I am like a lot of older athletes, in that I still feel that I have at least one more good fight, one more top five finish left in me. I still train fairly rigorously, watch what I eat, and try my best to live a balanced lifestyle. I researched the physical performance requirements of many California based law enforcement academies, and wondered if I could meet their basic entrance standards. These standards, as are the standards of most organizations which require a modicum of fitness/human performance, are only MINIMUM performance standards. To be realistically considered for acceptance into any of these training venues, one must certainly exceed these minimum standards.
I was rudely roused from my self-imposed delusions of human performance excellence, a few months ago, when I discovered that I struggled to perform even three pull ups. This was after years of fairly rigorous exercise; none of it containing pull ups, however. After a few weeks of training, I was finally able to execute three sets of six or eight pull ups, per workout. I also practiced hopping over a 34 inch barrier in the manner prescribed by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) (with both hands on the barrier).
I had two more obstacles to master: the six foot tall wall, and the six foot tall chain link fence. In an interesting bit of coincidence, we have both structures conveniently located on the high school campus on which I teach. I scaled a twelve foot chain link fence a few times, last year (trying to take a short cut back to my car after an evening football game). How could I demonstrate to myself that I could still easily scale these six foot structures? I certainly couldn’t do these things while the students were around (“Okay, so Mr. Uribe’s FINALLY lost it … !”), and the school is about 45 minutes away from my home.
Again, as luck would have it, our school was suddenly down one security guard, this week. A substitute security guard wasn’t in place, yet, when the email notification was sent to the teaching staff. That’s right, folks; I volunteered to cover a security beat at my school during my preparation period. I was all caught up with my lesson plans through the end of the month, and my students’ work was graded. I entered my grades after school (to decompress after the day), so I stopped by the office and asked if I could lend a hand. Unlike most of the teaching staff, I normally perform security functions at my school, after school, so walking a security beat wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for me.
I was issued a radio, assigned a beat, and went to work. My school’s campus is wide open, much like a community college. The kids know me, I know them, and there are relatively few adults who traverse our campus at any given time. My beat included that part of the campus where both the six foot wall and the six foot chain link fence were located! The chain link fence was still fairly easy to scale. The wall was an entirely different experience, however.
Imagine my surprise. Imagine the painful blow to my athlete’s 54 year old ego, as I found myself repeatedly unable to scale this wall! I even went home, and successfully scaled the wooden fence surrounding my backyard several times. The wooden fence was about eight inches shorter than the wall at my school. I kept trying to scale this brick wall during my prep. period security shift, but to no avail. I even consulted our school’s School Resource Officer (a police officer assigned to patrol a few of the schools in our school district) with regard to some strategies he might have to scale this wall. He shared that there’s a skill set involved, and he recommended a few of the wall-scaling techniques taught to the recruits at one of the local police academies.
Well, with perseverance, some sore muscle groups (i.e, abdominals, rotator cuff), and a few bruises later, I finally scaled the wall three times! I muscled it, so I couldn’t do it more often, that shift. I’ll most certainly have to master one of the skill sets recommended by the officer, if I want to be able to stack up to the twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings who aspire to a career in law enforcement. It was invigorating to challenge myself with something new, to have a small goal –a curious obstacle which piqued my interest and my sense of competition- and to conquer it.
Baby on board
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