“IT” Female MMA Fighter Cameron Jurkowsky
From college lacrosse athlete to MMA. What “IT” is that I have grown to crave in Mixed Martial Arts and my personal journey to finding “IT”.
I grew up a military brat; was born in sunny San Diego; made the move to Northern Virginia; relocated to Honolulu, Hawaii, and ended up here in Annapolis, Maryland where I’ve been since 1994. I began playing lacrosse when I was in 6th grade with bows in my hair, and continued playing throughout my high school career, as well as playing on a year-round competitive team with some of my best friends—who remain best friends today.
“IT” Female MMA Fighter Cameron Jurkowsky
I was fortunate to get noticed and then recruited by some of the best, if not THE BEST, division 1 lacrosse schools in the nation. I chose to attend Penn State and quickly found out about the huge time commitment, the impressive level of play, and the competitiveness that comes a long with playing at a division 1 school. Practices are just the beginning. Don’t forget about lifting, conditioning, running and sprinting. On top of mandatory practices, there are ‘film sessions’ to gain constructive criticism of yourself and how to progress personally, as well as ‘film sessions’ on other teams to know what they’re bringing to the field on game day and what to expect.
And oh yeah, don’t forget class and schoolwork somewhere in there. No big deal. I wouldn’t trade playing lacrosse for anything in the world; I’ve become a more disciplined athlete and a better overall competitor; hence the reason for my entrance into the world of Muay Thai, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, and wrestling—better known today to many people as MMA.
I have been in the ‘real world’ for about three years. I am a certified personal trainer and hit a wall with my own personal workouts almost one year ago. I needed a goal—a target, an objective, an actual purpose for my workouts! I had been part of a competitive lacrosse team for over eight years of my life and I had decided that ‘it’ what was missing from my life. ‘It’ can be your teammates, or the tournaments in the summer time that lasted 48 hours, or maybe even the coaches watching you from the sidelines. “It” is the parents, friends and fans cheering you on, or when you receive your first college recruiting letter, or simply just for the passion for the sport and winning games! All of these things fall under ‘it’.
But what do I do since there is no professional lacrosse for women and the closest team that I could play on only practices once a week?! I dislike running; that knocks out marathons (no pun intended!). I don’t like swimming; I usually tend to sink. Bike riding–eh, I don’t think I ever graduated to two wheels instead of four. I’m no Serena or Venus, and I surely don’t have patience or a rubber body for yoga.
I got talked into hitting some mitts at work one day with someone who is now one of my best buddies in the world and also happens to be a former k1 kickboxer. After a couple weeks of getting the basics down, I pursued it a little further and decided to join Ivey League Mixed Martial Arts in Severna Park, Maryland. There, I do everything from ju-jitsu rolling, to muay thai sparring, and even wrestling.
So training two to three times a week, for about an hour each time, slowly turned into two hours each day, which snowballed into three days a week for about three hours each day; one of those hours included running/lifting weights.
As I started to enjoy it more and more and actually get the ‘hang’ of it, I decided I wanted to see what sort of competitions were out there for me. I approached my coach, and Danny’s response was, “Well, if you work hard enough, I have no problem putting you in a Muay Thai fight in November.” Boom, that’s all I needed. It was probably September at this point. I had a couple months of basic knowledge under my belt, now its time to kick it up a notch. I started training four to five times a week, two to three hours a day. Every practice I learned something new. I started doing crazy intense explosive power workouts at the gym that I work at and people are blown away! 1000 repetition tests. Muscular Endurance workouts. Plyometrics. Mitt Work. It’s all now part of my day-to-day training.
November rolls around—and I win. Like I tell all my clients—hard work always pays off. It was relief, happiness, and a big weight lifted off my shoulders all rolled up into one emotion. My first real fight was over. But what’s up next is always on my mind.
Since then I have had several competitions; both in the cage and on the mats. All I have done extremely well in. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t want to work hard for sure!
I now train five hours a day because I love “it”. “It” has now become pushing my body until it shakes because my opponents aren’t. “It” is now seeing my coaches and teammates every night four to five times a week. Part of “it” has me doing 200 reps of a shoulder press in one workout because I know ‘it’s’ going to help my hands stay by my face when I’m completely fatigued and in the cage! Running five days a week with hand weights because “it” is necessary for my stamina and endurance. Hitting mitts with Jason two to three times a week because “it” isn’t easy to learn new strikes on your own. I take Sunday’s off because “it” is necessary for my body to recover from a long week.
MMA and Ivey League have become a huge part of my life in the past 10 months. I’ve found something that not a whole lot of people understand, but I do know that from everything I learn, whether it be in the weight room, watching fights on TV, rolling on the mat, or in the cage and ring, I am going to take every little tidbit of information… and run with “it.”
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- “IT” Female MMA Fighter Cameron Jurkowsky