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Thread: How Olympic-hopeful girlfriend inspires Bengals pass-rusher

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    How Olympic-hopeful girlfriend inspires Bengals pass-rusher

    How Olympic-hopeful girlfriend inspires Bengals pass-rusher

    3:07 PM ET

    • Katherine TerrellESPN Staff Writer

    CINCINNATI -- When Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson first laid eyes on Rachel Dincoff at an Auburn Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting five years ago, he turned to teammate Peyton Barber and couldn’t stop talking about the pretty girl across the room.

    He had no idea that, on the other side, she was nudging her friend and calling “dibs” on the cute freshman football player who had just walked in the door.

    Nor did any of them know how far they would come in the years since.

    Barber, Lawson’s best friend since high school, is now a running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lawson is coming off a rookie season in which he recorded 8.5 sacks, and Dincoff is in New Mexico training for a chance to get to the 2020 Olympics as a discus thrower. As of her last meet in May, she is ranked fourth in the country and 23rd in the world with a throw of 200 feet, 8 inches. She has worked long and hard to hit the 200-foot mark.

    But it hasn’t come easy, especially as a couple for the two, who currently live more than 1,000 miles apart after Dincoff moved West last year to follow her coach and trainer. She also works a full-time job at Dick's Sporting Goods as part of the company's partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee to help pave the way for athletes to make Team USA. She has considered taking another job coaching in the spring to help pay for her expenses.

    “I was just so jealous because Carl would call me and say, 'Oh, I’m doing my cryo treatment or massage therapy and I’ll call you back.' I was like, ‘OK, I’ll call you after I mop the floors at work,’” she joked. "I was like, 'I’m so jealous you get all this stuff.' Granted he pays for the massage therapy and all that stuff.”

    The journey toward reaching their athletic goals is markedly different. While they have a mutual passion and dedication for their sports, their training experiences are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Dincoff’s sport gets little attention outside of Olympic years, and throwers get even less.

    “Someone might be third in the nation (in a track and field event) and they’re barely scraping by and have two jobs as well as trying to train,” she said.

    “It’s tough to be a completely full professional athlete in track and field because there’s just not enough financial support, unless you’re top in the world. It’s a little different, but it’s fun. It keeps it exciting.”

    Dincoff won't say it’s easy, especially when the pair sometimes go a month or two without seeing each other. But they make it work due to their mutual understanding that they’re finally getting to where they want to be in their careers. That takes precedence over everything else for now.

    "We're in no rush to get married or have kids. We've had these dreams longer than we've known each other," she said. "These are our priorities. We've got to make these happen so we feel satisfied inside. I think our relationship ... we just kind of complement each other. We understand each other and each other's situations.

    "It works out to be a really healthy situation. We've been very blessed to be able to make this work and not feel like we're losing each other."
    Somehow those experiences complement each other in training, too. They’re able to be each other’s eyes and ears when their schedules allow them to be in the gym together.

    Lawson trained at XPE Sports in Boca Raton, Florida, this offseason, and Dincoff was able to help him refine his movements off the line of scrimmage, which has been one of his priorities this spring.

    "I kind of cut out the long-distance type runs and stuff like that," he said. "I tried -- specifically for football -- change of direction, explosion and short-area quickness because you don’t really need that (other) stuff for football. You need a little bit of it, but I cut a lot of it out. Now I feel like I’m a better athlete and more powerful and quicker and bigger."

    Dincoff said she would simulate snapping the ball and watch how he came out of his stance, using her experience of watching sprinters come out of the blocks to give him a different perspective.

    “Sometimes I'm kind of his eyes to make sure, ‘Is he stepping far enough, is he looking like his power is going in the right direction?’" she said. “Just kind of an extra set of eyes because I kind of understand a little of what he needs to accomplish, especially at the first start.”

    Sometimes they lift weights together as well, even though they both have specific training programs. When Lawson visits, he occasionally acts as her spotter. Dincoff didn’t know if any of her lifts could surpass his, but said she might best him in weight in some of the specific lifts she did more than him.

    “We might be able to be kind of close in some of our Olympic lifting, because I don’t know how much of that he does. We’ll have to test that out,” she said. “He would probably hate that though. He doesn’t want to give me bragging rights so he’d probably find a way to beat me in some way. Even if it’s ugly, he’d find some way to make it happen.”

    Dincoff said they are both goofballs outside of their sports, but the competitive nature that got them this far can’t be turned off. That applies to everything from video games to playful fighting.

    “Even when we’re at restaurants we’ll play this little game and we get really competitive while we wait for our food,” she said, laughing. “We’ve
    wrestled before and I’ve kind of pinned him, maybe once. ... There was one time, years ago, but it was my glory moment and I’ll never forget it.”

    Perhaps that competitive fire is one of the reasons Lawson has gotten himself to this point. Dincoff sees it all the time when they’re together. While
    she prefers to come home and relax to get away from the mental grind of training, Lawson never stops. He’ll come home and turn on film or turn on
    Madden to play more "football."

    "He'll come home ... and he'll play his own character and yell at himself," she said.

    Dincoff described Lawson as the hardest working person she knows. With an injury history that probably caused him to fall to the fourth round of the
    NFL draft last year, he’s constantly trying to find some way to better recovery, whether that’s massage therapy, cryotherapy or getting in the float

    “Everything is so consumed around football, and that's how I know he's going to be great,” she said. “Because he loves it, and he's doing everything he
    can to be the best he can be at it. I think it's awesome."

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    The couple’s pride and admiration carries them through the hectic part of the NFL season. Although seeing each other much on a game day is
    practically impossible, Dincoff will fly to Cincinnati during the week when she can. While he goes to practice, she goes to the gym or finds another way
    to train. She even has run sprints in his parking garage.

    Nothing will stand in the way of reaching their dreams. Lawson was a five-star recruit who was among the best at his position as he came out of high
    school. But he thinks he’s just beginning to realize his potential.

    "I feel like I can be ridiculously good," Lawson said. "It’s just being able to be available, and that’s the thing that’s held me back my entire career
    because I’m constantly getting better. Each and every day I get better because I’m constantly looking at film, constantly in the weight room, constantly
    stretching. I’m always evolving. The main thing is just being able to stay healthy. I can take my game to heights nobody thinks I can take it."

    Dincoff, on the other hand, was never the biggest or strongest in her class, but she knew even as a young high school athlete that the ultimate goal was
    the Olympics. That has kept her driven long after many of her peers stopped.

    “For some reason, I've always had this burning desire to be good at athletics," she said. "I never really counted myself out. I never was the best in the
    nation or anything, but I was always that girl that had potential."

    Now, with two years to go until the Olympics, it's more than a dream. It's well within reach.

    "I've just always thought I could do it. I just needed to get in the right place," she said. "And now it's like, 'I'm actually getting really good. I could do
    this.' This actually really, really might happen."

    A backup plan was never even considered by either Lawson or Dincoff. They plan to reach their respective goals together and cheer each other on
    along the way.

    “This what we love to do," she said. "I don’t have passion for a backup plan. I don’t know what I would get into. I think I would be kind of miserable.
    This is what I love. It’s my plan A, B and C. If I need to figure out something else, I’ll do it.

    "We both are very committed in this because, I think for both of us, it’s been our dream since we were little. So it’s like, ‘OK, we’re going to make this
    happen and see where it takes us.'”

  2. needs a picture...

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Enon Bengal View Post
    needs a picture...

  4. #4
    I liked the bit about him training at XPE Sports. How he cut out the long distance work and focused on short area explosive drills.

    By all accounts it's working.


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