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Aloha, my name is Luke Kayyem and this is just one of the many stories of my life!
Luke shares his story – how he was forced to grow up quick when his mom passed at a young age, and how he trained his mind to get through challenges.
Four steps of success: identify what you want, set goals to achieve it, hold yourself accountable, and simply show up.
The importance of walking the talk, not just talking the talk.
Strengthening your mind. Your mind can get you through anything.
Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable
Fathers Of The Future:
“A Father or Dad is a male who has raised a child, supplied the sperm which grew into the child, and or has donated a body cell which has resulted in a clone” yup that pretty much sums up what my father was to me, a donator of bodily fluids and a supplier of sperm. Thank you Wikipedia for giving me so much worth and meaning to my so-called life. It’s a good thing the Internet was not around when I was a kid and instead my mom’s tales of brave, battle-fit men fleeing their homes after the “goose was gandered”, to fight evil dragons and sloths somewhere between Palm Springs and Disneyland held up. Well, it did until I turned 6 years old, that was about the time I started asking a lot of questions and realized there was something missing from our home. Let’s see…. Maybe it was just my imagination but why was my 50 year old Mom locking the doors and putting on the alarm at 6pm? Why did I have so many Uncles? And why was Father’s Day so damn sad?! Awww yes myself and a third of our population has grown up without a Dad. That’s right! 35 years old and I have never, ever hugged it out, smoked a cigar or been told what to do when it sticks straight up by a much older, wiser version of myself. This is exactly why this story is being shared. If we don’t break the cycle and rewrite history, who will teach generations to come how to hit a curve ball, barbecue beef and pick the best roses on earth? Which by the way, happen to be at Costco! Both my children Kanon (6.9) and Camille (5.1) know these “laws of the land” because they are so important to the future of generations to come. It is a standard as a woman in our house to receive roses on Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Graduation (from every grade), Easter and well any day that the Girls might need some cheering up! My son knows to do it and my daughter knows why we do it.
I have set these values from the start, early on in their childhood. Although these are material lessons, the lessons of love are not far behind. I have heard grown men cry from not ever hearing the words ‘I love you’ from their fathers and in turn, been in heated arguments over what they considered to be worse, never having a father or having one that’s never there. In our house we might say ‘I love you’ 20 times before we even leave the house and another 20 times as soon as we see each other again. As a man and as a father, I visualize myself be situated somewhere between Bill Cosby, Ned Flanders andAl Bundy. I have created a safe haven of love that most people might not notice at all.
You see, we are “The Fathers of the Future”. Yeah, that’s right! You may have seen us around town… picking up and dropping off our children at school… every single day. You may have seen us sitting next to you at ballet practice and recitals or at tennis lessons and well, at just about every single activity, function, and/or meal our kid’s have. We don’t miss a thing! We even get 99% of it on camera, so we can share it with our friends, our family, and just about anyone else that will pay attention. We have even gone so far as to build our businesses around our families and have said NO to places, people and things that take us away from this precious time. We are living our fatherless childhoods through fathering our children…..BOOM! What you gotta say about that “Wikipedia”?! I say cheers to these leaders of the new school, move out of the way soccer moms, we are the FITness Fathers and were taking over the world. Don’t be scared by our tattoos, piercings and beards. Don’t be alarmed by our bright colors, loud music and big trucks! Get to know us. You never know what you may learn, not everyone knows where to buy the best flowers in town. We are the “Fathers of the Future” and were not going anywhere!!!
By Luke Kayyem Husband, Father, Athlete, Coach
As we pulled up to US CrossFit and the SealFit H.Q building my stomach started to turn. I had not been nervous all week or even all morning but now this was feeling real. Chris and I had listened to the entire book on cd the Lone Survivor the eyewitness account of operation Redwing and the lost heroes of Seal Team 10 on the 6 hour drive from Scottsdale to Encinitas. I was digesting small mental quotes that would hopefully help me survive the 50 hour camp. The front parking spot was open and I pulled in. Nobody noticed our entrance and I’m glad. My truck is bright enough as is, and I did not want to have too much attention on me too soon.
We unpacked, dressed out and introduced ourselves to the 15 other young men running around frantically to be ready for the start of camp. The 1st person that came up to me to give me his hand I would later find out was a current soldier in the United States Navy, he is training to become a BUDS candidate and had completed the Emersion course 3x. We will call him “Carrion” and he was the Top dude here. Standing no more than 5’9” and weighing in at maybe #150 wet, this kid was a seasoned vet and took the role as leader from the time we started until we said goodbye. Let’s step back a second so I can better explain what this camp is and who it is for. Originally developed for military special ops to get a hand up on training weaknesses and get them more mentally prepared for BUDS or Basic Underwater Demolition Seals. The Emersion course was 21x days long and ended with the 50x hour KOKORO camp. Completing one HELL of a training course. Of the 17 total who started, 8 or 9 of the young men were rocking beards to show there unity or to show their separation from us, either way this group banded together all month and definitely had the mental edge on us rookies who just showed up on Friday to get our a**** kicked. By the end of the weekend 5 men would quit and not one had a beard.
Our gear consisted of 2 different packages. Package 1: boots, cammies, white t-shirt with your name written on the front, backpack (ruck) that should have 1 full canteen of water with a scoop of electrolyte in it and 3 empty sand bags with our name on them as well. I underline the word empty because they would never be that way again and our weapon, a 2 inch thick PVC painted black and filled with sand that must have weighed #10-15 pounds. Package 2 was exactly the same except running shorts and shoes replaced the boots and cammies. At all times our gear needed to be tied, tucked and look exactly the same as everyone else. “Carrion” split us up into groups, called Boat Crews and I was given the position of Boat Commander 3. We were the tallest group and hours later we would become the smallest. As we stepped out of the small confinements of our gear room suite C we would never look or feel the same. This was KOKORO Camp and it was starting….. NOW.
6-24 1500 hours
SCHOOL FOR WARRIORS: I don’t know how long we stood on the GRINDER, it felt like 30 minutes but it would be the last time we stopped moving for the next 2 days. I’m not sure exactly what the Coaches were doing behind the camouflage glass… probably taking bets on who would be the 1st to tap out or the which guy would quit because “he didn’t know it was going to be like this,” but we stood there motionless until they stormed out of confinement like a sleeping tsunami rolling in on a beach gaining speed, power and force with every minute. “You guys look like shit” said one Coach “Hit the deck. Push ‘em out” said another. Curse words were being dropped from every angle imaginable and all I could think of was my kids giving these guys burpees for swearing. I would think about them anytime things got rough and that was a lot. “On your backs, bottom of your squat, on your back, flutter kicks” All of this was happening while trying to maintain your weapon in your right hand and if you weren’t strong enough or you took your mind off of the task a Coach would grab your weapon and throw it as far away as possible, then make you bear crawl over and crab walk back. After a few minutes the water torture started…. Hoses, buckets, water bottles anything that you could fill water in was being used to shake us up and get us really uncomfortable. Imagine next time you’re doing a WOD run to the bathroom stick your head in the toilet, flush it then run back to your bar and finish the round do this until you can no longer see a foot in front of you and that’s how we felt for the next 2 hours. If you turned your head away you would just get more of it at a different angle. I learned to breathe out with the force of a jet until the Coach would find some other slacker that was struggling worse. Unfortunately, we were pretty evenly matched just about 1 coach for every student or as I like to describe 1 Lion for every Foe and I was Bambi. I will do my best to describe time but having been back to reality for as long as I was away, time seemed to come and go and all I really know is light and dark, sun and moon. Setting your mind on Sunday was too far and too hard to do. Instead I would break up the weekend with what the instructors called EVOLUTIONS some would last 2 hours and others would go as long as 9. All I know is that when one was over, another one started.
6-24 1700 hours
GET WET: This phrase or as I call my personal HELL was what all the coaches were waiting for. You see I attended the 5x day SEALFIT instruction course last October and although I man handled most all of the workouts getting thrown in the ocean in full gear scared me and my nickname…. Scottsdale was handed out around camp as the tall, strong, and tatted up sissy who lost it in the Ocean. No joke my teeth shattered non-stop for 30 minutes the final night last October and all the coaches knew this was my weakness. As I entered the water with anticipation of negative degrees I started to smile, it wasn’t that bad, it actually felt nice, wholly s*** I’m going to be okay. “Hurry the F*** UP!.. I said get wet, not lay out” screamed a Coach and that was back to reality. I held on to that smile for another 30 minutes so much so that Commander Devine mentioned how lucky I was that the water temp was above 60 degrees. It got me through this evolution and that’s all that mattered. This is where we would lose our 1st Foe. I don’t know if it was the water, sand or verbal abuse but this kid was done. He could barely pick up his boots out of the soft sand and he was falling behind on all of the drills. “You have 3 minutes to fill up your sand bag ¾ of the way full, hydrate and become a sand cookie (get wet and poor sand on every square inch of your body, including face, head and neck) or you will hit the deck and push ‘‘em out” I had already counted 400 pushups and we had not even hit sunset yet.
“It pays to be a winner” No other phrase quite explains the output used to complete a drill in 1st place. “Take your ruck off, take out your sandbag, put it on your right shoulder and sprint around that tower” GO! “Stop you f****** idiots” … “I said right shoulder. Push ‘em out, get wet, sand cookie”. You see the world’s finest military was not built on half ass sailors who got things right some of the time. We are the baddest mothers on the planet for a reason. “ATD” also known as attention to detail and we had none. After another sand grinder session we were back on our feet ready to race around the tower. “Right shoulder f*****, right shoulder” This was the 1st time I started to question my mental state. I actually had to look at the guy next to me to confirm I understood the difference between right and left, I did. As I sprinted around the tower I had one thing on my mind beating everyone and getting a 30 second break. I came in 2nd behind “Carrion” and it was enough to get a HYDRATE comment out of a Coach and “It pays to be a winner” I can honestly say I think I only got one more of those all weekend but I remember how good it felt. After another dozen or so drills, lunge down sprint back, bear crawl into the ocean, crab walk out, run, run, run up and down the pacific beach of South County Encinitas things started to slow down. I mean slow motion. 2 guys tried quitting, one could barely walk. We were given orders to get with these guys and take care of our Team. No man left behind. One of these guys was personal. A student, friend and SEALFIT junkie like myself so the Coaches took it upon themselves to give “Scottsdale” s*** for a fellow CrossFitter to be struggling. I won’t repeat the words used to describe me, my city or my gym but you can imagine they were pretty defeating. At 1st I waited to hear some praise, just a little. Good job, keep it up, almost there. Nothing… Where was the positive reinforcement? There was none and that’s when I realized Coaching would have to come from us, the team, and its leaders. So I got vocal, let’s go, come on guys…” Hooya” a Navy term used to answer the call. It meant a lot of things… Okay, of course, why not and HELL F****** YES. I do apologize ahead of time if this story and its explicit descriptions offend you. It is however truthful and 100% accurate it’s also not intended for CrossFit Kids. As we made the climb back up the hill, the sun was setting and I knew we had survived another EVOLUTION.
6-24 2000 hours
“Body Armor” 1 mile run 100 pull ups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, 1 mile run with a 30# sand bag ruck on and 1 hour to complete the task. I was pumped “Murph” this was my WOD. 3.2.1 GO I locked eyes with the biggest baddest dude in our company. “Shane” was the same height as me about 5’11” but outweighed me by 20#. He was stacked, serious as s*** and was currently fighting in our U.S Army. This dude was actually on vacation from his active duty and decided to spend 21x days training to get ready for Green Beret school that he had missed by a few reps. He also struggled in the water and wanted to get in edge on other guys trying out. Did I mention this was his vacation? WTF… Tatted on his forearm was “Pain is weakness leaving the body” “Hooya”. I was neck and neck with him for the 1st 30 minutes feeling good knocking out round after round then “Carrion” turned the corner. 34 minutes flat. WTF? He was done and I still had 8 rounds to go. Then 7, 6, 5 “Get your ass down below parallel Scottsdale” don’t you own a f****** gym? Wholly s*** they were on me like white on rice. 3, 2, there goes ”Shane” with 1 round and 8 minutes left I sprinted around the grinder trying to make the 60 minute cut as I passed “Shane” on the way back I let it all go and had my 1st out of body experience of the weekend. I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:01. We were given the command “Hydrate & Fuel” which pretty much meant water and protein bars. I looked at “Shane” and gave him the good job nod, he looked back at me and said “I was happy to keep up with you.” This tiny small complement was enough to keep me going all weekend long. This was one of the baddest dudes alive and we both respected each other. For the rest of the weekend we would share stories, food, water and skills to push each other to be the best we could be. This was my best friend all weekend, he was a warrior, a soldier and a leader and I would not let him down. “Hooya”
6-25 2400 hours
“Pain is temporary, quitting is forever” I still remember to this day when I quit the freshman basketball team. I didn’t even have the guts to do it myself. My close friend Jeremy Elg wanted to quit and he and I went everywhere together. You see, we had just wrapped up freshman football and I knew my sport, baseball was in a few months so I wanted to rest up for that. Besides I didn’t even start. So Jeremy approached Coach and told him he was quitting to focus on school and girls and whatever other b******* he said. I stood 3 feet back with my head down and waited till Coach asked… So you too? I just nodded and shook my head up and down. Little did I know this QUIT would haunt me some 17 years later on a cool night in Encinitas.
As we started back on the GRINDER stomachs full with remains of the last warm meal we would eat, the water from the hoses was a little colder and a little stronger. My body started to hurt more than before and I had already sucked down 3 IB Profin. We got in our boat crew lines and prepared for the worse. For some reason the next 3 hours would lighten our crew from 5 to 3. The 1st guy who QUIT had served in 3 tours overseas, one to Iraq and 2 to Afghanistan. Seeing him leave was the biggest shocker. He was already a soldier how could this civilian torture affect him? No time to think about anyone but myself. “Take your sand bag and push it 20 meters without using your hands” “It pays to be a winner” I don’t know about you but trying to nose push a #40 wet sand bag against concrete is the most defeating thing in the world, it just wouldn’t budge. We were down to 4 guys in my boat crew and just then I heard a guy say “I can’t take it, I’m done” he was whispering into my ear as I tried to balance my sandbag over my head in the bottom of my squat while defending my oral cavities from being executed with H20. Just like that he was gone. The funny part is you really don’t know what it is that breaks the camel’s back. I do know my boat crew was down to 2 other guys and me. So we were regrouped and I was given a blessing from above. “Shane switch teams you’re now in 3” HELL YA I thought to myself. None of these weak skinny quitters would affect me and my brotha from another mutha. We were going to wreck s*** and it started now. We lost one more guy that night and as I look back on it I couldn’t have changed his mind. Most people have a pre determined threshold they are going to put out till. Not a second longer or a foot further. In CrossFit we call this the lactic acid thresh hold. In the military they call it pain tolerance. Some of us are born with one greater than others. We were 12 hours into KOKORO and we had lost 5 men. Our unit had started with 17 and was down to 12 and we were headed back into the ocean for our 1st test of teamwork and how well we could work together.
Circuit Training: The next EVOLUTION would consist of 4 separate missions each lasting 60-90 minutes. The 1st was brain power: We had 10 minutes to run to “Swammie’s” about a mile away to meet our 1stcoach who made us do 5x rounds of “Murph” subbing burpees for pull ups. This was our punishment for a former teammate not completing his rounds before quitting. After finishing the fallen Foes reps we were given a series of instructions. Run down the 145 steps to the beach where we would meet Coach #2 who had a box filled with a bunch of items. How many? Ingredients? Where were they manufactured? What color? What purpose are they for? ….these were a sample of the questions used to question our memory. We had 60 seconds to memorize as much as possible then hike back up the 145 steps and answer as many questions as possible. Correct answers would keep us out of the water, incorrect and we were getting wet. We answered about 50% right and were then told to go back down the steps, collect more detailed information like where Airborne was manufactured and what size batteries there were. We did better but not quite 100% we were sent back down where the Coach had us empty our sandbags and fill them up to the top. The pain in my scapula still resonates down my shoulder and the road rash from wet sand burns my forearms with fresh scabs. Next mission get to the lifeguard tower in less than 10 minutes… so we took off still happy we had not gotten wet and sandy at 0400. We had our a**** chewed apart because we took too long to get there. My excuse of carrying a #50 bag was garbage and my Coach told me so. “Get wet you sorry asses” filled the air.
We held hands, walked in backwards and sat down up to our shoulders, taking the ruck off even for a minute was a break worth enjoying. We got out and began our 2nd CrossFit WOD “Chelsea” using the lifeguard tower as a pull up bar and the road up a steep incline as our run we began 8x rounds of 5x pull ups/10 pushups/15 squats + the incline sprint finishing on average in 4 minutes and 20 seconds giving us a minute and 40 second break. We tossed our rucks back on and headed to H.Q where Coach Cerrillo was waiting. He was the scariest, loudest most interesting Coach on hand and everyone was scared shitless of him. Coach spent 13-years on active duty of which twelve were spent within the Naval Special Warfare Command. There he served as both an operator and instructor during his military career. So we got moving because nobody wanted to deal with him at 0500. As we took our rucks off I had my 2nd worse feeling of the weekend Log P.T. My experience with this in the past was not pretty. It was extremely uncomfortable and heavy to move a log weighing over #200 between 4 guys. I was given the roll as leader and would give the commands. “Up log, up log” “Press, press” “Down log, down log” You get the picture. The worst of all is the flat back bench press. Miss and you will for sure crush your face, a feeling I thought of wouldn’t have been too bad at that point. “Pretty f****** good” Cerrillo said and we were off to our 4th and final mission of this EVOLUTION.This might have been the only praise we heard until Sunday afternoon especially from Cerrillo so we enjoyed the sound of it.
Off to Moonlight Beach about 2 miles north of H.Q and 3 miles from Swammie’s. As we turned the corner of this beautiful beach we could see a bonfire that looked as if it had been lit by the devil himself. It was at least 20 ft high and I thought for sure we were getting wet just so we could get warm and cozy. “I must have been delusional” we got wet and sandy and just as the sky started to get light we were given orders to finish another 5x rounds of “Murph” due to one of the quitters that was warm sleeping in a hotel somewhere along the I-5. This time using the roof of the public bathroom as our pull up structure. “Anytime Anywhere” we got wet and sandy again. Then our last task was to take the 4 shovels and build stadium seats just far enough from the bonfire that we could not feel its warmth. “In times of pain and agony laughter is the best medicine” Coach Shane had us telling jokes, stories and just about anything to keep us going. It was morning now and families were showing up so they could pick prime spots for the day’s beach adventure. Our day was just beginning… after about an hour we were told to fill the h***, and put the beach back together, get wet again and get back to H.Q for breakfast. We had survived the 1st night and it was a new day. “Hooya”
“Breakfast of Champions” I haven’t had a bagel and cream cheese since… I was at Grandmas last….. Damn that was good. Well we had made it a full night and all of the quitters were gone so we must be getting a break now. Right? Painfully wrong. Back on the grinder in full gear. I put on a fresh pair of socks and clean dry t-shirt but I don’t know why. My boots were soaked and so was my belt. Then it hit me. “Quit feeling sorry for yourself and think about the guys next to you” they are in just as much pain as you are, if not more. I started thinking about everyone that had been down this road before. My best friend Jade McLoed of the United States Air Force and the strongest man I know. Nolan Bonsetter United States Air Force a student of mine and of course Allen Michael Armstrong “Jedi” Guys that I had trained to succeed when placed in this position. I channeled these 3 soldiers and asked them to give me guidance. “The brain is the strongest muscle in the body” I know it’s not a muscle but without it your other muscles won’t work. We were told to run to Swammie’s to loosen up and we did. I was slower than s*** by this time telling myself over and over “one foot at a time”. We got back to H.Q and were given our next orders. Line up your boat crew and log carry back down to Moonlight Beach. I don’t recall much about this next evolution except it was the 1st and only time the word QUIT rattled around my head. You see I have a torn tricep that has been covered up by a series of injections called Prolotherapy it saved me from surgery and has allowed me to train without down time. As little as the tricep is it’s connected to the shoulder and pectoral. Needless to say carrying a heavy ass log above your shoulder puts your tricep in a very interesting position. As we carried these mammoth logs down the street I gained strength in the civilians watching me work tirelessly. We hit the beach and a few families stopped to take out there phones or cameras and snap photo after photo of us. We hit the surf and were given orders to stay connected to each other as we crawl around in a circle. Teamwork training had begun and we looked like a bunch of Lebron James. Selfish, beaten and worrying only about ourselves. I was Alpha Leader and took charge we piled into the ocean with our log as I shouted out orders to keep the log above water and get deeper into the sea until the Coaches told us to return. Out of the corner of my eye I could see rucks, canteens, MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) thrown around and buried under the sand. We got back to shore and were given 3 minutes to collect everyone’s gear from under the sand and stand tall. We failed and were sent back into the ocean to do it over again. Then it happened, my excuse had finally come around, my QUIT 17 years ago was back and he was spinning around in my head. As I dug around looking for gear I felt a sharp pain on the inside of my right elbow. I Iooked down and saw that the bottom of my tricep was sticking out about 2 inches. I had blown my tricep and this is how I was getting home early. Immediately I showed Commander Devine and the other coaches on duty. Sympathy? Please– I was given an ice pack and told to squat, run and raise my legs all of them more painful then pushups. I told the Coaches I did not want to quit and they just looked at me, as if they had seen this excuse thousands of times before. As I sat on the P.T. log eating my lunch made of veggie omelet and spicy cracker I had my 1st of many “time to feed the courage Dog” emotions. Let me explain I was not just at “KOKORO” for me, there were at least 50x other people I would let down if I QUIT. 1st Commander Devine, there was no way I was going to tell him I QUIT. My family, wife and kids who I asked to think about me all weekend and give me strength from a far. My crew at home, Coaches, Students and soldiers who were waiting for me to bring home the SealFit program to CrossFit Scottsdale. Most importantly was my Boat Crew and I was their leader. It dawned on me for another few minutes. Then I took off my ice pack pushed the head of my tricep back into my elbow and returned to P.T. “Hooya”.
6-25 1200 hours
“Warrior Yoga” As we pushed the 24 hour mark we were given a break. An hour long class dedicated to stretching, flexibility and breath control. Coach Devine took us through the basic salutations and then went through some basic box breathing techniques. I think I fell asleep for a moment and I know a few other guys did but no one would admit it. We were then educated on the 5 mountains of SealFit. 1) Physical Preparation 2) Mental Toughness 3) Awareness 4) Emotional Control 5) Unbeatable Spirit.
6-25 1400 hours
“What a mess” Hey Scottsdale, what would you do if your gym looked this bad? How would you clean it? Would you take every piece of equipment out before you started? These were questions getting thrown at me like a fastball. I just stood there and tried to comprehend. The orders were clear and present. Take every single piece of equipment from U.S CrossFit by hand and move it to the lookout about 400x meters up a small hill on top of the bluff above the beach. Scottsdale you will take inventory of each and every piece and be in charge of organizing the new beach gym when the equipment arrives. Then you will start cleaning the gym, give me a total inventory list and then put each and every piece back where it was. In other words it was as if we took the entire contents of CrossFit Scottsdale up the road to Costco. Then we climbed up a hill with the equipment, unloaded it, cleaned out CrossFit Scottsdale and then returned each piece. That’s dumbbells, barbells, plates, kettle bells, racks, shelves, ab mats, boxes, benches and med balls. The kicker was we were only allowed to move two pieces, the same two pieces at a time. No more, no less. As I took inventory I watched the look on my guys’ face get longer and harder with every load. After counting 221 total pieces I rushed up the hill and joined in. Fresh from my desk job I jumped in, I got 10 or so good loads in until we cleaned up and unpacked the gym back to its original condition. Total time 3 hours 35 minutes and the coaches were pissed. “This was supposed to be an easy f****** job and you f***** it up”… “Lazy piece of s*** Scottsdale, way to help your guys” For a second I was disappointed then I realized it did not matter how fast we did it, they were going to say it was s*** and verbally abuse us anyway. This is what we paid for. We were told to eat up, get dressed and get ready for what is now known as “the hike”. I told my guys “great f****** job” and I meant it, that gym was spotless and we busted our a**** getting it that way. “Hooya” Kokoro 16.
6-25 1800 hours
“Climb a Mountain” It was exactly an hour from SealFit H.Q to the base of the Palomar Mountains. We packed up our vehicles, filled up our water and grabbed dinner (MRE was spaghetti and meatballs). When I 1st heard that we would be hiking the Palomar Mountains I was excited. If this was our final test and the longest of the EVOLUTIONS it was an easy day for Scottsdale. Unfortunately for me this hike was starting at 1900 hours and we were climbing the entire 14 miles straight up hill to the 6,500 ft peak with full gear, sandbag ruck and weapon in hand. Not to mention zero light so you had no idea where or what you were stepping on. Alpha team piled into Carrillos van and we were headed out. “If anyone closes your eyes it’s 50x burpees when get to the base” F***! I thought for sure I could get a quick nap in. At the base of the mountain it didn’t look that steep, high or long. We got out, geared up and each team was given a walky talky with specific instructions. Check in at 5 till every hour, hydrate regularly and stay together. You’re only as fast as your slowest guy. As we started the climb we discussed a game plan to get us up the Mountain in 5 hours. We had to be at the check in by 0200 and not a minute later. We would only stop for water or bathroom breaks every 30 minutes and we would only stop to take are rucks off on the hour. This plan lasted all of 30 minutes. We had stopped 5 times before our 1st check in. Two of our guys couldn’t maintain, one wanted to quit and I had just felt my 1st two blisters of the weekend both on each heel. It was barely 2300 hours and we looked like dog s***. The next few hours are a blur. We went back and forth with Bravo team for the lead and would catch a rhythm every now and then that would keep us going for 30 minutes at a time. The hill would get very steep and then level off but it never ended… ever. One of our guys really struggled and tried quitting at least 7x times. We did everything possible from calling the van and letting him QUIT. We even took turns carrying his load mostly by “Shane” Finally after an hour of this I decided that if he was going to quit to do it now or carry his own s***. At the next water fill Cerrillo told him to drop his load but he said NO. So we kept climbing, step after step minute after minute. “H.Q this is Alpha team leader checking in, all is well and we are still climbing” Then the bad mushrooms kicked in or whatever you might call delusional, mind altering exercise. They told us it might happen around the 40th hour. The 1st thing we saw was a bridge and then it was gone. Then I watched a family of Elephants cross in front of us. Did you see that we would all ask eachother? “Shane” and I would just keep barking. “Keep moving, don’t stop, we are almost there” I don’t know about Shane but I was full of s***. We were 4 hours into this thing and all we could see was animals and Looney Toon characters. At the next water fill one of our guys said he was done and tried to quit but we just wouldn’t let him. He had gone too far to quit now. “I told him to quit feeling sorry for himself” Carrillo would later tell me that was the point he realized I was a good dude. So we dumped his ruck on the van, gave him two weapons and kept marching. We had an hour till the meet up and were on track to complete the mission. The hard part was separating reality from fiction, monkeys from trees. We battled it out and hit the peak feeling pretty good about ourselves at 0222. Carrillo told us we had failed the mission and to turn around and head back. I don’t think I said a word to anyone. Beta team was sitting down enjoying a snack and we were heading right back down that delusional rain forest just as fast as we had scaled it. It all happened too fast for some of the guys to clearly realize we were only half way through this. On the way down I was pretty pissed and just kept going. Guys were falling down left and right, falling behind and falling asleep. We literally had to wake them up each time they would hit the deck. At one point we stopped for water and when I woke up all 6 of us were flat backed knocked out cold asleep. I don’t know for how long but it didn’t matter. “Get up, let’s go, this is the easy part” I said but It wasn’t. My feet hurt more on the way down than the way up. The weight of my body plus the angle of the mountain forced my entire body to be shoved against my toes. This nightmare went on for hours and so did the illusions. I maintained a pretty serious attitude the entire way. Looking back my seniority and the oldest of the crew along with being the only father in the group I had to take the lead in order for my family to survive. This was my brightest hour and it was coming to an end. The van picked us up at 0700 and we headed back to SealFit H.Q. “Close your eyes and it’s 50x burpees” Coach yelled.I think we collected over 500 burpees on that drive. Even the Tabasco under my eyes wouldn’t help. Wholly s*** I had survived the 2nd night. “Hooya”
“The last mission” It was now daylight Sunday morning and we only had a few hours left. It’s going to get easier right? Right? By this time I could barely walk, get down or even try to do a burpee. Commander Divine briefed us and it sounded pretty easy. Break into two team’s one team would secure the area while the other headed into enemy territory, running, swimming, and lifting large loads long distances. We chose a rock that describes our teamwork and carried it up and down the beach, up and down every flight of stairs and then safely placed it back on the beach. Climbing up, down and around obstacles all along the beach. “Congratulations men you have completed the task. Wash up and get ready for breakfast” Commander Divine was taking us out and we were allowed to order anything on the menu as long as we finished it. “Hooya” By this time my blisters were so bad I ran barefoot along the 2nd st pavement till I got to H.Q.
I sat down at breakfast arm to arm with the coaches who had fried me the past 45 hours discussing Paleo and Regional’s. It was a beautiful feeling and I couldn’t help but smile. After breakfast I walked to my truck still parked out front, grabbed my phone and started dialing my wife’s number to share the great news. Coach Carrillo watched this go down and barked out “It’s not over yet, how many numbers did you dial Scottsdale”?I answered truthfully 4x Coach, I had to tell the truth these guys were SEALS who knew if they had tapped my phone. “Drop and give me 40 burpees” As I started counting them out I felt nothing, no pain, open wounds or cuts. Just 2 cups of coffee and a breakfast burrito. I tossed my cell back in the truck and headed over for what I thought would be the last EVOLUTION… Yoga. We were no more than 1 minute it when they hit us and hit us hard. Every Coach, SEAL and intern was on deck. Hoses, water buckets and bottles were used. Megaphone in hand we were ordered to pick up the log and start log P.T. I thought it was a joke; we were barefoot, beaten and full. How? Why? F*** me!
6-26 1200 hours
“Your not done yet” After 2 hours on the “Grinder” with our logs held high above our heads we repeated the Navy code HONOR COURAGE COMMITMENT. We recited the Navy SEAL ethos until we got it right. “In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.” Then we were given one last order to yell “Hooya Camp 16” “Hooya Camp 16” after 50 straight hours myself and 11 other men had successfully completed “Kokoro” camp. “HOOYA CAMP 16”
As I sit at my desk typing these words in my cozy warm home I look at my battered and bruised body, barely able to get out of my chair, fresh wounds still bloody and my face peeling from direct sunlight. I think how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to successfully complete SEALFIT “KOKORO” Camp 16. To have shared a bond with our Countries finest Sailors, SEALS and Coaches. To be a part of something bigger than myself. I would like to thank my teammates Brian, Jared, Collin, Ryan, Trevor, Shane, Eric, Mark, Aeron and Jake. Coaches Miller, Sean, Chris, Alan and the United States Navy SEALS. Commander Divine, Cerrillo, Mc Leod and Shane. Thank you for your service to our country and your dedication to making our soldiers stronger.
Always make your bed, brush your teeth, SMILE, kiss your Ma & hug your Dad, LOVE, wash your hands. Always bring a gift “wine or flowers” when you have dinner at someones house, say please and thank you, say your prayers, wear a seat belt, CRY, learn to cook, LAUGH, never get more tattoos than dad and never date someone with more than you. “When in Maui” take your shoes off and shut the screen. READ, WRITE & LISTEN to music~ all kinds from Country to Classical and all the crap in between.
TRAVEL. Be thankful every day about every thing and every little thing. Learn to play an instrument, cuz Mom & Dad don’t and GIRLS LOVE IT! Don’t be a smart ass or a stupid one either. RESPECT. Be a kid for as long as you can and then have kids and become one again. Don’t pierce your ears, ever. SWIM, SURF, SKATE, snowboard, wake, ski, jump, flip, dive, walk, jog, run, lift, stretch and play every sport you can and respect every player you play against. Give 100% all the time and you will be great at anything. Eat your fruit and veggies. Not cause we say to but because they taste so good. LIVE, LOVE and learn in Hawaii for some time in your life. Never buy a boat, a timeshare or a nightclub. “Trust me” especially the same summer. TIP, raise dogs, donate. Have PASSION for something, anything, everything. Live in different cities, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Hawaii but not as many as I have. Don’t talk too much. LEAD, follow for a little while and then lead again. TEACH. Relax, GO YANKEES, LAKERS and RAIDERS no matter how bad it gets.Always call home on Mothers day & Mom and Dads Birthdays. Always come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. “Your birthday and New Years are your’s the rest are Mom’s. Tell Dad your proud of him when he wants to lose 10 pounds for his 50th birthday and ALWAYS tell your Mom she looks like she lost 10 pounds every Birthday.