As many of you know, I graduated from The Episcopal School of Dallas way back in 1988. It was a different school back then – much smaller and less prestigious, but still, the flame that ignited the amazing place it is now. Most of us look at our days in high school as insignificant days of learning lessons and building an educational base. But I look at our days at ESD differently. It was small enough that we really KNEW each other and we developed relationships that no matter how small they seemed, impacted us significantly for the rest of our lives. Since moving back to Dallas after my divorce in 2013, I have had so many incredible instances where this school re-entered my life in some amazing ways and changed me, supported me and taught me.

After I began this crazy CrossFit Odyssey business I received immediate support from ESD through fellow alumni, former teachers and coaches and even current teachers, coaches and students. People I hadn’t heard from in almost 30 years messaged me on Facebook and told me how proud and impressed they were of what I was doing. I couldn’t believe it – I was just doing something I love to do and trying to survive with 3 kids in tow. But I never took it for granted. These people reached out to me in kindness, and one thing I have learned in this life is to never dismiss a kind word from anyone.

A couple of years ago I got a call from an ESD parent who wanted us to train the ESD crew team and help them get stronger to improve their rowing. They had had some difficulty finding a great rowing coach who would stick around and get them where they wanted to go, but this coach was willing to work with us. We started with 15 kids and we went to work. Among those kids a few really stuck out – Bryce Miltenburger, Mason Goslee and Will Beck were among those. These three came to workout with us again and again over the years and worked incredibly hard at getting better. They all added pounds of muscle, improved their cardiovascular performance and improved their rowing times immensely.

Will Beck took his fitness to a new level by logging his food, watching his daily nutrition intake, recording his workouts, logging his improvement and even going so far as to start a clothing line for rowers and asking us about starting his own CrossFit gym in another town. To make it even more interesting, Will had shoulder surgery almost 5 years ago that could have easily prevented him from ever being athletic again, but he fought back with everything he had and now stands out as one of the top in his group. If you are interested in checking out Will’s progress, you can check out his Instagram accounts @wbeck @willbeckfitness and @provenapparel. If that doesn’t make a high school kid stand out, nothing will.

Along with Will, several others in the Class of 2019 were very impressive. This past spring their rowing team went to nationals and placed 10th in the nation for a quad boat. All in all, I think we had 18 boys and girls in the graduating class who trained with us at some point in time.  That number also included Danny Kung, who has done private training with John for the last 2 years and who was accepted to Washington and Lee College in his Junior year to play lacrosse, Sryia Dodda, who is rowing for her school. Cooper Newsome, the class Valedictorian, and Hank Parsons, my nephew!

Congratulations to Will Beck and the rest of the ESD Class of 2019 on what is surely the very beginning of your Journey to Extraordinary. We can’t wait to see you guys shine!