I played football over at UC Davis, 2011-2015. I walked on freshman year, after initially playing rugby, and I was super slender, after running a bunch with rugby. I tried out for safety, and all my training was geared toward being quick and light and backpedaling. Then one of the fullbacks on the roster got injured, and they said, you’ll make the team if you give that a shot. I changed my training strategy quickly.
Slowly I noticed that every guy I had walked on with was no longer showing up to practices. I made the team and started my last three seasons, receiving All-America honors at fullback my junior and senior year. After that last season, my body was spent. I was ready to move on past football.
I didn’t miss it right away, but this feeling of intensity, this willingness to do anything on the day of the competition, that’s what got rekindled with my first D10.
How did you discover The D10?
I got a cold email about it. It was one of those emails where I starred it and thought, I’m going to come back to this. A little later, a woman I worked with, Kat Keegan, had gotten into it, and she said, “I don’t know if you’ve heard of this…”
I took a closer look and thought, Oh s--t, this is legit. It’s not only a great way to compete, but also to give back to a great cause. I don’t what else would be a stronger thing to dedicate your time to. I didn’t have much hesitation once I knew what The D10 was. Why wouldn't you do this? is how my brain's working.
Did the Game Day experience measure up to your expectations?
I did not know how intense it was going to be. When you’re a former varsity athlete, you don't get those game days anymore, and The D10 experience was intense in the best way. I'd been preparing with my teammates, as well as going to the open D10 community workouts.
When you've been working hard, when you've been sweating with other folks, there’s a bond. Then you get to the day of the competition, and now they’re on other teams, and it’s time to show what you’ve been working for.
It’s the same process that happens with any sport...you have all this build-up, all these days and hours of work that you've put in, and it’s all aimed at some sort of a pinnacle. The moment you enter the stadium for The D10, you see these other athletes walking up in their gear, ready to compete against you. Everyone’s brought it that day. Everyone’s ready to play. You can feel it in the atmosphere.
And behind all that, the better you do, the more's gonna be given back to the ultimate cause.
How does having one Game Day under your belt change your approach for 2018?
Going into it the first year, I had my immediate team, whom I was competing for, in a way. Although you're not making too many friends on Game Day because you’re there to compete...afterwards, it's like any other competition. You immediately have a huge community of people who just accomplished something together.
You’ve now got 200 people who are pushing you, 200 new people you know you’re competing against in Year Two. It becomes easier to wake up early when you’re tired, because now you know how great it feels to compete for something you care about.
The first year also teaches you how to train, and how much earlier you have to start. It’s specific training to compete in these ten events, not just to be in shape. Once I saw that, I said, Yeah--I’m gonna start leveling the playing field.
How would you describe The D10 community in the San Francisco Bay Area?
Anytime you’ve got a lot of former D1 athletes, you’re talking about some very competitive guys and gals. I would say, though, that they’re not looking to show just how crazy great they are. I grew up in the Bay, and there’s a different mindset out here.
When I get people interested in this, the giving back part is as important as the opportunity to get back in shape. People sometimes have concerns about the fundraising minimum, but you get them to the website and show them the resources The D10 makes available, and they see it’s really not that difficult to hit.
It just takes one extra touch.
Dalton Turay of SignalFX captains Team Back4More. Donate to his D10 2018 campaign here, and register to compete alongside him here.