Sunday, March 25, 2012

Jason's Weekly Blog: Hard Work, Determination and Smashley

This week I want to talk about hard work and determination. I think a great way to discuss those two things is by talking about Ashley "Smashley" Hawkins. So let's do just that.

About a year and a half ago, I covered my first MMA card. It just happened to be NAAFS Eve of Destruction. An all female card. First fight up was Ashley Hawkins against Trisha Gerus. What do I remember about that fight? In all honesty not a whole lot. But what I do remember is it was a fun fight and the two girls brought it. I do remember that Ashley showed some potential, but to me it was the potential to be a decent fighter. Not much more than that. I did not know at that time how good Ashley would become or that she would become such a good friend.

Later through mutual friends I would get to know Ashley. Her desire to learn and improve really impressed me. She was always asking questions, always trying to pick up even the smallest bit of advice. Her next fight was with Trisha Barr. Everyone knows how hard that fight was for me. Because I consider Trisha and Ashley to be such good friends. Ashley lost a majority decision, and I said then and will still say, I agree with the decision. I felt Trisha won. But Ashley impressed. She fought a girl with more experience and hung in there. In fact, if it wasn't for an incredible main event, that fight would have been fight of the night. I know Ashley wasn't happy with a loss, but I couldn't have been more proud.

Then we move to a fight with Emily Easton. Emily showed up way over the agreed upon weight. Ashley allowed Emily to drop a couple pounds and took the fight. Ashley dominated the fight. Easton was content to just get it to the ground and lay on her. From the bottom, Ashley was still the aggressor and looking for ways to finish. What I was most proud of, was in those situations, when someone takes you down and just lays there, a fighter can get impatient or frustrated and make a mistake. Ashley didn't do that. She stayed composed and did what she had to do.

Since then Ashley has left her gym. She needed a place to train. So she makes a two hour drive often to train here. So in addition to getting her frequent training in with someone I respect so much in Jessica Dinch, she gets to train with someone as talented as Jessica Eye. In a short time with people up here, Ashley's game has improved so much. I finally started seeing confidence in her eyes. While she had the talent, I wasn't sure if I saw confidence. I mean, yes she was always confident she could win, but I don't know if she was confident enough to become a star. But when you train with someone like Jessica Eye, it's naturally going to improve your confidence.

So she took a fight with Angie Reinhardt. If you are unfamiliar with her, you should know, Angie has some real skills. This was going to be a tough test for Ashley. Ashley told me her game plan, and I was impressed that Ashley developed that game plan, because it was the exact game plan she would need in this fight. Every time I watched Ashley spar or roll, I saw her more and more confident and better each time. Also this would be Ashley's first real weight cut as she was fighting at 130LBS, lower than she had before. She did everything right and actually came in at 129LBS. Days leading up, there was no doubt in her mind she was going to win this fight. I think a big part of that confidence was that Jessica Eye and Pablo Castro agreed to corner her. Jessica is atop pro who Ashley respects and admires. Pablo is an amazing Jiu-Jitsu teacher and has cornered many talented fighters. A few days before the fight Pablo worked on some very specific stuff with her, and I was impressed that Ashley never took her eyes off Pablo. Everything he said, she soaked in.

So, its time for the fight. Ashley had her bleeding almost from the beginning. Soon, Ashley had her spraying blood on those of us at cage side. Ashley's stand up was great. She fought smart. She didn't let Reinhardt drag her into a brawl. She used her jab nicely and made each punch count. In round two it was just a beautiful thing to watch. She got it down and did the exact thing Pablo had shown her just day before. I couldn't help but smile because I had watched Pablo teach her that, and it was great to see Ashley do exactly what she was shown. Round three was more of the same. Ashley controlling the fight and doing what she wanted to do. When it was over, Ashley had won all three rounds.

So whats this hard work and determination thing I was talking about? Ashley has shown me, that no matter what road blocks were put in her way, no matter how hard things got, she did what she had to do to improve. She sucked it up and said "I am going to get better. I can be a talented fighter. I am gonna show people what I can do". All the progress I have made in my bodybuilding competing goals, makes me appreciate someone like Ashley, who had road blocks like me, and she knocked those road block out of the way. That makes Ashley not just a friend, but someone I admire. I am very proud and consider myself lucky to have Ashley as a friend. Because her friendship is good enough, but there is the benefit of having someone like her who wont let obstacles get in her way, and it inspires me to not let obstacles get in my way.

Last night, Ashley Hawkins put a lot of people on notice. Ashley is here to stay and is a top prospect. Ashley Hawkins is going to be beating a lot of people and winning titles. Simply put, Ashley Hawkins is going to keep being Ashley Hawkins.

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