Novotny dedicates time to lifting weights, cutting body fat
Mark Novotny was once a promising athlete with something to prove.
A college athletic career was tough to let go, but the Grand Junction 21-year-old has found another avenue to prove himself in a competitive realm.
The former Grand Junction High School standout athlete is now a body builder.
“I’ve always liked to lift,” Novotny said. “When I was done with sports, I could actually gain weight. Before, I was going from one sport to the next and was lifting to maintain rather than put on weight.”
Novotny is competing in the Axis Labs Colorado Natural Open on Oct. 24 at the Colorado Heights University Theater in Denver. It is his first body building competition.
“My brother (Aaron) has done three different body building competitions,” he said. “That’s what got me interested in it.”
Novotny, who weighs 199 pounds and has 7 percent body fat, is entering in the men’s open lightweight, novice and Drug Free for Life middleweight divisions. Contestants in the Drug Free for Life must take a polygraph test to determine if the contestant is truly drug-free.
Blood and urine tests are only effective if the drug is still in the system, and Novotny is more interested in proving he’s never taken any performance-enhancing drugs.
“I want to do it natural for one, because it is my best chance for winning, and two, I want to put it back on everyone else accusing me of using steroids since I was a freshman in high school that everything I’ve ever done is entirely me.”
Novotny, who believes there are some steroid users in Grand Junction, trains up to 20 hours a week.
“My whole thing why it is a struggle for me is I want to win,” he said. “I want to win the novice, the Drug Free for Life not only in my weight class, but if I can take the overall, even better. I don’t get in things just for the sake of competing. I push myself to the limit, that’s why I did well in sports and school.
“Everyone’s like, ‘Don’t judge yourself too hard, don’t be too critical.’ If I want to win, I have to be. I’m not going to take first place by not critiquing myself.”
Novotny is very familiar with winning.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been on a losing team. I don’t know how to lose,” he said. “What drives me is a fear of losing. I don’t know how to deal with it.”
He was a key player on the 2005 Grand Junction High School state champion baseball team, hitting a grand slam to lift the Tigers to a 7-3 victory over the storied Cherry Creek program.
He was a starter on the football team the next fall that made it to the state championship game without a loss.
Novotny was having a stellar football season, catching the attention of Division I programs.
He was offered a scholarship to play football at CSU after the coaches saw him run the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds.
He was going to attend a CSU game and sign a letter of intent when he tore two ligaments in his left knee the previous night in the Tigers’ win over Fruita Monument.
After CSU learned of his injury, his scholarship offer was taken away, Novotny said.
The four-time Academic All-State football and baseball player ended up taking CSU’s “preferred walk-on” offer and was told he could earn a scholarship if he played well his first year.
Novotny, though, tore the hamstring in his right leg during fall camp in 2006.
“I knew if I didn’t get a scholarship after the first year, I was out of there,” he said. “They told me when I tore my hamstring that wasn’t possible (to get scholarship money).”
Novotny left CSU after the fall semester and enrolled at Mesa State. He joined the baseball team and redshirted that spring as he tried to get healthy.
“I came back here, was going to play football and baseball, but my knee was hurt, my hamstring and I broke a vertebrae in my back in high school.
“It was too much. I was spending more time in the training room than on the practice field. It just wasn’t worth it. I got a little burned out trying to do football and baseball.”
Novotny isn’t sure when the L5 vertebra in his back snapped, but realized something was wrong during his junior year of baseball.
“When the doctors found out what was wrong, they wanted to pull me,” he said. “I said, ‘No.’
There was nothing they could do to fix it anyway. It’s painful, but it’s one of those things you deal with.”
That’s when Novotny opted to turn his focus on school, putting all the hopes and promises of an athletic career behind him.
Despite the halting end to his athletic career, Novotny’s learned things happen that are out of his control and that you learn to accept them.
“It makes you think about a lot of things,” he said. “When things come, you’ve got to roll with it. You can’t look back at ‘what if.’
“That’s life. Football, baseball didn’t work out for me. I have my education to rely on. I’ve always loved lifting (weights). Now, it’s to another level. It’s taken the place of (team sports) for me.
“You’ve got to have other passions in life. You can have something dominate your life, but when things change, you can’t feel sorry for yourself and let it dictate your life.”