Thursday, September 4, 2014

Resistance Training. It works for your soul too.

    About a month ago I joined our local Anytime Fitness in hopes of regaining some past glory or at least shedding some of the weight that has accumulated on me the past few years.  It is time.  I have to admit that self pity does terrible things to ones athleticism and overall fitness.  So for the past month, every morning at 5:00 am my alarm goes off, and I drag myself to the gym.  I haven't noticed a lot of change, but things are fitting a little better, and more importantly, I FEEL better.
    The trick behind getting stronger is in fooling your body(and mind) into increasing weight and repetitions, finding some false barrier and breaking through it.  The same is true on the treadmill or trail.  Run just a little faster a little longer, and you will see increases in cardio-vascular health.  I have to say these things are happening for me now, and it is getting easier to get up every morning and continuing this ritual.
     I was thinking about this yesterday and this morning in the afterglow of another successful Jam the Gym event.  That might seem a little strange to you at first, but let me explain.  I think we have an opportunity to do similar things, as in training our soul rather than our bodies, in difficult times.  We established The Fluorescent Angels literally weeks after Jaime relapsed and Ellen was in the hardest part of her treatments.
We chose to do something good in the face for something bad.  To me this is like resistance training our souls.  Soon after that, emboldened by what we had done at the Relay 4 life with the Angels, we launched the idea for Jam the Gym.  We were stronger because we encountered this difficulty and found a way through it.  
    I thought that Jaime's passing would be one of the most difficult things I'd ever been through, and so again, in the worst of times, we found a way to put together another Jam the Gym shortly after.  Again, I believe WE GOT STRONGER.  Standing in front of a crowd and addressing the death of someone so dear to me, all the while working to do the things she would have loved to see us do...
I GOT STRONGER, and all around me others where doing it too.  Like bench pressing a Volkswagen.
     The day Jenna passed away was honestly the closest I have ever come to completely losing it.  For about a half an hour, I was completely mad.  Broken.  My heart ached in ways I never thought possible.  Somehow I shifted focus on those who needed me, broke out of it, and got to work on helping everyone else.  Thank God for my training.
     Ellen's relapse was a difficult day, to say the very least, but I am sure I handled it better because of the resistance training that came before it.  With Ellen gaining strength by the day, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.  She didn't fold up and quit, she has been training too.  Doing difficult things, under the worst of conditions makes us stronger.  Behind the scenes at Jam the Gym you'll find some really well conditioned souls. 
     Thank you all for every bit of support you have given.  It's like having a really strong spotter when you are lifting max.
Blessings to all,
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gracie McDermott. Jam the Gym means this...

     With most all of last years seniors already headed out of town, and into their bright future, I enlisted the last one here, Gracie McDermott, to "tap out a few paragraphs" about what Jam the Gym means.
She blew me away with this response.  Thank you Gracie, best of luck at West Chester!

     With only a little bit of time left before I start my years as a college student, I've spent the past couple of days stuffing my life into suitcases. One of those (to my mother's discontent) is filled to the brim with T-shirts. These tightly folded layers of colorful cotton don't seem like a big deal, but they define my high school career. A peek into the suitcase would reveal a navy shirt with white angel wings, a white one that shows a woman in a teal shirt, and a few that advertise three words: Jam
the Gym. Since I'll be going to a school so far removed from the big KA, I can already assume that new friends will be asking what my shirts mean. "What's a Jam the Gym?" "Who's Jaime?" "What does this all mean?" As a proud KAVB alum, I'll say just what those three words mean to me. And it'll sound a little something like this:

      Jam the Gym means purple and orange ribbons tied into my best friends' ponytails. It means teams from all over the area joining mine on the court for the National Anthem. It means support; it means community. Jam the Gym means being recognized for our struggle, and more importantly, our relentless fight. It means remembering Jaime, our inspiration. It means remembering Jenna, our faith. Jam the Gym means bleachers full of peers letting us know we aren't alone. Jam the Gym means Ellen Toy, the survivor. It means cancer doesn't stand a chance against our coach. It means being brave. Jam the Gym means heartfelt opening remarks by Tim Toy. It means gazing into the stands and nervously squeezing the hands of my teammates. It means swallowing our tears, taking a deep breath, and waiting for that first whistle. Jam the Gym, no matter the outcome of the game, means that we're stronger together than we could ever be apart. And that's absolutely beautiful. 

Gracie McDermott was the 2014 winner of the Jaime Vick Moran Scholarship
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Incredible Imagery you can't see.


They hold power, memories, and pieces of an incredible story.
And you probably can't see them.

I can't not see them.

Seven years ago, in the LGI room we held a meeting.  Ellen was the new volleyball coach at Kiski then, and we were meeting the team.  That night Mr. Berberich uttered the words that would become our first mantra.
"It's about to get serious"...
That was an understatement.
The very next week, at our first open gym the doors flung open and in stepped Jaime Vick.  She wanted to help...
We could never have imagined how much...
There is a place on the floor, which is usually covered by the bleachers on game night.  It's where Jaime was showing an exercise, and where she first suspected something was wrong, and the place up in the very corner of the gym, right of the press box where she was projected, larger than life on the wall, from her hospital room at Jam the Gym 4 Jaime.
A bus pulled out from here, in the athletic circle.  Before that bus reached its destination, 15 miles away at Franklin Regional, news would reach through a cell phone and change our lives.  Ellen Toy had Gastric Cancer.
In this lobby, we gathered to sign volleyballs.  First for our beloved Asst. Coach Jaime, and then for our lovely friend Jenna.  A coach and an athlete gone way too soon.  
Not long after, we met in the cafeteria, under the guise of a birthday celebration for Ellen.  It was February 25th, 2013.
The real purpose was to tell the team that Ellen's Cancer had returned, and that Dan Clair and Maggie Jones would coach the following season.  The team had become leery of these types of meetings.  Who could blame them?

This year, Jam the Gym turns 5.  We wish to make an image that lasts that night, as Dan hands the clipboard back to Ellen, and Ellen returns to our sideline.  Please consider joining us that night.  Help us wipe away some of these images, and replace them with one of victory.  
Jam the Gym is September 3rd, starting at 5:30 with Ellen's return to coach against Plum, followed by a great college match featuring Point Park and Carlow.  It promises to be an evening to remember!

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Going back, telling "Our Volleyball Story" one more time.

To all of you who have been visiting this blog, and like our story, I'm re telling it in order over at .  As much as I love the stories here, they are hard to navigate.  There you will find the pages are in order, and there are notes about this story on the home page.  occasionally I will redirect the reader back over here, for more of the story.  Hope this works!!!

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Jam the Gym 5

So proud to announce the line up for Jam the Gym 5!
Kiski Area vs. Plum
Point Park vs. Carlow
Weds. night, Sept 3, 2014
Be prepared for a night of reflection and celebration!
Five years of great volleyball, great friends and great causes!
We will again be supporting the Jaime Vick Moran Scholarship.
Make plans to join us!
More details to come!!!
Jam the Gym is FIVE!!!
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Athletes Abroad/More than a good read!

In the past few days I have been reflecting on the past year, and why I believe volleyball peeps, this ever widening support group of players, coaches and fans, are the best.  After happening into the National Team on twitter thanks to the caring and compassion of Alisha Glass, Christa Harmotto, Cassidy Lichtman, and the rest of the team, Ellen twitter "Coached" with Karch.(The Canyon, The Other Side of The Canyon, here on this blog)
Jam the Gym came and went, but we kept in touch with our new friends through their personal blogs, and USA Volleyball's website.  We stayed up late and got up early to watch matches in both Serbia and Japan.  

During this time, with the use of @JamtheGym's twitter account I have followed, and gained the following of many more in the international volleyball community.  I find their lives so interesting and their "stories of the road" so compelling.  Twitter has become this incredible tool for reaching out and learning, and I think that's its best purpose.  Social media, for all it's problems and failures is making what used to be "big ol' world" much smaller.

In the past few days two of my favorite "follows" have unified many of the personal blogs of not only international volleyball players, but American athletes playing professional sports all over the world.  Rachael Adams (@RADAMSS) and Geena Urango (@urango) have created a very interesting blog called Athletes Abroad(@AthletesAbroad1 on twitter)  The subjects covered are vast and divergent, but center on life as American's in foreign countries.  Helpful tips on travel, food and beverage, and culture are witnessed from the eyes of American athletes.  They even gave me the chance to ask Ten Questions, and had US National Team middle hitter Max Holt answer them!(

You might ask why I believe this to be so important.  Our country is represented in the world community in so many ways, and by so many people, and not many of them are good.  We cannot depend on television, politicians, and news media to shape the world's perception of us.  These kids are on the front lines, playing sports, interacting in the world as Americans.  They are a more accurate representation of  America and Americans that anything else.  It would be a mistake for us not to learn along with them.  For this reason take the time to follow along with their exploits at
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Senior Night 2013

I've been tailing Coach Toy to volleyball matches for a very long time now, and in those many years I've witnessed at least 30 Senior Nights.  They always challenge me emotionally.  Time has always been my least favorite of God's creations, and "Senior Night" is a true indicator that time has indeed marched on.  This year, however will be even more difficult, for reasons I hope to explain.
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