Attorney at Law Magazine Phoenix spoke with Jake Armellani, Associate Contract Manager, Amazon Robotics, about his time playing rugby and wrestling at the University of Wisconsin- Parkside for the Athletes in Law 2020 issue.
AALM: Tell us about some of the awards and highlights you earned playing rugby or wrestling.
JA: I was a 3-time NCAA Academic All-American, a 3-time Letter Winner. I won Presidential Volunteer Service Award and was a NSCRO Rugby National Qualifier Finalist.
AALM: What lessons did you learn from rugby and wrestling that you apply to your practice today?
JA: The everyday grind. It is so important to persevere through the daily grind and to “fall in love with the process of being great.”
AALM: What are some of the most important lessons your coaches taught you?
JA: Be comfortable in uncomfortable situations; we would be encourage to take chances in practice, to put yourself in uncomfortable positions so that if you ever wound up in a bad spot in a match, you would know exactly what you needed to do in order to get out. Prepare, don’t panic.
AALM: Who is your favorite sports hero from the sport you played, and who is your legal idol?
JA: A wrestler I always looked up to was Helen Maroulis, USA’s first female Olympic champion — and she toppled a giant of the sport in doing so. A close runner-up is Steve Mocco, just one of the toughest, meanest guys out there.
I have had the good fortunate to have a few cousins who have been amazing legal role models and mentors to me — Erik Phelps, General Counsel Tempus; Hon. Ryan Rosauer, Eighth Judicial District in Kansas; Justen Phelps, Gibson Watson Marino LLC.
AALM: What are three reasons you liked being part of a team sport? What are three reasons you like being an attorney?
JA: These are likely the same three reasons: I love having the opportunity to push others to be their best while concurrently becoming better myself. I love learning — knowledge for the sake of knowledge. It is called the ‘practice’ of law for a reason: no matter how good you become, you can never master it, the target is constantly moving. How can you not love something as fluid as law? The devil is in the details; like drilling in wrestling practice, perfecting your legal craft is an art form. Different skills and perspectives (from either teammates or fellow attorneys) can depict a fuller picture. One simple adjustment could be the difference.
AALM:Do you think attitude was a factor in winning in a sport as much as it is in practicing law?
JA: Absolutely. Perspective is everything. You have to be strong mentally to see success at any level, or in any profession. What are you going to do when you get “punched in the mouth?”
AALM: How did competing at the NCAA level in athletics make you a better attorney?
JA: Mental toughness. Wrestling was tough, law school was tough, the law is tough. Both wrestling and the law require your best. If you give anything less, it will show.
Favorite Wrestling Movie: Vision Quest
Favorite Legal Movie: The Paper Chase
Favorite Wrestling Quote: “I would beat me yesterday but lose to myself tomorrow.” — Pat Lugo
Other Sports He Wanted to Play: I always wanted to play hockey; those guys are tough.
His Mantra: Be better than yesterday.