Tommy Wolcott doesn’t describe himself as an athlete — he never could settle on a sport to his liking.
“He tried T-Ball, tried basketball and then did lacrosse for two seasons,” Tommy’s father Chris says. “Nothing ever hit his fancy.”
But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been athletic. There was gymnastics when he was quite young, and then Parkour and even a stint ziplining among trees in Harper’s Ferry, which were more to Tommy’s liking, but still didn’t quite hold his interest.
“My favorite sports really were Parkour or gymnastics or tree climbing. They were more based on individual progress”, Tommy explains.
But as he grew older, Tommy came to recognize there was something else going on. Currently a freshman at Tuscarora High School, he has lagged behind his peers in growing taller, making competitive pursuits more of a challenge. Not just physically, but mentally. He came to recognize his own crisis of confidence, and the need to cultivate that inner strength.
“I wanted to do something more to help build up my confidence in myself and what I could do,” he says.
Enter Player’s Fitness and Performance, in Frederick. The gym wasn’t an entirely new concept to Tommy, as his older brother Nicky had trained there in pursuit of his own goal of playing collegiate level soccer, but would a facility focused on sharpening competitive athletes be able to help Tommy, who didn’t have any sports goals in mind?
“I wasn’t too sure how to go about it myself,” says PFP Coach Travis Bewley. “But once he got in, I would say he very much bought into the athlete mentality of pushing himself.”
PFP has always based its approach on a philosophy of developing the whole athlete, from the inside out, Bewley says, building strength or agility hand-in-hand with focus, grit and character. So, while the specific exercises in Tommy’s program would be different than a soccer player or a pole vaulter, the overall arc and results could be the same.
“I think you see progress in the gym over time that trickle over into other areas of life and that’s why so many successful people do it,” Bewley says. “It fosters that work ethic that does carry over, the confidence that does carry over.”
It helped that Tommy felt comfortable immediately.
“I went in 15 months ago and it was a very nice environment,” he says. “I loved the coaches and everyone there was just so nice.”
With Tommy not having a lot of formal athletic training, Bewley says a lot of the programming focused on building core strength and cultivating efficiency and stability of movement. The PFP team immediately recognized Tommy’s latent potential.
“The first day he came in, even not being an athlete, he did 50 push-ups,” Bewley says “He’s a strong kid, he’s just a small kid.”
“I like doing push-ups,” Tommy adds. “I am really good to doing harder push-ups rather than more push-ups. That’s how I like to work.”
Bewley got Tommy doing push-ups with his hands on rings, and then on medicine balls, and then with each hand and both feet balanced on four individual medicine balls, a feat few other athletes at PFP can match.
“People see him do it and they are like, oh my gosh, look at Tommy! It’s incredibly demanding,” Bewley says. “The confidence boost he gets from that? These big lacrosse kids come in and they can’t do it. These big football kids come in and they can’t do it.”
And the consistent commitment and attention to detail necessary to achieve a feat like that has also earned Tommy another confidence boosting recognition: Being named PFP’s Athlete of the Month for March.
“It’s amazing being Athlete of the Month and I am glad they chose me,” he says. “If you had shown me 15 months ago, I never would have thought I would have come this far.”
And that growth in self-confidence really has spilled over into other areas of Tommy’s life, such as his debut performance with the high school robotics team.
“In January they got the instructions on the type of robot they are supposed to build, and several people came up with a plan. All of their ideas failed, but Tommy’s passed — They are actually using it on the robot,” Chris said. “So as a freshman, here he is coming on to a solid team that’s gone to nationals several times and he had the confidence to say, ‘hey, I’ve got an idea.’ He’s stepping forward.”
And stepping up. In the past year Tommy has taken up hiking, tackling Mt. Rainier with his family last year, and plans to accompany them to the Swiss Alps this summer. He’s considering becoming an astrophysicist after college.
“I don’t know what that is other than watching Big Bang Theory and all that,” Chris says, “but he has aspirations for doing big things and he’s not one bit scared about it.”
“He’s going to be the next Elon Musk,” Bewley adds.
But for now, with four years of high school ahead of him, Tommy’s taking things one step at a time and focusing on growing, day by day, into a better version of himself.
“I want to get my confidence and my self-esteem to where I can be happy about myself and make great improvements in my strength and health,” he says.
That’s Tommy Wolcott’s why. What’s your why?