Home > Life > Dedication.


Yesterday, October 26th, was my brother’s birthday. Since he was killed by a drunk driver in December of 1998,I try to actively remember my brother in a way that feels OK to me with each passing birthday. My brother was a fun, giving, intelligent, loyal, hard-working kid and I want my actions to honor who he was. When I learned over the summer that there was a local jiu jitsu tournament on my brother’s birthday, my first reaction when my teammates expressed interested in competing was to tell them no. I felt afraid that I might have a mental break thinking of my brother that day and ruin my shot at winning. Then I thought about it. I decided that competing in a tournament would be a pretty great way to celebrate my brother’s birthday. He practiced judo when we were kids, but he also played soccer and ran track and cross country. As an engineering student, my brother was frequently entering academic contests. While he was not outwardly competitive like I am, my brother definitely liked to test himself. I felt a tiny surge of courage shoot through me when I mentally committed to competing on October 26, 2013. I felt even better when my dad agreed to come watch me fight that day.

In the few weeks leading up to the tournament, I was the calmest I’ve ever been before competing. I normally fret incessantly over whether or not I’m training enough, training too much, if my weight’s OK, if my strategies will work, etc., etc. I’m not sure what changed though. I felt good for once. I felt strong. The night before the tournament, I even slept a full night’s sleep. I was relaxed during the car ride. Once we got the the tournament, the nervous energy hit me and I felt all light and floaty and antsy. I wanted to get out there. I actually felt confident despite the tension I carried in my shoulders and the shakiness in my stomach. I wanted this.

I didn’t get what I wanted though. I had two matches and I lost both. The first match was kind of a joke and I didn’t last very long. The second match though, that was my match. I wanted that win. I know I fought hard, but I still came up short. For the first time since I was kid, I nearly cried when I walked off the mat. I’ve lost a lot of matches since I returned to training as an adult. I’ve probably lost three times as much as I won, but none of those loses hurt me like yesterdays’ did. I’m still pretty upset today. I haven’t even watched my matches yet. It still stings. I told myself when I returned to training as an adult that I would not be a sore loser, but I’m sore today.

For me, losing isn’t about the other person. I’m not sore at the girls who beat me. Since the women’s grappling community is small, we’re pretty friendly with each other once we’re done fighting. The girl I lost my second match to introduced herself to me afterwards. She told me she wanted to let me know how strong I was, and asked if we could exchange contact information to keep each other informed of any good training opportunities. She was great. I’m just sore at myself. In the past when I’ve lost, I thought maybe it was because I didn’t want it badly enough. I wasn’t confident enough or believed winning was in my reach. But I thought those things yesterday and it didn’t work out. Of course, I have to get technically better. That will never change as long as I practice judo and jiu jitsu. But something is missing. I don’t know what it is yet, but I want to find out.

I know that a big part of me wanted to win gold for my brother. I wanted to win gold with my dad by my side on this day that is sometimes so sad for us. I wanted to make my brother proud. But as I take stock of where I am right now in my life and in training, I still feel confident when I see how much love and support surrounds me. My girls that I train with–we push each other, we cheer other on, and tease each other when necessary. One of our girls who wasn’t fighting even made us fresh vegetable juice for the morning of the tournament. One of the guys I train with volunteered to adjust his game this week to be more like a small girl to help get me ready. At the tournament, our childhood friend texted me to wish me luck. When my coach put his hands on my shoulders, he made me feel ready. And best of all, my dad was there. I lost two matches yesterday, but maybe that’s all I lost.

So yesterday was for my brother. When I went back to jiu jitsu practice this morning instead of sulking, that was for him, too. Latimers get mad, but they don’t give up.

Me with my ace teammate/superfriend and me with my pops.

Me with my superfriend/superteammate and me with my pops

  1. October 27, 2013 at 17:06

    I said it yesterday, and Ill say it again now, Lori. I’m so proud of you. I am proud of not only the courage you showed getting on the mat, or the rememberance you dedicate to your brother, but also for your honest reflection of the experience and your feelings with such an openness to share.

    Yout brother is one of the best men I have ever known. Had he been alive today, I know he would be proud of you. He would have been at that match to cheer for you and coach you. But Despite his passing, Lori, in many ways he was.

  2. jcarpenter001
    October 27, 2013 at 17:49

    Love and hugs to you Lori. Win or lose a particular match, you are awesome and most definitely a winner overall.

  1. October 26, 2014 at 15:30

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