Friday, October 1, 2021 l 5:15 AM l Kiewit Middle School l The Combine
Pax: The Big One, Vandelay, Patton, Thor, Yodel, Slick, Chiclets, Night Crawler, Skipper, Doppler, Superfly, Beta Max, Wentworth, Short Sale, The Curse, Slow Pitch, Khaki’s, Bubbles, Toto, Kill Switch, Sgt. Slaughter, Retweet, LPC, Moon Man, Mufasa, Thomas, Tater Tot, Sparty, Wait Time, Pantyhose, Obe 1, Beaver, Barbershop, Wax On
When I initially agreed to lead today I could’ve never imagined having to do so on a day that would be so heavy for the Pax of Omaha. I had gone about my week as normal without giving much thought to my Q until yesterday morning. I had thought of some ideas in my head throughout the week and began to finalize them over the lunch hour in my office.
At approx. 2:30 pm a co-worker with ties to the Creighton baseball program came into my office. She shut the door and said, “Hey, I know you are friends with Chris Gradoville and I think there’s something you should know before it becomes public.” She sat down and told me the news about Nugent as tears streamed down her face. I sat there in silence as she divulged the information she knew about what had transpired earlier that morning.
I sat in silence. I don’t think I said a word for nearly 3 minutes. I was numb. The room seemed like it was spinning. It didn’t seem real. It was only the feeling of the cold tears running down my cheek that made me realize this was not a dream. I tried to gather my thoughts but the same things kept skipping through my brain like a broken record: Nugent, his wife, his family, his teammates, his friends, his F3 brothers.
After gathering my thoughts I knew I had to scrap the plan I had for the workout at Combine the next day. (Sgt. Slaughter and I had planned a surprise co-Q with each other. I texted and told him that I thought we should scrap the plan. He agreed.) Hearts would be heavy the next morning as the news spread to the Pax and we had to honor Nugent somehow. The thought popped in my head that we could perhaps honor him by repeating one of his workouts. I searched the Q schedule to find the date of Nugent’s VQ and then went on the website to find his backblast. When I found his backblast I immediately scrolled down to his COT. It was perfectly written and the message became clear to me that the beatdown and COT needed to be shared again the next morning.
I didn’t sleep well last night. I’m guessing I had maybe 2-3 hours. I couldn’t stop thinking about Nugent, his M, and my friends who knew him far better than me and who were struggling so badly with the news of his death. I was nervous to lead and if I’m being honest, I didn’t really want to. I didn’t feel adequate to lead on a day like this. I didn’t know Nugent nearly as well as some of the Pax who I knew would be there the next morning. I didn’t know the right words to say to comfort the heavy hearts that would be in that circle.
I had my alarm set for 4:15 am but I was up and out of bed at 3:30 after a restless night. I showed up to the Combine around 4:20 to set up. The Combine is always silent this early but this morning was more of an eerie silence. Khaki’s pulled up, got out of his truck and we embraced with a hug. I needed it.
After setting up I went back to the parking lot where Bubbles was just finishing his pre-run. He and I sat down on the curb together. There was about 30 seconds of silence before we spoke. We acknowledged the heaviness of the day and the emotions we both felt. Bubbles was a calming presence for me and it helped knowing that he was feeling many of the same emotions I was.
When the rest of the pre-runners returned I approached Tater Tot. I told him that I wasn’t sure how to lead on a day like this. I didn’t know how to start or what to say. Tater assured me that everything would be fine and that the Pax would pick me and others up. He told me to go with my feelings. I needed to hear that.
I walked back over to where the Pax had gathered in a circle by the shovel flags. As expected, there was very little mumblechatter. I could feel the heaviness of the group. My hands started to shake. I was very nervous.
At 5:30 am, I welcomed everyone, stated the mission of F3 and the 5 core principles. I then acknowledged that this morning was heavy and would probably be different. I offered to the Pax that I know some of them had known Nugent well and for a long time and some, like me, had just started to get to know him through his time in F3. I offered some of the emotions I was feeling and perhaps the Pax were feeling as well.
Sadness. Sadness for the loss of such a good man. Sadness because he was no longer standing beside us in the flesh. Sadness because we wouldn’t be able to reach out to him as we had become so accustomed to.
Gratitude. Gratitude for the time spent with Nugent. Gratitude for the difference he made in our community and world. Gratitude for the difference he made in our lives. Gratitude that we were able to be his teammate for a long or even brief period of time.
Anger. Anger for the way in which he was taken from us.
I explained to the Pax that these feelings were real and they were ok. It was going to be hard but I was going to try to live within gratitude rather than anger. But anger is ok. It’s real. It’s authentic. God works in the anger too.
I informed the Pax that one way we were going to honor Nugent was by repeating aspects of both of his F3 Q’s. I told them that I was going to need their help along the way. Every time I had tried to familiarize myself with and read the details of Nugent’s beatdown my eyes flooded with tears so I wasn’t too familiar with certain aspects of it.
We then mosey’d to mid-field and completed the beatdown as follows. We picked each other up along the way, taking turns leading the exercises listed.
The Pax were in sync and the mood was respectful and reflective throughout the beatdown. Nugent’s presence was felt in each cadence and rep.
Warm – A – Rama:
· 20 (IC) SSH
· 20 (IC) Tappy Taps
· 20 (IC) Cherry Pickers
· 20 Body Squats
5 Sets of line sprints. Complete 5 Monkey Humpers in cadence at the end of each line sprint.
4 locations in each corner of the football field with a list of exercises. There was another cone set up at the 50 yard line which is where Pax ran to do another exercise before continuing onto the next location.
50 yard line exercises:
1st time through: 20x Merkins
2nd time through: 20x Carolina dry docks
3rd time through: 20x Squats
4th time through: 20x Monkey Humpers
1. 15x Bobby Hurleys
2. 15x Reverse Lunges
3. 15x Pickle Pushers
4. 15x SSH
1. 15x Plank Jacks
2. 15x Merkins
3. 15x Alternating Shoulder taps
4. 15x Hand Release Merkins
1. 15x Big Boys
2. 15x LBC’s
3. 15x Oh Dollys
4. 15x American Hammers
1. 15x Gas Pumpers
2. 15x Copperhead Squats
3. 15x Mountain Climbers
4. 5x Burpees
Namarama: today we were all Chris Gradoville, 37, Nugent. (He is and always will be with us and in us. He is forever our teammate.)
Announcements and Prayer Requests:
Kill Switch mentioned the Good Buddies event happening that evening in honor of his M’s first husband who had also tragically passed away years prior. Every year they gather on his birthday for a fundraiser in which the proceeds are used for a scholarship at Creighton Prep.
Patton spoke about how grateful he was for the opportunity to get to know Nugent through pre-runs and beatdowns.
Retweet shared that the reason he received his F3 name is because in his first post he told the Pax that he followed Nugent on Twitter. After seeing Nugent retweet the namearama he became interested in F3 and ultimately decided to post. Khaki’s was the Q that day and said, “You’re, Retweet!”
Tater Tot offered some heartfelt words about the difference Nugent made in the lives of the current Creighton baseball players and the impact Nugent had in his own life and that of the greater community. He also informed the Pax how much Nugent loved F3 and each one of them in the group.
I shared the COT from Nugent’s VQ:
First off thank you for having me Q and lead this great group of men today and be a part of the F3 brotherhood. I’ve always been a part of teams in my life. Playing multiple sports since a very young age, I’ve always been a part of a team. Playing from youth leagues, into high school, into college athletics, and even professionally for 5 years. There’s always been a team I have been a part of. I was even a captain on many of those teams leading us into the competition.
Post playing days after retirement I worked in a chiropractic sports injury clinic on a medical team. I opened a sports performance gym for 5 years and had 10 employees and was a part of that training team.
I tell my wife all the time. We are a team. Her and I together going through life as one unit.
But there has always been something missing from all of the teams. Something that takes us a while to figure out. A while to grow up and find your path. And finding F3 I feel I have found what I am looking for. As I strive as a personal goal of mine, to get more involved with F3 from the other 2 F’s outside of the Fitness F. The fellowship, The faith, and the community leadership is what I have longed for. It’s what I have been missing. This is the team I have been looking for and yearning for. True and real Male friendship and leadership and community involvement. Not only because of the multiple Creighton baseball teammates that are involved with F3 who are my buddies (many are here today) but because of all of you other men I am getting to know and be with on a consistent basis.
Teams deal with adversity of all sorts, and on this team, the adversity and challenges we face are the everyday world called life! And I want to thank you all personally for letting me be a part of your team, as we tackle the challenges of this crazy ass world together, helping each other, and leaning on each other, to be better men, be better leaders, and be better lights of God. To wrap this up and end my COT the question I leave you with is, What team are you on? Who will you surround yourself with to make a strong powerful team to dominate life day in and day out? I ask myself this every day and I hope you do too!
Chris Gradoville, 37 – Nugent – RIP
Prayer: Tater Tot led the Pax out with some beautiful words.
The words in Nugent’s COT will resonate with me forever. The message is clear.
It was an honor for me to lead today. It’s a day I’ll never forget. I hope I honored Nugent appropriately. We needed each other today and we were there for each other. That’s what this team is built for. I know what team I’m on and this is the greatest team I’ve ever been a part of.