.,

Kelly Walker:

The graffiti looking. Yeah. Yeah.

John:

No, I wasn't a big skateboarder, although I had one,

Kelly Walker:

But no, neither was I.

John:

Speaking of baseball though, we did play a lot of whiffle ball.

Kelly Walker:

Oh yeah, sure. Baseballs like backyard type of whiffle balls. Yeah.

John:

Where I was growing up in Ohio, we had much bigger backyards than we have here in Texas. We had about four or five venues in the neighborhood and whiffle ball was a big player.

Kelly Walker:

Well, baseball is awesome because you can swing as hard as you want. The only bad parts are the sting of the ball if you get hit on your skin or hitting it over a fence and having to go ask a neighbor to get it.

John:

Sandlot,

Kelly Walker:

I just recorded a podcast episode about favorite sports movies and Sandlot was on my list. I actually realized my top five were all baseball movies. It was kind of funny doing my list because I thought, oh, they'll be all over the place. Once I had actually narrowed them down, I apparently most enjoy watching baseball movies.

John:

I'm the same way. What are your top five?

Kelly Walker:

O, I don't have my notes In front of me, but off the top of my head, Field of Dreams is a favorite because I know it's unrealistic, but I like the magical part of it. I love James Earl Jones, his voice and all, I love the whole thing. I love all of it. A League of their Own is tops because I've always played softball. I just think it's a cool story of watching those ladies play. 42 is on my list. It's a hard to watch movie sometimes, but it's important. It play's every year near Jackie Robinson's birthday. I do see it when it's on TV; I stop and watch it and I try to make my kids watch it with me because it's important. I like Sandlot because it's cute. I just think it's a funny movie, and just the love of baseball is cool. Moneyball is one of my top lists because once I started to earn about the numbers and the statistical part of baseball and learn about the story of that movie, I just thought it was cool. So I liked that one too, but I have a ton, but those are my top baseball movies.

John:

I seem to like baseball movies too. I think on your podcast, that Bull Durham was my favorite sports movie. It's just classic.

Kelly Walker:

So on this episode that I was just talking about our mutual friend, Brandon May was my co-host. I wouldn't say guest because he sits in with me sometimes to help me out with his, as you know, his basketball knowledge. Brandon's favorite movie of all time was also Bull Durham. You guys have that in common? I knew I liked that guy. Then we had three of us, our other coworker, Daniel. His favorite sports movie was Space Jam.

John:

Yeah.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. He gave a very compelling argument as to why he loved Space Jam and why we shouldn't have laughed at him when he said Space Jam. Anyhow, sports movies, are a whole other podcast, John.

John:

Yeah. We could probably talk a few hours about that. Yes, for surMaybe next time.

Kelly Walker:

Yes. Okay. So I know the sports that you played when you were little, then how did that mature as you matured, What did you like to keep playing the most? As we just talked about, I knewyou were playing soccer intramurals when we got to Tech, but what did you keep up with the most?

John:

Keep up from a playing perspective?

Kelly Walker:

Well, I guess both playing and watching. I mean, those are the two parts of it.

John:

Yeah. I stuck with soccer probably the most. I never really got into softball and baseball kind of faded in middle school, but I would guess that soccer and basketball are the ones that I really stuck with me.

Kelly Walker:

As far as watching goes, I mean, you were always a football watcher or no.

John:

Yes, yes. Always a football watcher, but I think probably the sport that I like to watch the most is baseball.

Kelly Walker:

You don't hear that every day. I love to watch baseball too.

John:

Yeah. I don't know why that is, but there's something about a baseball game.

Kelly Walker:

Yes. There's a lot of people that can't watch baseball games. They think it's too slow and boring, but I like when I'm really wanting to watch a game. I love every second in between when they're just talking about pitch count and different pitches they're going to throw and watching the guys lead off and just all the different nuances of the sport. I love really getting to focus on and watch a game. I haven't lately because when the Rangers aren't playing well, they' are my team. I'm from Texas and I've always lived here. So I'm a Rangers fan. So when they're not playing well, especially seasons like 2020, it was really hard to like sit down and really be totally into a full game. When they have good seasons and there is something to entice me to really get in and watch every game, I love it.

John:

Also, regarding baseball, I think I would really get into having the Sunday night game on ESPN. It was always a good game. It was interesting because I like football too, but I found myself not being interested in Monday night football as much in the last say 10 years, just for whatever reason. I don't why, but football you know, the teams I like to follow, I like to follow, but if the Monday night football game wasn't a team I was interested in I didn't really want to watch it. But Sunday night baseball for me, for some reason always seemed like an intriguing matchup. It was always a good thing. I can always remember wanting to sit down and watch the Sunday night baseball game.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. Same here with certain football games. Unless it's my team. I sometimes can't get into it. Unless it's a big storyline, you know, it's a big rivalry game, or I don't know, some play off implication or something major happening or just a player that you like really watch. Like I'll watch Chief's games now because I'm in the home stand. And I just want to see what he's up to and that kind of thing. But overall, I'm, I'm pretty much just going to be watching the Cowboys and whoever they're up against it that week. So what about you though, splitting time between a couple of States growing up what's your football flavor?

John:

Well, my primary football flavor would be the Cincinnati Bengals and pretty close to that would be the Dallas Cowboys. But for the last 15 to 20 years, that's been some pretty tough watching and following actually longer for the Bengals. The Bengals were in the Super Bowl, I think in 1986, seven or eight, I don't remember what year it was.

Kelly Walker:

That's dry spells then, but hey, you know, it always comes around. So you've put in a lot of time as both of those fans. So when yours rolls around, you're going to get hit with like some really good football years for both of your teams here pretty soon, you know?

John:

Yeah. Well, yeah. That's wat I am tinking. Yeah. If the Bengals were there, let's just say 87, of course they lost. Joe Montana beat them in the Super Bowl. Then skip forward about three or four years later, the Cowboys start just knocking it out. So tere is three, three early nineties. Cowboys teams were just in the age group that I was in, and that was, that was just unbelievable.

Kelly Walker:

That was it. Yeah. 93, four or five or three, four, six.

John:

Four, six. But there has not been anything for the Bengals or the Cowboys since.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. Play off games here and there, but nothing to really write home about. it's tough, but that's why we stick with sports because it's not always unless you're in Boston or LA. Lately, it's not always winning all the time. Right. You stick with it and hope that your team comes around because there's always a chance that next season something could happen. So we always go back and keep watching.

John:

But like life, you know, you don't win every time.

Kelly Walker:

Right. But you've got to go back and see if you can get better. When you're talking about football and watching, I'm curious, consuming sports in person, ignore the fact that we're not really able to be in person at sports like we would the rest of our lives right now, ignoring that. How do you feel about consuming sports in person versus TV or listening to the radio?

John:

Yeah, that's an interesting question. That certainly has changed for me since the visual changes that I've had. I would love to go to sporting events prior to vision change. We did have season tickets to those Cowboy years. I was at a lot of those games and the Rangers, the Dallas Stars, all the Dallas teams and I couldn't get enough of that. It was just awesome. Especially at the age I was, but after the vision loss, it's not as exciting to be there mostly because I can't see what's going on. For example, a Cowboys game, is what I typically would do. And I've been to some Cowboys games after vision change. So for me, I'm there for the excitement of being there, and I can see. You know, I've talked about in previous episodes. I've talked about my visual acuity and how that translates to what I can actually see. That's really tough to describe, which is why I call myself ambiguously blind. And being in a sporting arena of a football game or a basketball game or any game, I really can't get a good feel for, I usually feed off of crowd noise. If it's a basketball game, and I'm at the home team's arena and everybody goes nuts after somebody throws the ball up, then I just assume theymade it.

Kelly Walker:

Right. I can imagine though, after vision loss, being at a Cowboys game, I mean, that's a sport where as a spectator, you're watching and paying attention to, you know, the first down marker. Those are small details far away from you that you need to be aware of how far are they going? How far did they just go? You, probably sitting in the stands, can't see that and take that in. Right. So then you're just waiting to hear the reactions.

John:

Did he catch that? Did the tight end really throw a bad block or was it really holding or what was this person doing? I rely totally on the PA system, you know, to kind of know what's going on. But the thing that I would do to make it more palatable for me is I would bring a radio. You've seen those people in the stands that happens a lot more at baseball games, I think, but you see the people in the stands that are there, but they've got their headphones on because they're listening to the play by play. So for me to go to any event, I need to have the radio broadcast in my ears, or it's really meaningless for me to be there. So I will fight through the traffic to get through all the sea of people come in and go in a 40 bucks for a Coke and really not consume much of actually what's going on if I don't have access to the play-by-play or whatever.

Kelly Walker:

I mean, that makes total sense. Even me, I have no, you know, visual challenges of seeing anything out there Going into a Cowboys game isn't that great. I prefer watching them on TV so that I can watch it at my own pace. I can hear the announcers, I can see the replays and its just fine. it's, it's one of those sports that is not all it's cracked up to be being in person for me. Other sports I enjoy it. I love being at a Rangers game. We go to every FC Dallas home game. I do not like watching soccer on TV when I'm a season ticket holder and know how it feels to be a few rows up and seeing all the nuances and hearing the ball had hit their cleats and everything. But yeah, I can't even imagine why you would want to be at a Cowboys game.

John:

Yeah. I would say just to understand what it is like, just imagine you're there and close your eyes and see what you take in now. There's lots of stuff to take in. Don't get me wrong, there's lots of things to be heard and other things like that. But if, if you have the play-by-play in your ear, it makes it light years ahead. I will say play by plays are not equal among sports either. I don't know exactly why maybe because it's been broadcast so much or so long on a play by play basis. It's baseball. I generally, I'm a Texas Rangers fan too, and will listen to lots of Texas Rangers games and the great Eric Natel, I don't know what it is. I mean, he's got a soothing voice and a great sound and all that kind of stuff. His knowledge and everything is really great, but really I think any baseball broadcaster will they go through so many new details of things that the other sports do not, you know, I can remember, I can just hear Eric, Natel saying the color of the piping on the pants of the team that's playing, you know?

Kelly Walker:

Yes. Giving you such a description that you can paint that picture. You can see it in your head. You can see the font of the team's name or logo on their jersey and what colors they are. And, you know, the broadcaster gives you details about what the pitcher's doing.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. As you say, the breeze of the air, everything, like it's just that they give you so much information.

John:

Baseball is really a pleasure to listen to not to mention the fact that baseball is a talking sport anyway because there is a lot of downtime. There's so much time to fill that they give you all those details. I really like listening to baseball. I like watching baseball on TV, and I like really like listening to baseball. Even if I am going to be at at a game, I think the one I would like to be at the most would be a baseball game because of the amount of detail I can get.

Kelly Walker:

That's how I grew up. My dad watched Rangers games on the TV, but he listened to them on the radio and muted the TV. That's just sort of how I grew up. Those are the voices that I was used to hearing and the descriptions and just the way it was delivered. That's what I was used to. That's why I love baseball so much just because we were we watched every sport in our household. There's so much baseball to be watched that it feels like there was always a baseball game on. You said something a while ago that I wanted to ask you about as far as listening in. What about NASCAR and sports like that which are really designed for fans to be like listening in on the team's wavelength. Have you ever gotten into that?

John:

Just a little bit. For some reason, I'm not a big NASCAR guy. I don't hate it, but I'm not a lover either. So yeah, no. I've been to some NASCAR races. If people think baseball's boring, I don't know what to tell you about a NASCAR race. I mean, they go around in circles. I think they're obviously very talented and they do what they do at high speed and proximity. They are going 80 to 120 miles an hour within inches of another car. That is pretty amazing. No, I've never listened to that.

Kelly Walker:

It's amazing. I give them all the props, but I don't get it either. I don't get when the people around us are wearing eadpones and listening to te feed. We have been a Texas Motor Speedway for Indy car and NASCAR a couple of times. I guess they're listening to the guys talk, communicate with each other with pit stops and different things. I never really dove into it enough to fully understand and embrace it, but Formula One, I've paid more attention to the last few years. It's very interesting to me. I don't think I'm going to get into Formula One as a grown adult, but I can see how that would be a really interesting sport to follow as somebody who can listen in to what their actual strategy is in real time as they're racing.

John:

Yeah. I see how that would be cool. I've heard some of those, you know, the talk, but the chatter between the drivers and the pit crews and all the spotters and those guys sounds cool. I's interesting to me for a little bit, but I just can't get into racing like that.

Kelly Walker:

What about The Ticket? I listen; I consume a lot of my sports information via The Ticket. I don't consume sports when they are doing coverage of certain things. If they happen to be doing post game shows, I don't really consume it that way. I get a lot of my sports info from there. Are you a Ticket listener? Yes. I'm a P one. Yes, me too. So do you understand when they're talking? Okay. When they're talking about someting like The Masters, and when they're talking about hail throws, and they do a 15 minute segment on a specific play or something, and it's something that you couldn't see yourself because maybe you don't watch golf or maybe you didn't see the football game, but depending on how well you can see plays on your TV, do you like it when that happens on The Ticket or do you tune out? I didn't consume it visually as they did.

John:

Well, I don't know I guess that depends on specifically what it is generally. I won't leave The Ticket because of they're talking about something I'm not interested in. They generally are pretty on point for what I'm interested in. Even if I couldn't see it because of my vision, often times, especially in life recently, I don't see a lot of sports anyway, because there's too many things going on. There's a pretty good chanc I haven't seen a play they're talking about anyway. Generally speaking, because they're an audio medium, I think they do a pretty good job of describing what they're talking about. Assuming that some people, or maybe many people haven't seen the play. I can generally pick up on those things. I don't feel left out in that regard.

Kelly Walker:

Good. Yeah. I was curious because I've either usually seen what they're talking about or I'll go pull it if it's something I'm really curious about. Okay. I want to circle back though, when you mentioned cycling. So what about the Tour de France? Are you watching that unfold when, when that's happening in the summers? No.

John:

I'm a fair weather fan. So when Lance Armstrong's winning six in a row, doping or not, watching that was the height of my Tour de France consumption. I mean, you know what happens in July each year? So when, when I'm watching sports channels like ESPN or listening to The Ticket,, I'm interested in what they say about it, but I'm not going to go watch the time trials or the certain days recaps. I'm not going after the information, but when it's there, I'm interested in what it is, I guess.

Kelly Walker:

But for me cycling, something like that, it's like highlights only hit the high points and something dramatic happened. Did somebody take over; did somebody fall? What was the drama about it? Or the high points? And that's about it for me, but it's interesting. I think that's a really interesting sport. I've just never gotten into it, competitively like that. So I'm just a very, very watered down fan, but biking in general. I want to ask you about that because when you were on my podcast, we talked about that a lot. I was surprised to know that it seems like something you're getting back into inthis day and age. Tell me, what's the most recent of your biking experiences?

John:

Yeah, so I have recently started biking through the lockdown process. We've had a lot of time to spend at home, you know, maybe too much. We're trying to find things to do, and we've got some kiddos at home and we've got to figure out something to do with them. Not that we wouldn't be doing this anyway, but it just seemed to be the right time for us to start doing biking. They took to it. All of a sudden, we've got some bikers in the house and mom and dad now have to keep up with that. It was pretty easy when they were on a tricycle or a balance bike. We could mostly keep up with them, but after they get the training wheels off and on two wheels iand as I mentioned, I don't like running, so I'm certainly not going to run after them as well. So we started getting into some biking and quickly realized that we needed some bikes of our own. My wife, Erin and I didn't have bikes. I don't know really why she did not. Other than that, she just doesn't ride bikes. For me, I didn't have one either. I didn't know that I couldn't ride one. I certainly have done a lot of bike riding in my life, but since vision change, I really haven't ridden a bike.

Kelly Walker:

It wasn't something you expected to be doing. It's not like you're going to just have a bike laying around. I mean, a lot of us, when you leave your childhood era, you don't really have a bike. I got a bike in college because we lived so close to campus. Of course it was something so cheap that you leave it there. When you get into your adult life a bike, isn't typically one of the first things you invest in and hang on to for 20 years. You only get it when you feel the need to invest in one that you're going to be riding around for a while. It doesn't surprise me that you wouldn't have one.

John:

That's probably how I would describe what happened with us. We got a bike for for Erin and she really liked riding it. One day, I just decided I would try to take her bike for a spin. The old saying is true. You never forget how to ride a bike. I rode it and very quickly really liked the sensation. I mean, the feel of moving at that speed, and the ability to get from one end of the block to the other in a much faster pace and the autonomy of just being able to go,

Kelly Walker:

Yeah, the freedom. There's something about riding a bike, right? There's just some feeling,

John:

Oh yeah, the wind blowing through my hair. Erin was riding a lot. When I started riding, we had an issue because we only had one bike and there was two of us. As it turned out, I got a bike and I've been going pretty bananas with biking. For me, it's really been in addition to just the coolness of biking or the exercise element of biking and the activity level, which is good. I've really done a lot of exploring around my neighborhood because don't drive. There were parts of areas that I just hadn't been to. I've been there but because we were in the car moving faster, or we're walking through the neighborhood. I didn't really get a time to go exactly where I want to go when I want to go there and see exactly what I want to see or look at something in particular. So I've explored every square inch of our neighborhood now - up and down the streets, through the fields, up and down the alleys and through the construction sites. And I've been pretty active. Yeah.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. Your childhood bike gang got to come back out and it is fun to go into the crevices of your neighborhood that you can't access with a car and just sort of see where this creek goes or where this path goes or what's back here and going between places that you just never go. There's something very interesting about it. That's awesome that you're out there exploring and biking.

John:

For me, it's exhilarating and really terrifying from second to second. There haven't had any close encounters yet, but it's because I've mainly only stayed within our neighborhood. It's a pretty good size neighborhood. I try to stay in the street and the sidewalks, but there's lots of cars, but nothing like a main street. I hope to venture out; I actually have crossed some pretty major streets into other neighborhoods and when there are appropriate crosswalks available. So I'm confident I can do that without issue. I've had the bike for about three months now. After a few weeks of riding it, I got a tracking app on my phone. Since I've got the tracking app installed, I'm at about 200 miles of biking according to the app,

Kelly Walker:

That sounds like a lot. Well,

John:

Considering I have ridden zero miles for the last 20 years, roughly 200 miles in about a three month time period is pretty extraordinary, a pretty dramatic change.

Kelly Walker:

Your pace is high.

John:

I don't know how long I can maintain that.

Kelly Walker:

Just promise me that if you do venture out to the big roads and you're going on really big multi-lane roads that you have a buddy, I just feel like you need a buddy with you. I feel like that with any biker, anybody cycling around,

John:

Yeah. Buddies are always good, especially in the cycling or running world. Things can happen, too. I mean, I've even had my chains come loose and I've had to try to fix it. That that stuff happens. There's a coffee shop about that require a crossing of a street two ways. That is on my list of things to do pretty soon.

Kelly Walker:

Take a friend or Erin.

John:

Well, the problem is I really can't take Erin.

Kelly Walker:

I can come sit with your family and you guys can go get your coffee and go on a biking coffee date.

John:

I would love to do that. I mean, we've talked about it, but there's just so many things that have to happen for that even that small of an activity to make sense. We really can't go biking together right now. I mean, we go together as a family, but as, as you know, with having kids, especially depending upon their ages, it isn't really always a lot of biking that happens at our age. It's a lot of standing still and drinking water.

Kelly Walker:

Yes. Readjusting. I get that. I remember that. I'm talking about being worried about you going out on your own to take on that adventure. Have there been any times when you have, with your vision loss, been actually worried or feared for your safety when you're doing something sporty or has that come up?

John:

Yeah, it has probably somewhat regularly. It depends on what kind of sports you're talking about. Crossing the, street, watching a movie can be a sport. If you remember Chris Arnold Spies, we were talking about The Ticket, but nobody else will get that reference. So maybe I should cut that part out. When crossing the street or walking your dog, things can happen. That's always in the back of my mind with really anything, but when pertains to sporting, like at an event, yeah. It's not. So sometimes I find it difficult, especially like coming and going from a game, when a massive amount of people are moving. It's hard for me to navigate in a large storm of people; that would be true for any crowd. At a sporting event, when it's usually over, iit's usually the biggest crowd because everybody's leaving at the same time. Generally I will try to leave earlier or stay late, generally stay late so I can see what's going on unless the game is out of hand or something.

Kelly Walker:

I remember going out before you try to, yeah,

John:

It's just not fun. Just kind of pinballing in between a bunch of people. People bump into people all the time. That's not really a big deal but I seem to do it an extraordinary amount of times. Plus it's just mentally taxing for me to be so concerned about not doing that. It's just like I would rather wait kind of thing. That's one of the things you ave to be aware of if you're going to a sporting event with me. I would try to avoid being in the mass exodus or being in a big group of people. I can also remember pretty vividly one of the first sporting events I went to after my vision change. It appened in 1998; it was a Texas Rangers game during the summer of that year after I was home recuperating. My dad and I went to a Rangers game and really hadn't considered anything about being at a game. I was pretty excited to go because it was summer, and it was baseball. I like watching baseball and I can remember I didn't have my radio. That was one thing that I later learned would have made things better. It was more or less just going and getting out of the house and just being out there. We went to the game, but I really didn't. The radio would have helped with the enjoyment of the game. I was so concerned with getting hit by a foul ball that it ruined the game for me. I think if I remember correctly, I'd have to ask my dad. I think we moved once or twice because I just was so uncomfortable about the possibility of getting hit with a foul ball. The chance is very small, but it was the fact that I was adjusting to this new vision field that I had and what I could and couldn't see and what my limitations were and all that kind of stuff. I just had this irrational fear of being hit. It really was tough for me to sit there. It wasn't fun.

Kelly Walker:

I bet that goes back to you saying how much baseball you've watched and how much you enjoy it and get into it. I mean, watching a lot of baseball or listening to a lot of baseball growing up, yes, it doesn't happen to everybody every game, but of all those fans in there, somebody gets hurt every so often. You know, and remember seeing how fast a foul ball goes into the stands, right? If you're sitting in a spot where there's a lot of line drives going at you, you just know from watching so much baseball, that not being able to spot a ball coming at you that fast is dangerous. I could totally see how that would get in your head, and it would give me anxiety. If I knew that there could be a ball coming off a bat, and I can't be sure that I'm going to see it coming at me would make it really hard to sit and enjoy the game.

John:

Yeah. That was not a fun experience, but it also reminds me too, of my love for watching baseball too was within a year or two later. I'm back in Lubbock at Texas Tech University. We're watching baseball at the college level. We're watching games and me and about four or five of my knucklehead friends were fortunate enough to attend games. We had tickets to the baseball games, and the team was pretty good during those years. They were fun games to go to but I need to really be close to the action for the best chance for me to be able to see what's going on. Sitting up high while players are in the outfield, does not inable me to really see anything. Even sitting really more than 10 or 15 rows back, it's all the same to me. If I'm in a place where there's a box where I've got a TV or something near me, that makes it better. Sitting in a box, that's pretty rich. I don't know how many can afford to do that all the time. We got into this groove at Texas Tech baseball games where the row immediately behind the visiting on-deck circle was a row, with five seats. The first row up right behind the visiting on deck circle was open. I don't know; we probably went to 20 or 30 games, I would guess. People just thought those were our seats, and it was awesome for me. I could see the players because we were so close. They were great seats. You can see the field and hear the heckler. I learned about heckling at the college level. There were professional hecklers there. They were called the Tech hecklers, and they were good. They were really good. We were sitting pretty close to them, and got to know them a little bit. It was fun listening to all their shtick and all the stuff that they did. We were so close to the game that I could really see a lot, but I did have my radio ears in so I could hear it too. Because we were so close and right behind the batter, there was a net right in front of us. I couldreach out and touch the net. For me that was like the needed safety mechanism to keep me safe if I was going to get hit by a foul ball. If it was going to be a foul ball, it would have to go way up in the air. There would be 10 people around me all trying to get it. We'd all have plenty of time to adjust to it. Those were my best baseball games right there.

Kelly Walker:

The net makes all the difference in the world; that net is much needed every year. Major league baseball makes different rules and extends that net while watching minor league baseball here in town. It's now been extended so far. It's so great because I think it extends all the way to the far edge of each dugout, which is pretty far down the line. That's a lot of net, so it's a lot more space where you can enjoy the game without worrying about getting hit by a line drive. Like you said, if it comes up and over, that's one thing.

John:

And I don't think the net really interferes with vision. Obviously, the net's there, but you can see through it. The posts would probably be the biggest issues, but the posts are generally sprtead pretty far apart. Why don't we take it all the way down to the foul post? I tink they probably will.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. The different parks can do whatever they want, I guess. It's funny because every year when we get our seats, we like to be behind the net and just a little offset from home plate. That's my biggest thing for baseball - aving seats just behind the net. That's mostly for my little little kids, but we still get a lot of balls back there. It's just not as fast moving. You have a few seconds to react, see it coming and move if you want to move.

John:

Yeah. That type of foul ball is fun because people are going for it and having fun with it. But it's the screamer down the third baseline that you know could knock somebody's jawbone off is not the one you want.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. Well, we, we started this talking about getting knocked in the head, and we finished this talking about getting knocked in the head.

John:

That's probably a pretty good way to end it.

Kelly Walker:

It's come full circle on our sports talk.

John:

I don't know if we covered all the sports, so maybe we'll do it again.

Kelly Walker:

Yeah. I mean, anytime. I'm always up for chatting about sports. I actually have a lot of notes and research that we didn't get to that we can talk about another time. I want to talk about all these popular sports for people with vision impairments that I learned about but didn't know. So we can do that. Yeah.

John:

We'll do it the next time.

Kelly Walker:

Yep.

John:

Sounds good. Thanks Kelly.

Kelly Walker:

Thanks for having me, John.