For those of you who follow me on my other social media channels (especially Twitter) you know that I am a super fan of my baby brother Ben (aka. Vanilla Thunder) and his wrestling career. I’ve been cheering this kid on since he was in Grade 6 and I’m so proud of all he has accomplished so far. I thought it would be fun to dive into his training, nutrition (brace yourself), and how he psyches himself up.
- In a couple sentences tell us about your wrestling career so far.
I, Vanilla Thunder, am the current starting heavyweight wrestler for North Dakota State University wrestling. A Division 1 program and that competes in the Big 12 conference. I’ve been wrestling for a total of 10 years. I’ve placed 5th in Washington’s high school state tournament, was a two time NJCAA participant, NJCAA All American, and a Canadian Junior National Champion at the 120kg weight class. I have one more year of eligibility here at NDSU.
- Now that you are a Division 1 athlete- what is your daily training like during the season? And what is it like in the off season?
My Division 1 workout routine starts in September and ends in mid March. Just about everyday is filled with early morning conditioning, weight lifting, and afternoon practices.
The off season is a little different. The weight lifting grows in intensity while the wrestling practises lower. There are no 6:00 am sprints on the track during the off season either.
- You had to put on some weight (25 pounds I think) for your weight division this year- was that hard to do? How did you do it?
Putting on weight has normally been easy for me. I went from wrestling at 106lb during my freshman year of high school to being 260lbs in college. Puberty was a big contributor to the change in size but I also look at my genetics. Regardless of my white skin and blue eyes, I have a little bit of Samoan in my blood and think that’s where I get the size from. When it came to gaining that 20+ pounds last summer, I just ate A LOT and lifted like crazy. I stayed away from running as well haha!
- What is your nutrition like?
I categorize my diet as the “See-food Diet,” which means I pretty much eat anything in sight. This poor diet consists of Little Caesars pizza, McDonalds, Taco Bell, etc.
(I wish he was kidding but he was packing away 6 McDonald’s cheeseburgers and sending my family pics last year!)
Heres a few reasons why I eat so poorly.
- I dislike grocery shopping
- I dislike cooking
- I dislike cleaning dishes
- I’m always on the run.
- It’s cheap. $5 for a Little Caesars Pizza is a filling lunch for your boy.
When it comes to real meals however I eat a lot of carbs like rice and noodles.
- What supplements do you swear by?
During the off season I like to take weight gainer protein shakes. Ideally I try and take them twice a day but I make sure to always take one after a lift. Multi vitamins are also a daily thing too.
- How do you balance school and training and all that travel for competitions?
The University I attend does a good job of helping athletes by supplying tutors and academic advisers. I keep a constant clear line of communication with my professors about upcoming events and competitions.
- What kind of mental training do you do to prepare for a match? How do you pysch yourself up?
One thing I came to realize while competing is that everyone has their own methods of getting ready for competition. It’s not ideal for everyone to get angry and jacked up before competing because everyone’s personality is different. I have a specific routine I always follow before a competition that includes a certain way of taping shoes, the type of music I listen to, the amount of sweats I wear, or the time I warm up. When it comes to my matches, I stay more relaxed and level headed. The matches are the easy part of wrestling, most of the work a wrestler does is behind closed doors of the wrestling room, weight room or track.
- What do you do to cope with a loss?
Losing is terrible and straight up sucks. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by emotions but an elite athlete needs to be able to control those emotions. All of the greats in sports deals with loss. It sounds cliché but the only thing to do is to learn from it and move on. I never dwell on those losses. Dwelling is for pussies.
- What do you hope for the future?
Wrestling wise, I plan on becoming an NCAA All American next year and then transition into the sports of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Give it 5 years and one can find their boy Vanilla Thunder on the TV fighting in the UFC.
- Who’s your favourite sister? Answer honestly. (I know it’s Laura) BAH HA HA HA HA HA!
I love all my sisters equally because I’m the perfect brother
And just for fun- look how cute this pic is I snapped at Christmas!
4 thoughts on “Meet Vanilla Thunder- NCAA Division 1 Wrestler”
That’s so cool! It’s funny, I feel like wrestling was a BIG DEAL sport where I grew up (small town in eastern Washington), but now that I live in California, it’s not a thing at all. I don’t think the local high schools even have wrestling teams.
Where in Eastern Washington? He grew up in Richland!! Ha ha!
I grew up in Reardan, which is outside of Spokane. My dad grew up in the Tri-Cities, though!
HA! Small world! Wrestling is huge in Eastern Washington!