Interview with Bill Crawford (2/10/10)
Top 10 in the USA - '04 -'11
Posted: 8/24/11 at 7:45am
Interview with Bill Crawford (2/10/10)
Dr. Bill Crawford has a lot of angles in the sport of the Highland Games. He competes, he promotes and organizes and he writes. He is also known as a stone lifter. If you read Milo you have seen him write and lift stones. I have had the pleasure of competing at Loon Mountain. I was invited up to this game and was lucky enough to have gone. It was one of those things you remember. Just a great time because they made it that way. Dr. Bill has a rich lineage in weight lifting. Jack King and Bill Starr have both laid hands on this man and worked with him. There is a lot of knowledge there and I wanted to expose some of that to our people. There is a lot to be learned from this man. Dr. Bill is a lot of things to a lot of people, and you just can't help but enjoy this man. Great people. I love Bill Crawford.
So here he is and enjoy.
How old are you? 47
Where were you born? Oklahoma City, OK
Where do you live now? Concord, NH
How did you end up there? I took a job here in Concord and met my wife
What do you drive? Gulp. A Kia Sedona mini van. (Erik Sauve loves to ride in it)
What do you do for a living? I am a physician and I work as a hospitalist.
How did you get into that? I have family members in medicine and I was a geek in school
Tell us about your education? I graduated from the University of NC, graduate school at Columbia University, graduated from New York Medical College in 1995, residency in surgery at Lahey Clinic, MA and residency in family Medicine at Dartmouth
Tell me about your kids? We have 7 year old twins, a boy Billy and a girl Abby
Talk about your wife and how you met her? Many of the guys know my wife Holly, who is very instrumental in putting together the athletics here at Loon. She worked at my clinic here in Concord as a medical assistant and we really hit it off. We had to keep our relationship under wraps until we made our engagement public. I think she was shooting for job security but signed on for alot more.
As a kid growing up, what was your first job? Splitting wood.
When you grew up as a kid, what sports did you play? The usual. Baseball, football and growing up in North Carolina we played basketball alot but my body type didn't allow me to play on a basketball team. Being built like a T Rex isn't exactly condusive to hitting a J.
Did you throw in school? Yes, discus and shot put. Last I checked my discus record is still intact at my high school.
How did you get into weight lifting and when? I am fortunate to have grown up with a great uncle who had been a competitive weightlifter. My Uncle Junior was my grandfathers brother and he had lifted with the likes of Paul Anderson. He taught me the snatch, C&J and squats when I was 15. I started lifting competitively at age 17 after my uncle introduced me to Jack King. As a matter of fact the old High Point YMCA in High Point, NC was the site of Paul Anderson's first official 400 lb clean and press. The old wide well York plates he did the lift with were the first weights I lifted, if you don't count my Sears plastic and concrete set at home.
You trained at a gym with two famous weight lifters. Can you talk some about watching them and the type of training they did.
You are referring to Jack King and Bill Starr. I trained at Jack King's Gym in Winston Salem, NC, which is still there. Bill Starr would visit Jack for extended periods of time in the summers and I would also receive coaching from Bill. Looking back, that was phenomonal. In Bill's "The Strongest Shall Survive", he has a list of credits of those who influenced his thoughts on training and the first name on the list is Jack King. The basic philosophy was to squat hard and then replicate training for the Olympic lifts to shadow meet conditions. No mirrors near the platform at Jack's gym and he would make the lifters change bars and types of plates so we weren't in a comfort zone. Frankly, meets were easy after being trained by Jack. My Olympic lifts took off when Jack had me start soming we called Rapid Squats. Rapid Squats were pretty ballistic high bar squats where I would go to the bottom, stand and as soon as I stood I would go back to the bottom. I did 5 x 5 with 450 to 500 lbs on Tuesdays and Thursdays for years. Snatch on Monday, Rapid Squats on Tues and Thurs, then C&J on Saturday. Another favorite staple of Jack and Bill were to do C&J and then do a max rep set of 10 on the back squat on the same day. Lifting in a power rack was also a staple for us using short movements with lots of weight. I have to also mention that I trained with Jimmy Cook, 198 lb American Open Champion and also some with Lee James, 1976 Olympic Silver medalist as a 90 kg lifter.
Did they mentor you in some way and what did you get out of that? Jack is like a father to me. He taught me The Riddle of Steel. The discipline I received from him carried over into every other aspect of my life. I took that discipline and applied it to my studies to become a doctor.
I am sure there are some basic ideas these men believe in with training. Can you expound on some of the basics they taught and lived? Back to their training philosophies, they were both inovative in that they could diagnose a problem with a lift for a particular lifter and give a remedie, like a prescription, with corrective exercises. I think that could be used for throwing as well. They didn't teach a certain way to lift for everybody, but a way to lift that was best for that lifter. I think throwers can do the same as not everyone is the same. For example, for lifters with longer torsos he would have us put our feet closer together so that we would pull the bar a little higher to help with catching the weight in a snatch or clean.
Can you just talk about the gym, location and some of the equipment it had. Jack's Gym is old school. A lifting platform with bumper plates, power racks and old Nautilus machines. Pictures of Gerd Bonk (East German lifter), Steve Jeck and Arnold adorn the walls. Jack's Gym used to be on Hawhorne St in Winston Salem but has moved to an old auto garage which actually added to the old school feel. Jack is 72 and still does weighted chins and hundreds of push ups a week. If you can go to Jack's do it and he is usually there and loves to give advice about training.
What was your first Highland Game and when was that? I got into Games later in life. I threw at the 2000 Rhode Island Highland Games.
Who was at that game? Dana Florence and Erik Sauve ran the games. Don Stewart, Gerard Benderoth and Drew Hickey were some of the throwers. No classes. Just weights and we all threw together.
What made you decide to try and compete at a game? My Scottish heritage had exposed me to the games and no matter what I did as a lifter, my dad would always say - It's not the Games. Meaning real strength athletes toss the caber. I had grown up going to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.
You work with Loon on the game there, talk about your position and what you do with this game. I am on the Board of Directors for the New Hampshire Gathering of Scottish Clans. I serve as the Chairman of Athletics. I really am a leader of a team as no one person could pull this off. Finding sponsors, inviting athletes, projecting a vision of what I think the Games should look like and essentially assembling the team of people who work the event are my main jobs. Frankly, it is a labor of love as I want this to be a one of a kind event and we have been very fortunate to have a beautiful location and a devote following of people who make this so special.
Talk about the history of the Loon game. This year is our 35th Anniversary. I am told the first year it was a picnic with 100 people and an 8 track tape of bagpiping. John Lundstrom ran the athletics as the AD for years and frankly all the throwers in New England can trace their heritage to him. The NHHG now has weekend crowds in the 10's of thousands with a full time staff who pull the whole thing together. I want to mention Ray and Cinda D'Amante as they are our major sponsor each year and they throw a big shindig at their house on the ski mountain for us the weekend of the Games.
Talk about Wayne and his involvement in the games and some about him in general. Wayne Hill is a rocket scientist. He went to U Penn and then received his PhD from MIT. No kidding, he really is a rocket scientist. Wayne is thorough with putting together a games with implements that are made by a rocket scientist. Many of you have tossed his NASA approved composite, fabricated, calibrated, urethane coated cabers. Mostly Wayne is a friend who serves on the Board with me. He is a thrower so he knows how to make things right for the athletes. He is also a great guy as I am sure many of you know.
You write in Milo. How do you draw your inspiration for your articles and how did you get into this? Talk some of what you get from writing. I have a unique background as a lifter, thrower and doctor so I felt I had something to contribute. I contacted Randall and sent him and article. As for inspiration, it comes from my love of strength and my friends, mostly Erik, Dana, Robert, Don, Petur and many others. I try to also give some medical advice to hopefully help some of us live a little healthier.
You have seen the Highland Games change a lot over the years, what changes do you like and not like? We used to have to scrounge around for throwers but we now have loads of athletes which is good. I wish there were more top Scottish throwers for sure. I don't have anything that is glaringly wrong with the sport but I think all the people coming up should understand the history of our sport. If that is lost, our sport is lost.
What is your favorite event? Caber.
What is a common mistake you see people make in that event? Pulling too late.
Who were the first people to influence and coach you in the sport? Dana Florence and Erik Sauve showed me how to throw. I have had lots of coaching from Don Stewart who is an encyclopedia of knowledge. I can't thank them enough for their friendship and support over the years.
Who do you enjoy competing with and why? Dana, Erik, Don and Robert mostly. These are funny guys. For example, Erik, Robert and myself were deadlifting in the off season. Robert was tired of the jokes about a giraffe or something. So referring to Erik's height challenged existence (we call him Tattoo), Robert stands up with the bar and says "Hey Erik, come do some chin ups". Don hears about the story and asks Erik "How many reps did you get?" It gets pretty brutal around the New England crowd.
Talk about some of the throws, games and moments you are most proud of. For me personally, I am truly proud to be on the field every time I am out there. Wearing the kilt and being with my people, the throwers, who are great people, is what I am most proud of.
You are known for lifting stones. Talk about how that came about and some of the stones you have lifted all over the world. Erik and Dana got me into lifting stones. They make you strong in ways that only stones can. The functional and core strength from lifting stones carries over to throwing as well in my opinion. In Scotland I have lifted The Stone of the Fianna, The Inver Stone and the Dinnie Stones. In Iceland, I have been successful to carry the Husafell stone around The Pen, lifted all the Dritvik Stones, The Stones of Latra, The Judas Stone, The Brynjolfstak, The Peturs Stein and The Leggstein (The Tombstone). I love to lift natural stones here in New Hampshire as well.
What impresses you now in the sport? The American throwers seem to keep getting better and more competitive. The Masters, or Legends as I like to call them, are really putting up some great numbers.
Who makes you laugh at games now? I kind of talked about it before, but I always get a laugh with all those guys I mentioned earlier.
When I mention these athletes names, just write a few words about them you think of when you see it.
Ryan; The King of Highland Games
Stewart; The Teacher
Benderoth; A freak of nature
Gundmunndson; A great athlete and great friend
Pulcinella; One strong, funny person
Gunn; Hammers. The kind you throw and the kind he used to build storage units in my garage. A legend.
What fires you up now days in the games? Seeing a guy flip a big stick is always a favorite. I have to say that seeing Zolkiewicz on a good day in the weight over bar gets me inspired to train hard. Really, just being out there either running the games or throwing gets me fired up. As poor Petur. After watching him have all the fun over the weekend I always sucker him into lifting or throwing a day or two after the games.
What training philosophy do you follow in the gym? As a maturing athlete I like to think I am getting wiser. But as anyone can tell you I am a "More-on". The more on the the bar the better. I think hip loading and shoulder loading in a number of various lifts, speeds and positions will translate the best into throwing and also my other love of stonelifting.
What do you like to do outside of the games? Spend time with my family.
What other hobbies do you have? I read lots of books. Like I said, I'm actually a geek.
What is your favorite food? Protein in all its forms.
What supplements do you take? Multi vitamin with a high octane B complex vitamins, fish oil, glucosamine, vitamin C and protein shakes.
What do you drink with a meal at home? Mostly milk.
What beer do you like? Mostly micro brews. But my all time favorite is Skullsplitter.
Do you mow your own grass and what kind of mower do you have? Some cheap thing I bought at Home Depot. One of my neighbors told me I looked angry at the mower because I jerk it all over the yard. And yes, I do consider puch mowing my grass a cardio workout.
Do you like to garden? I have a small garden in the yard. Nothing is more satisfying than eating your own beans and tomatoes you just picked.
Are you a Democrat or Republican? I wish there was a third party, because I would join. I register as an independent but I mostly vote conservative.
Are you into Astrology? What sign are you? Myles, are you trying to pick me up?
Are you a religious man, and if so, what do you practice? I am a Catholic.
What kind of music do you like? Classical. Seriously, I love opera.
Where do you like to go to eat? My favorite is Japanese.
What does your wife think is your best body part? My butt, because that is the part I get out of bed everyday and go to work.
What does your wife think about you lifting in the gym, stones and the highland games? She has been unbelievably supportive. She tells people about me and I think she is proud of my throwing in Games and the stonelifting. I lift in the basement and she is constantly coming down and telling me I have too much weight on the bar. Actually to quote, "You are a beast. You are going to kill yourself". She hates watching me do strongman. Last year I was able to compete in the strongman competition at The Gathering in Edinburgh and she was telling all the guys to take it easy on me because I am old. But I did lift the McGlashan Stones.
What do you like to watch on TV? History Channel.
Are you a western movie or sci fi person? Tell a favorite. Conan the Barbarian, Braveheart and those types of movies. And I love a comedy classics like Animal House.
What are the goals for this year? I am really motivated this year to throw. But first, the winds across the great fjords of Iceland are calling me to Husafell in May. Old habits are hard to break.
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