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Interview with Sean Betz (4/12/10)

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    Posted: 8/24/11 at 7:49am
Interview with Sean Betz (4/12/10)

Here is my interview with Sean Betz.  Not only is he one of the nice guys in the sport, but he is world champion.  I mean what gets better than that?  If you don't like Sean, you don't like much.  I have had the pleasure of competing with him in the East Coast Championships, and the guy is really that nice.  Soft spoken Christian man.  So here you are, enjoy and let me know what you think.

How old are you? 33 years old


Where were you born? Greeley, Colorado


Where do you live now? Omaha, Nebraska


How did you end up there? I went to college in a nearby town (Fremont) and met Rachel and we stayed around here and got married.


What do you drive?  2002 Ford Explorer, it has 170,000 miles.  I need to get a new vehicle soon.


Are you a fast driver or slow ?  When I managed a health club I drove real fast and got 3 speeding tickets in 1 month 1 time.   Since I've become a trainer again I drive slow.


You ever change your own oil?  I changed the oil of a plane a few times, but never my own vehicle.


Do you like to fly?  Not really.  Omaha has alot of small planes. I've gotten used to it.


Have you gone green?  No.  I don't think its bad to take care of the earth.  But I do think we aren't going to make the difference in whether or not the earth survives.


What do you think about global warming?  Think it is mostly media smoke.   Just a way for progressive liberals to make more money.


Talk about meeting your wife and you getting married some.   I saw her in lunch line in college.  Thought she was cute.  Asked her out a few weeks later.  We became good friends and it grew into a marriage later.  I'm very lucky to have met Rachel.  She is beautiful, a great wife, mom, and great cook as well.  I cant believe any wife handling me traveling and competing any better than her.  All of us pros have unbelievably supportive wives.  We couldn't do what we do without them.



When youre away from home, do you call home a lot and talk to the wife?  How often?  Maybe 1 time a day.   More now since we have 2 sons.  Rachel is pretty simple.  She's not a phone talker or shopper for that matter.


Talk about the kids and ages and what that means to you to have family.  I have 2 sons, Aidan(4), and Eli (4months old).  There everything to me and Rachel.  Eli is 20lbs and about 30inches tall at 4 months old.  Aidan is 4 foot tall at 4.  Both are going to be throwers!


What do you do for a living? I'm a personal trainer and a professional highland games athlete.


How did you get into that?  I applied at a 24 hour fitness nearby.  I proved I could train people and have been there 11 years.  Outlasted nearly everyone.  It's coming to an end soon as I'm going into my own business this summer.


Tell us about your education?  I have a bachelor of science degree,  Youth and Family ministry


As a kid growing up, what was your first job?Worked for a cropduster company.  Thats where I changed a plane's oil.  I wouldn't of flown it afterward.


When you grew up as a kid, what sports did you play? Football, Basketball, Baseball, Field and Track


Did you throw in high school and if so what did you throw?Threw the shot and discus.


Tell us about throwing in college.  I loved competing in college.  I was at Midland college an NAIA school.  My senior year I was an all-american in the discus getting 3rd place.  I was a consistent 54-55 foot shotputter and 160+ discus thrower.  Really never had a coach.


What was your first Highland Game and when was that? Evans, Colorado  June of 1999


Who was at that game?  Karl Dodge ran the games. He was at his peak.  Craig Palm, Matt Rauzi, Bert Budge to name a few.  I registered as a C thrower.  The next weekend was the KC games and they moved me up to an A thrower.


What made you decide to try and compete at a game?  It looked fun.  I thought that I wouldn't totally embarrass myself.


Talk about competing as an AM and some of the games you enjoyed.  I loved the local games in Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado.  McPherson was my favorite because of the small town, good field of athletes and great guy running it(Al Myers).  I liked Pleasanton and the East Coast champs in Alexandria as well. 


What is your favorite event? It changes.  Right now probably the light hammer.


What is a common mistake you see people make in that event?  They let their low point float left and don't use their feet or hips.


Who were the first people to influence and coach you in the sport?  Ryan Vierra first and foremost.  Really learned the most from watching him and asking questions.  Al myers, and Karl Dodge as an am and Coach Mac for a short time in 2002.


Talk about some of the pro games you have done and your favorites.  Bethlehem, Pleasanton, Fergus,  Victoria, Edinburgh2009.  My favorites were Fergus 2005 Worlds and West Virginia 2008 Worlds, because of they way we were treated.  In Scotland I love the halkirk games and Inverary games.  Ireland has a great games too.


Other than the USA, what country do you enjoy competing in the most, and why?  Its a toss up between Canada and Scotland.  Canadians treat you great and have great venues.  Scotland has all the old records by Capes, Rowe, and Bill Anderson.  It's equal in my mind.


Who do you enjoy competing with and why?  Larry Brock, Ryan Vierra, Dan McKim, Pockoski, HB3, KO, etc. and everyone else in the class.  Everyone just competes hard every weekend and we all know each other very well.  It is evident when they had Larry anounce in KC.  He knew all of our hometowns and everything about us.  I think we all know these things about each other.  Plus there is alot of depth of talent in the pro class right now.  You have to be on your game.


Let me mention some names and you comment on them;

Vierra;  He is the highland games to alot of us.  Will help you out even when your challenging him.  Taught alot of us how to act as professionals as well.  Best of all time in my book.

St.Clair; Very intelligent.  Will take time to listen to you.  Very strong.  Good to see him back throwing more.

Brock; Great thrower.  Extremely fast and athletic.  Always tells you the truth.  Has become one of my best friends on the circuit. Although he is frugal, he is also very generous to his friends and puts alot of time in for athletic directors. 

Craig Smith; when he is healthy he is one of the best.  When he is not healthy he still competes very hard and doesn't cry about it or blame it on his injury.  Well respected

KO;  Me and KO are two different people with the same career, same faith, and same love for the sport.  I know KO is always putting the time in to be better.  Obviously a very strong thrower.

Will Barron;  Great intensity.  Great guy.  Has a pure love for the sport. Will do anything for you.  Has thrown very far at every event at different times in his career.

Dave Barron; a very clutch competitor.  I have seen dave go from 8th to 1st or 2nd in an event more times than I can count.   A very intelligent yet down to earth guy.  Has as much talent for the sport as anyone.

HBIII;  Phenomenal athlete.  Can't believe I actually compete on the same field as him.  Even a better person.  Has had an awesome career.   Has his priorities right.

Hadley; extremely strong and explosive.  Has matured alot over the last few years into a well-rounded thrower.  Loves the sport as much as anyone.  Will do what it takes to get better.  Future world-champion.


Talk about some of the throws, games and moments you are most proud of.  I would say turning the caber in West Virginia at the 2008 worlds.  I was the first person to turn it and it was the beginning of the 3rd round, and a huge caber.  By doing that I pretty much secured the win.  It was my worst event and although ryan and larry finished above me in that event, the 3rd place kept me in 1st, knowing all I had to do was clear 15feet in the wob.


Talk about training and your philosophy in the area of throwing?Like most I lift more in the winter and throw more in the spring.  I alternate between a technique type day and a harder drill day.


Tell us about some of the injuries you had as an athlete.  None majore.  Just some knee and back issues every now and then.  The worst injury I suffered was at the Halkirk games in Scotland where the bar detached from the ropes on the WOB.  It came crashing down on my head and sliced me open.  I bled pretty badly and was taken to the emergency room.


What impresses you now in the sport?  How much depth of talent is in the pro class and how much athletes of all classes love the sport and spend alot of resources to try and get better at it.


Who makes you laugh at games now?Watching will barron warm-up for each event.


If you were winding up in the hammer and it slipped from your hands, who in the sport would you most like to see the hammer hit in the sack?Probably my own.  I don't know how I would handle hurting somebody else that bad.


What training philosophy do you follow in the gym?Good basic movements without all the assistance movements.  Olympic lifts,deadlifts, squats and variations, standing presses and push presses.  I change reps and set alot.  I really like doing multiple sets of medium to heavy weight for 1's, 2's, and 3's.


When did you start lifting weights and what got you started?Seriously in college.  I was always a good athlete but wasn't strong.  My freshman year in college I worked out hard and learned alot about myself.  I have really loved working out ever since.  I worked out in high school but it wasn't serious and everybody worries to much about what each other is lifting.


If I told you that you could only do one movement in the gym, what would that be and why?Snatch grip deadlift because of the extra leg involvement and obviously hips, back, and good stability work.  The extra few inches of range of motion hit more things.


Put together a week for us in season in terms of lifting days and volume and throwing days and volume?With a games at the end of the week I like to lift tuesday and throw wednesday.  I would do like 6 sets of 2 hang snatch, some front squat, and maybe superset it with push presses.  With no games at the end.  I would do 2 days of lifting and 2 days of throwing.  Each day being different/


Talk about the mental preparation you might do for a game, or a throw?  I like to write down 1 thing to work on in each event.  I throw well when I'm confident.


Do you have any rituals?I always carry the implements to the trig with my left hand.  I don't know why.  Usually hookgripping it.


In the off-season, what are your goals?Have longer throws on average. 


Do you prefer to throw alone or with someone in practice?  Usually alone.


When you won the world championship, talk about how you felt inside and what this meant to you. I couldn't believe I had done it, but I knew I was prepared enough for it.  When I first started in this sport I never thought that I would win the world championhships.  When it really hit me is when David Webster gave me the Jon Pall Sigmarrson sash that all the world-champions have worn.  I looked at all the names and realized that I was only the 3rd american to ever wear it in the 30 years of the worlds.  That gave me goosebumps.


Talk about some other wins that really had meaning to you and why?Winning in Pleasanton 2007.  It was my first major win over a stacked field.  I've always deeply respected that games and am very honored to have won it a couple of times.


I find the men in the Highland Games funny and nice, do you agree and why do you think this is?You can just be yourself and bring your family and throw things.  It puts everyone in a good mood.


Talk some about the hammer, what you are thinking about, what you are trying to accomplish with the throw and your thoughts on training it.  Coach us up on this event from the Betz perspective.  I really keep the low point on my right side and catch the hammer behind me.  Once I really utilized a heel toe foot movement like the olympic hammer it has smoothed things out.  For a few years I went only two winds to work on the finish of the movement.  To be able to sit back then lift lock and block and throwing my head back I started to get good throws.  I then went back to 3 winds 3 years ago and have built it into my most consistent event other than the stones.


What do you like to do outside of the games?  I used to hunt and fish alot growing up.  Don't have much time now.  I like to go to church and be with my family. 


What other hobbies do you have?I play the guitar occasionally.


Are you really into the history of the games or do you just like to compete?  I like seeing the history of it in Scotland.  That is what its about.  Here in the states I don't really think about it.  To be honest the bagpipes start getting annoying and you hear them in your sleep.  Mainly just the competing.


What is your favorite food?everyone who knows me knows that its mexican food.




What supplements do you take?multi, protein, amino acids, occasionally creatine and fish oil


What do you drink with a meal at home?Water


What beer do you like? Dont drink much.  Blue moon if I have one.


Do you live in a house, apartment or ?house for 6 years now




Do you like to garden? I don't know, never really tried it.




Do you mow your own grass and what day do you do this in season when traveling?  Rachel likes to do it.  I will do it if I have time during the day.  She is home with the boys and Aidan loves watching the grass being mowed.




Are you a cat or dog person?dog


Are you to the political right or left?right


Are you into Astrology?  What sign are you?Cancer but I don't get into Astrology


Are you a religious man, and if so, what do you practice?I'm a Christian.  I believe a man named Jesus lived and died and rose again so that we all could be saved.  But its our choice to accept it and let it change your life.


Talk about some of the music you listen to at different times.  favorite is Van Halen.  I like most rock music.  Anything that is motivational.  I don't get into the hate type stuff.  If it sounds like a demonic dog barking it doesn't motivate me. 


Where do you like to go out to eat?Lina's cafe.  A new mexican place in town.  2 burritos for 6 dollars.


What do you like to watch on TV?The Ultimate Fighter is my favorite.  Pawn stars on the history channel.  I like watching any sports events.


Do you watch more Oreilly or Oberman?definitely O'reilly.  can't stand oberman.  way to cynical and sarcastic.  Not a way to live your life.


Are you a western movie or sci fi person?  Tell a favorite.  I like the clint eastwood stuff.  Pale rider and hang-em high is good


What are the goals for this year?  Win the worlds again.  Most definitely win the Celtic classic.  I've finished 2nd 3 times and 3rd 2 times there.  Maybe throw 150 in the light hammer and finally get 17 standing wob.  I've hit 16 feet probably 100 times and 16'6" 15 times, but never 17.


Thank you brother.

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