Average to Savage
Average to Savage

Episode · 10 months ago

Nick Mayhugh | Average to Savage EP144


This is the one hundred and forty-forth episode of the Average to Savage podcast featuring Paralympian gold medalist Nick Mayhugh. Paul Guarino talked with Nick Mayhugh discussing his soccer career to his track career, keeping condition a secret in college, and winning multiple medals at the 2020 Paralympic games.

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This podcast interview with Nick Mayhugh was originally recorded on September 21, 2021

...this is the average to Savage podcast with paul Guerrino. Everyone in anyone athletes celebs and much more. So if everybody I'm back for another episode of the average Savage podcast. Our special guest today is nick Mayhew nick how's it going? I'm doing well. How are you appreciate you coming on uh Let's just go back in time like how did you first get involved in like sports and soccer and things like that. Um I was really born into it you know my my brother is 5.5 years older than me. My dad played sports growing up so as soon as he had one son he got him into sports and then my brother picked up soccer was really good at it and um you know growing up I just wanted to be just like him and you know really just emulate him and wanted to be better than anything that he did. So I played soccer too and then you know played played soccer my whole life played basketball a little bit um snowboarded you know just try to be as as like as possible. Yeah yeah for sure now you were in the 2021 Paralympics. Uh what was the journey like to just like qualify for that? Um Is it like the same as like the olympics like explain something. Yeah so I mean it's the same exact thing is the olympics there's um I mean you have to go to us trials and then you have to hit their standard, there's the olympic standard. What I've shown you know anybody like you saw a. D. K. Metcalf go to the U. S. Travelers and try to qualify and hit that standard, you just admit it. So anyone if you're, if you're eligible um for the paralympic spirit, you're eligible for the olympics, it's all in the same. Um you just have to hit your standard, you get your standard and you get selected. So I had, you know, I was training for the last 18 to You know 20 months solo track and field 10 hours a day, six days a week, every single you know every single day I was at it and went to U. S. Child and I was actually my first legit track meet which which was the qualifying event to go to the island which was crazy. So um you know it was just it was a crazy experience has definitely been a roller coaster. It's definitely moved very very fast but you know I wouldn't want it any other way. Yeah definitely. I'll tell you how I discovered you, I think you know, it's probably from it was from Tiktok. So the new new age of social media. So uh so definitely like I mean I work with athletes all the time and I tell them like I was like you got everyone got down on Tiktok like all of them got so so just to show you that it's important that's how I knew about you because I wasn't then I probably wouldn't. There you go. That's funny. Uh but yeah, just going into the paralympics, like obviously we're in this weird still stage with the pandemic and stuff. So what was it like just to travel and, and then just like the arrangements and all the, all the viral videos, like the quote unquote like uh the beds and things like that. Like what was, what was just that like the environment? Yeah, I mean it was definitely just once in a lifetime. I mean, because that's the thing, it was pretty cool to be able to be, I mean this is being my first paralympic system first, like my first legit um you know that like this um I'm excited that it was the, it wasn't killed because it was the pandemic one because it was so different and I was actually interesting because I knew what the other villages were like, I know what the other athlete villages and the other experiences, you know the rumors and stories and all that. Um, but to be there for them and I was just excited and I'm glad I was in Tokyo because Tokyo is one of the most clean in Japan is just a clean, disciplined country and you know, there's no trash anywhere on the street, there's no, um everybody is doing their job and doing their job correctly and so when we got there is everything was flawless, you know, it was, it was actually really, really nice and then you go into all the um the funny stuff of the cardboard beds which really worked hard with, they were more like plastic cardboard. It wasn't just like doing the little cardboard boxes that we were sleeping on, but the mattresses were recycled...

...plastic. Um The beds were plastic cardboard and they were very very uncomfortable and uh but you know it was cool. We all I mean we stayed in our team usa building, we had our own game rooms and stuff, we had our own entertainment rooms and we all got to like I was it was cool to hang out with everybody to meet as many people as possible and then to be able to see the other athletes from other countries and see how they work and what they do and you know, it was just a it was a good experience of the wrong, but I'm definitely excited for fans to be back for like you back to normal in paris, I'm looking forward to it. Yeah, Yeah, for sure. Um What, which one was the first race you ran in? Like the first one was the 101 100. Yeah. All right. So, so when you, when you got there like like where you like you get there and stuff where you're like nervous. Um I wouldn't say I was nervous. I wasn't nervous to compete. I was nervous as soon as I would like it was the environment. Uh you know, to walk into, the only time I really felt nervous to be honest was opening ceremonies is when we walked in and, you know, there's nobody in the stands like, like there should be and I'm used to playing in front of fans anyway, you know, in college and with the national team for soccer and you know, there's so many fans just in general, anywhere we go. So, I mean, that's something that doesn't really affect me, but just walking into the Tokyo Stadium and no knowing and realizing, you know, the essence of why we were there and the meaning of it all and to walk out there with the flag and walk around with their called team USA and then, You know, to see everybody see everything and last when they kind of like, see how big the stadium actually was. I was like, damn. And then, you know, uh, going leading up to my 100, I was so prepared. I've done everything I could, you know, mentally and physically prepare myself. So, I mean, I walked onto that track and I visualized it so many times before that I just knew what I was going to do and I knew that it was nothing new. You know, it was just another rep. So I wasn't nervous going into the race, but I was before for sure, definitely. Yeah. So you won the gold and set a world record. So what does that mean to you? I mean, it's cool, you know, it hasn't really hit me yet, you know, even after everything that I did, you know? Um it's it's sort of, I think I sort of expected it. Um you know, I sat down with my coach before I left the States to come to Tokyo and we wrote down everything we were gonna we were gonna do. And he was like, all right, well, this is your first race, the 100 problem. And he was like, what time you gonna run? And I told him 10 9, He was like, so he was like, all right, so you want to break the world record around 10 9? And I was like, yeah. And then he was like, all right, in the final, what do you want to do with time? And I told him I wanted to run faster. I told him I wanted to break the world record again and went gold and we did that with every single rich. And So that was, it was sort of ingrained in my head that I was already going to do what I did and but to actually do it, you know, there's, there's a heightened, just amount of emotions. I'm sure you could see when I ran across the finish line. I'm screaming just staring at the clock 15 years before I do. It just, you know, I was just, it's just in that moment, you just kind of everything that you're playing that you want to do just goes out the window and you just act on pure emotion and it's it's incredible yeah, for sure and you just win one goal, you want three golds and a silver, like what has it been like, just like, you know, people reaching out like getting on interviews, like, like how's your life changed basically? Uh has really changed that much to be honest, I mean, you know, it definitely remember standing up there on the podium and I got really emotional for the first time I was on and then I got really emotional on my fourth medal and just because I was just thinking about um you know, all the last two years that I put into really doing all this and the amount of working time my brother and I put into this and you know, just wishing that he could have been there to see everything in person and to be able to really experience that with them. That's something we had worked towards for two years. And then you know, when I got back was really good to see him. Really good to see my family and I mean hasn't really, nothing really changed. I mean, I'm...

...definitely, you know, any anything other than like my instagram followers on social media following really, you know, my social media finding things up now, but I mean my everyday personal life nothing's really changed. People don't really speak to me differently or anything like that. Um I kind of stay away from people like that anyway, so I'm sure there are people like that trying to get in touch or trying to reach out and do some nice things now that they didn't used to do before all this, but I don't really pay that anymore. Yeah, for sure. I mean the dope thing too that I saw before the um paralympic started that the, I guess the us, whatever you want to call the, the sanction body, whatever they let everyone. So now that they're equal pay for the gold medal, so that I thought that was awesome. Yeah, that's and that's important too because this I mean it's pretty it's pretty cool to be a part of that just because it's the first year that they've ever done that, which is cool. But I mean it's just a huge step in the right direction for the paralympic studio. I'm excited. Hopefully. Hopefully there'll be a lot more things coming, especially going to paris because paris ambition in three years time we want to do it all over again. I'm excited. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I mean, probably obviously the other weird thing about the pandemic, you know, there It was labeled still has 2020 and we're in 2021. So it's just like, I just remember like Looking at Twitter and I'm like all right. Do I search like 2021 or like 2020 Olympics or like it was just crazy But uh yeah, could you explain to the people just like what uh like the disability you have in like the t like what T37 means in the in the track and field. Yeah, so I was born with cerebral palsy. I have a very mild form of it. What people don't know is that through the policy is a very wide range neurological disorder. Um So it can affect, you know, um your nerves, your motor function, your range of motion, everything physical um along one or two limbs three or four, and it just really depends on your specific case. Um But really just affects your motor function. Um your range of motion and the ability to use a limb or you know, digits and your finger or your feet, or your ankles just sort of joins him everything. It really just affects um everything sort of physical um that goes hand in hand with sport. Uh Me specifically. Um I grew up 14 years of my life, always knowing that there was something wrong. Um Not really acknowledging it because I was so athletic, so, you know, um I made everything looks so normal that no one really ever thought, you know, there was something necessarily medically wrong and but I always knew I always knew that there was something different between my left and my right side. Um And you know, it wasn't until I was 14 years old that I had a grand mal seizure before I went to high school and was, I woke up, I was laying in my bed, I had a grand mal seizure. My mom called 911, I was rushed to the hospital, they completely through both sides of my tongue and you know, at that moment I thought that, that was there for me. I had no idea I was a 14 year old kid, I had no idea what was going on. And that rushed to the hospital. They ran a bunch of tests and scans and found a dead spot on the right side of my brain. And if you look on like any of my merchandise just released their, on my instagram, anything, you'll see the MRI and it's just like a dead spots, just the size of a golf ball pretty much and it's just a, an inactive part of my brain and that's caused from a stroke that I had in utero from ST uh, that caused my cereal policy. So um, it's been, you know, a hell of a rod and you know, it's been pretty crazy, but I even, I wouldn't, you know, say that I'm an expert in CPI or through opposing what I know them, I'm still learning every day about stuff, you know, people reach out to me and, you know, give me information on it or asked me questions that I didn't really know or just something like that. Like I'm always learning about it. Um But within the Track and field specifically. Um we are the classes from 35 were considered t. 3 - 38. So there's 35 is considered the most severe case and then 38 is considered uh least severe. I'm classified as a T. 37 which would be a...

...textbook CP. I see you and be able to watch him um you know uh play sport in the medical room and they're doing the testing and be like okay let's get us through ballsy. It's very clear you can see the differences between his left and the right side and you know, to to my credit and some you know my family and my coaches, I've you know worked my entire life to try to hide that, you know, and so the untrained medical I you would never be able to tell that, you know, I may be a disabled athletes but you know, I've I've put in the work as appreciated sounds, I've practiced and tried to put in the word every single day to make it look at school as possible to you know to try to exceed expectations, which I think I've done a pretty good job of doing. Yeah yeah for sure and yeah you played division one soccer at Radford um And then you're also on the the U. S. National team. So what's it like being in a two sport athlete. Uh I mean it's it's humbling for sure. It's not as easy as I thought it was gonna be, you know, to go from playing international soccer and you know, being one of the best CP soccer players in the world to you know, pick up a sport I knew nothing about was definitely shocking. I thought, you know, I was like oh it's cool. Like track is you just run straight right? Like you just have to just get in the box and get out and run. It's not that bad. Uh huh. And you know, it really shocked my world real quick. You know, I've never felt as unathletic, as uncomfortable, you know, out of my element as I did when I was training for track and field, I had to completely re learned my running mechanics. I had to break it all down from square one and just like forget everything that I thought I knew and relearn everything and learn a lifetime of score in less than two years. And it was an insane idea. A lot of people, doctors and scientists that I work with, you know, coaches that I worked with her telling me I was too old. It's it's biologically impossible for you to relearn and re teacher your fibers to do that. You're you know, you're slow to which marathon athletes and soccer and you're trying to become a fast which sprint athlete, it's it's impossible. You're 25 years old. It's not you can't do that and you know, it's just a fuel to the fire and you know, be able to be here now doing what I did, I told myself in day when I was able to do it and you know, been fun. Yeah, for sure. So, so now that you want all these goals and stuff, so are you, are you going to solely focus on track? Are you still going to play soccer? I'm gonna go, I'm gonna play soccer, consume um you know, it's, I definitely think, you know, it's been, it's been a changing card. I think that track is going to be my main thing though. I mean, I'm so obsessed with it. It's, you know, like I would, I'll just sit on instagram for, for hours or sit on Youtube and watch videos, You know, I'll be in the airport or on the airplane just watching my videos back in, seeing things that I was doing, I did differently and thanks to things like mistakes that I made in races in Tokyo or before that and just watch, you know, you've seen um running into uh fred curly and uh, the grass and all the top sprinters in the, in the world, you know, just try to pick up on things that they do. So I'm obsessive, it's what I do all the time, you know, I'm always reading about it, always trying to critique myself and learn more and do something. Um, but you know, I definitely I'm definitely want to go back and play soccer, it's what I love is my first love. It's what I was put on this earth to do and uh you know, I'm definitely gonna go back and enjoy it, but we'll see, I mean if there's there's a conflict of interest, I might have to choose one of the other, we'll see, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. In 2019 you were the US soccer player of the year two. So what did that mean to you to be naming at that? I mean at that time that was that was a huge honor for me, especially to my teammates and that's the main thing that I had always said, you know, it was it was definitely cool for me to get that individual, you know, honor. But I mean, I wouldn't have been able to do that without my two, something like that team as a whole that year was so tough for us. We have been through a lot of adversity. A lot of a lot of messed up things have gone on and out...

...of our control. And so to be able to really cap it off with the bronze medal At the Pan Am Games in 2019 and you have to get home and he, you know, awarded that honor was super cool and at that time that was the biggest moment in my life, you know? Um so that was definitely, it felt good, but I knew that you know we weren't number one in the world, so it doesn't really matter, you know, I could be, you give me all the awards and you know that that's not really who I am, you know, I just want the team to be number one in the world, I want us to be the best. You know, I can I can be the best but it does mean nothing if my teammates the best. Yeah, yeah, definitely. And what advice would you give to a young athlete coming up? That's a loaded question, but I mean just to to I mean there's a lot that you know young athletes nowadays don't do that uh you know they kind of lose sight of it all with social media thing, what it is and trying to look cool and trying to look like you're doing a lot of things, it's just you know, just a simple and cliche that is just never forget why you started and to just always believe in yourself um along the way, you know, if if you can hold those two things close to you and you'll never lose, you know, and the the it's what you want to do what you do um you know like growing up, I always um I always knew, I love soccer, I always knew that I was good at it, but I was good at it because I loved it and I was, I wanted to get better at it every single day. I haven't had any word belief tattooed on my leg. And I was always, I've always had my own back. You know, I'd always believed in myself first before anybody else. I always believed myself, I knew that no matter what, no matter my disability, no matter my left side, and how weak my left foot was and how bad my left pass was, or you know, I couldn't cross the bone with my left to as well as I could not write and certain things like that. Like, no matter what, I always believe myself that I could be wearing them today and if you don't then nobody else will. You know, there's been a few times along the road that I've lost the love for it and, you know, it became a job, things that I just wanted to quit and give up as long as you remember why you started and, you know, break it all down to make it as simple as possible. It's just a game. You know, people, people turn it into all these things and turn it into full time jobs and all these things that take it so seriously. You just got to have fun with it and just already believe exactly if you don't, nobody else will. Yeah, definitely. Um, like did your coaches at, at your college know that you had that not until, um, so it's funny because I got recruited by everybody, um, without anybody knowing, uh, all throughout high school, I kept a secret my first two years I talked to for as a secret, um, in college and then, uh, when I was a junior at around for the Big South conference released the video on me about me being on the national team and my disability and everything like that and nobody on my team new and they actually reached out and they said, hey, we're gonna release this and the next couple days, is that okay with you? What's up? And I was like, no, just give me, give me like a week. I need to, I need to talk, I need to tell a couple of people something. And uh, so I sat down my entire, all my teammates and the entire coaching stuff down in the locker room and I said, Hey, like you're about to learn something about me that, uh, you know, nobody really knows and I need to, you know, I just need to balance with you guys because it's kind of shocked some of y'all. And I told them and a majority of them were supportive and there was something that I like, I like there's no way you're not to say, well there's nothing wrong with you, like and all these things and you know, my teammates, they were good and bad with my teammates, my coaches. I remember after I said that in the locker room, they took me up to the coaching office and my head coach and my two assistants and coaches sat down. They were like, why why didn't you you know, let us know what you mean. I understand why you didn't like your teammates know, why wouldn't you let us know? You know, like we recruited you and for the first two years of my college career, my freshman stalking your every single day after practice. Um Coach Butler Rally Butler would stay after practice with me and make me stay after and we would do extra drills, um...

...dribbling drills and whipping balls with my left and do shooting drills. We would do so many extra stuff after practice my left foot every single day just to try to make my left foot better, make it better and just get better and I never complained once. And you know, and that's just the type of athlete that I was. And he actually um he uh in in the office was like why why didn't you tell me? You know, if if I knew that I wouldn't have, you know, been so hard on you, I wouldn't have made you stay out there every single day. And I just sat back and I looked at him and said that's why right there. I said that look, that tone of voice, everything that's what I don't want, I don't want your sympathy. I don't want to be given the benefit of the doubt, I don't want that, Look, I don't want you to say those things I needed, I needed that, you know, I needed that actually training, I needed that extra work and you know, if you want me to be the best soccer player, I wanted the coach, I want to be the best athlete I can be, I needed that extra work, I need to be pushed like that and you know, they respected it, but you know, they were definitely hesitant to be like, well we can we can still do this or do whatever, but you know, I just don't want to be treated any different. I don't want to be looked down upon. I didn't want to be given anything because I was quote unquote, you know, consider disabled. You know, it's there is such a negative connotation with the word disability, it needs to change. And I just didn't want any of those things that could be related as negative towards it, you know? Um But yeah, and then after that it just kind of uh kind of got out of control and we just, you know, things have blown up since then, but I'll never forget that. Yeah, no. Yeah, for sure. No, I totally agree. As you probably don't know, I'm actually in a wheelchair. So I really yeah, I know all about what you're talking about. Like even like when I'm talking to people like I don't like if I'm trying to meet up with somebody or like had a job interview in the past, like I didn't tell them unless I had to and like, I would if I could actually get into the place and things like that. So like, I totally understand what you're saying. Uh because once you tell somebody then yeah, they might treat you different differently. Uh but yeah, but yeah, just uh going going, what's next with you? And then I know you you mentioned 20, Olympics, uh Paralympics. Um So but what else is next for you? Like in between those four years? Uh I definitely it's funny because a lot of people that's probably the main question. I get it. So what's next? And that's that's right. The first thing I said when I did an interview with NBC after more than 200, they said now, you know, I got to go home, what are you going to do? And I got home? And the first thing I did was I called up, my brother called on my coach and just had a little team meeting with us and I was like, look, what's next, What do you got to do? Right? And you know, I'm going to enjoy my time off for sure. Um And then get right back to work and whether that's, you know, training for soccer and getting back in the swing of things with soccer and football or um you know, getting back to track because we have, you know, have the World Cup for the national soccer team in in april and then we've got the world championships for track and field in Kobe japan in the summer, and then there's another soccer tournament in the fall. Um you know, but there's definitely there's a there's a little thing I got growing up, I'm trying to I'm trying to see if I can get into one more sport, I think I'm gonna try to do three and uh I'm going to keep it a secret as to see uh right now I'm going to keep it a secret just to keep people on their toes because I don't want to, you know, say something and then not be able to do it. Uh but there's something else I want to I want to try to uh they actually reached out and asked me if I was interested. Uh but I'm definitely gonna going to try to my my hand again this work, it's a winter sport, but we're going to see we're going to see if I'm able to do it. All right, that's no um uh So I know you said you're on vacation right now, where are you? Uh I mean uh I'm in Huntington beach California right now. Nice. Uh All right, so you ready for some fun questions. Mhm.

All right first. Oh yeah, first I want to give you other props to on your on your t shirts for not just coming out with t shirts with just your names on it, like because I don't like because I don't know if people realize that obviously, you know, I'm sure you know where all the N. I. L some people are just like throwing their name on a teacher. I mean why would somebody want that? I've been thinking about that. Design that everything. I mean, I have so many more things out better how to come out of it. I'm trying to do it all the right way. Um But yeah, I was I was thinking about it because I just came out with my logo a couple months ago and then I was like what could have been my first thing doing. And it was cool because I was trying to incorporate my M. R. I. And you know that it's so funny because so many people reach out and I'm like, why do you have, like what is that, like whose memory is that? What whose picture of the brain is that? And I'm like, oh, it's just some dude that I got off the internet, like I just I just went on google and they messed up brain, and then I put the first one that I saw like no, that's my brain. So it's funny, people are stupid. You know, I put a lot a lot of fun that, so thank you. I appreciate it. Yeah, for sure. So what do you, what do you like to do in your free time? Uh I'm a big video again guy. I'm a big Call of Duty. I got an Xbox. I just ordered a one of my friends makes Pcs for uh for athletes and for gaming organizations and stuff. So um I just hope I just talked to him actually a couple days ago and he's building me a custom pc, which I'm happy about. I'm a big video game guys just, I get so lost in it and it's just me and my friends, a majority of uh some of my closest friends are overseas, they play soccer internationally um in different countries and so it's video games is a really easy way for us to keep in touch and just kind of do us and um hang out throughout the day, but the time changing everything. But um you know, I love the beach. I'm a beach kid through and through. So I mean any time that I can be at the beach, I'm gonna be there. You know, video games, the beach just hanging out with my family and my friends. Um I'm I'm a real homebody. I don't like being around a lot of people um you know, I just like to do my own thing and I'm very comfortable in my own space. So if I allow you to enter my space, it's and then it really means something to me. So I don't know. I'm just a normal guy. I love, I love Oreos. I mean, that's pretty much it, man. Uh What's your, what's your favorite song right now? Um I would, I'm gonna either say hats off A Little Baby or Fair Trade on Drake's new album penetrated with him and Travis scott. Alright, yeah, I like those. Um And then last one. What's uh, what's uh, what's your favorite sheet meal? Average cheat meal. I got to think about that. That's it. Because that's the pain that the luxury of like me and my metabolism and my body, I'm able to eat. I mean, I have a strict diet when I'm training and doing things, but like I can, I can afford a couple of more cheaper. How about this? How about this? What was like the first meal that you got when you came back from Tokyo? I ate an entire, I had them. So when I got back from the airport had so many people, whether they were fans of family, um come to the airport and bring me a bunch of Oreos and I ate as many Oreos as possible. I didn't eat dinner. I literally did not eat dinner that night. I went back to the hotel, we got a room. Uh I got a room and I literally had a box Orioles and ate as many. Orioles as I could. That was pretty much pretty much my only cheat meal. All right. But I love, I mean that's the thing I love but I wouldn't even consider, I love sushi. I'm a big sushi guy but I wouldn't consider that a cheap now I can eat as film associated. I could um yeah, I mean or you know that's my cheat oreo. That's funny. Well nick, I appreciate you coming on and I could do with the listeners know where you can follow us on social media. Yeah, you can call me at nick maybe you and I C. K. And A Y. H. U. G. H. On all socialist ticktock instagram um twitter everything. It's...

...all the same. Um I've just made a public Snapchat for no reason so you can go and all that. But yeah, I mean I appreciate you for having me on and I appreciate everyone for listening and if you ever got any questions I'm just a normal guy, you know, you can DM message me and whatever. I'm always going to have a conversation just to educate and you know, just answer any questions of people that genuinely want to know more about me or my disability or disability and sports in general, you know, um I think that's that's the biggest piece to everything is that you just have to start the conversation of you know the paralympics or the disability in general and you know try to try to sway away from the negative connotation um with the word disability but I really appreciate human, thank you for having me on and if you have any anything you let me know. Yeah, I appreciate you too. And it's likewise and best of luck with 2024 Olympics and Paralympics. Sorry. And uh your journey uh all your other events and I'm looking forward to seeing what the third event I think is. I think I might know nothing. No money. Thank you man. I appreciate it. We'll be in touch. We'll have that. We'll have to have another wrap up after after paris too. That one. Okay.

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