Chase NP Olympic glory (BAL)

John Heuisler is a force, let’s be honest. He is a crazy consistent 5:30 tribemember that dominates the stairs and the workout with a quiet demeanor. But when you get him one on one, you are able to feel the passion he has for his family, this tribe, and this city. And don’t let his reserved front deter you; (We thought he didn’t like us or NP for a long time. We still aren’t sure at times…) John is one of the most dedicated core members we have and he will challenge you like you wouldn’t believe. John attended #NPSummit for the very first time and was one of the main refs at the NP Olympics extravangza. This is his story:

My little brother posted a picture from his bar in Philly of the viewing party for the latest episode of the reality show “Dating Naked” and I was reminded that I am way late in giving Syd a requested blog post from NP Summit 4.0.  If you forgot to set your DVR for episode 6 – “Lap Dances & Second Chances”, don’t worry, knowledge of the plot line is not essential to following the rest of this post.  Also no worries about spoilers for those of you who did set your DVRs as I did not watch the show.  Butt . . (pun intended). . one of the stars of said episode, Drew,  happens to be a family friend from our childhood and currently one of the more colorful members of the NP Philly Tribe.  A conversation that I had with Drew at Summit was one of many memorable experiences from Summit and captured some of the vibe around the first ever NP Olympics on Saturday night.

Drew was part of the country named “Grease” and they arrived to the NP Olympics decked out in togas.   He told me that as they were descending the stairs into the ballroom, another one of his team members remarked to him, “We’re 31 years old and we’re dressed in togas to attend a Pep Rally – what’s wrong with us?”  I told Drew nothing is wrong with that and it sounds like you’re doing something right with your life, mostly because I believed that and partly to reassure myself that there was nothing wrong with my being 41 years old and dressed like a floor worker at Foot Locker in preparation to referee a Twister Tournament between adults.  (Side note – if you have not recently looked at a Twister board, they are much smaller than I remember them being, probably because they are most commonly used by people much smaller than adults but I digress)

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The NP Olympics were a new addition to Summit and I’ll go ahead and declare them a successful one despite me lacking any authority to do so or having any reference point from previous Summit attendance to compare against.   I did have the privilege of an insider’s view of how they came to be and a role as one of the 12 officials charged with keeping the event as orderly and on timeline as could be expected when the participants are 400+ rowdy NPers.  My brother Chris was one of the de facto hosts for the event as he helped secure sponsorship for the party from Westin.  It was probably the first one of their budgets that had 1,000 Tall Boys as the biggest line item and also the first ever contract that was agreed to not by signature but by Chris and the tall boys who founded NP hugging it out.

There was a lot of effort that went into planning and staging the NP Olympics and that was in direct contrast to the amount of information that was provided to the event participants.  Essentially, everyone was told, “find 9 friends and register to compete as the country of your choosing.”  And here’s what I loved about the night that I think embodied one of the things that I love most about NP – everybody took those ambiguous instructions and went ALL IN.  Teams chose name like Fückyeahistan or Brogandia and showed up with uniforms, hand-made team flags, inflatable mascots, and National Anthems and then marched into the Ballroom with patriotism for their made up nations worthy of what’s on display during Opening Ceremonies for the actual Olympics.  It was Fantastic!

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And it was a ton of fun.  And every bit as competitive as you could make it.  Somehow people found a way to apply #raceverything to a contest that involved finding random objects in a kiddie pool ball pit (that’s a real thing now) while blindfolded.  The final competition was weighted the heaviest on the scorecard and it required each country to perform a :30 dance routine to their chosen National Anthem that showed what their country was all about.   Teams turned the ALL IN meter up another notch and the results were about as entertaining a 30 minutes as I can recall in some time.   It took us judges a little while to reach a consensus on the winner and I remember one of my favorites being the country Antarctica waddling out to this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OATi34PKNPw while dressed in matching penguin outfits.  In the end, Squatto Rico scored enough points to claim the Gold Medals at the inaugural NP Olympics and they could be seen proudly wearing them around the bars of Blue Mountain late into the night while randomly busting out sets of squats.

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I have probably exceeded my allotted word count but there is one more point I’d like to make about my experience at Summit 4.0.  There are a few places in my life where I go with some regularity and where I expect to hug everyone I see: my Mom’s house at Christmas time, alumni gatherings with my college rowing teammates, and my daughters’ room at bedtime among them.  I can now add NP Summit to that list.  I couldn’t tell you exactly how many people I met but every new introduction was done via hug and not handshake.   I was reminded of a great friend who once told me that research has shown that getting at least 7 hugs a day is beneficial to our health.  Fact. Look it up.  But I also realized in a way that I had not before then, that the hugs are just as important to what NP is about as is the just showing up, or the weatherproofness, or the racing everything.  Even if #hugs has not yet rated inclusion in the list of official NP hashtags. And I’m not sure that I ever get to my RDA of hugs in the amount of time allotted for them during Nick’s bounce each Wednesday at 5:30.  So I guess that I need to do a better job of giving them out before being told to do so.  And you should too. 

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To re-cap: Go to Summit.  Chase NP Olympic glory with reckless abandon. Give more hugs. 

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