I quit playing sports at age 11. I had competed in track and field as a child, and played volleyball and basketball in school. I remember the track meet in 7th grade that made me abolish sports. I was top ranked at my primary school for 100 meter and 400 meter sprints. I was the anchor in the 400 meter relay. At the first meet of the year I placed dead last in every event. I was devastated. My ego was damaged, I had let my team down, and I convinced myself that I would never get to the quality of athleticism as the girls I competed against. I quit.
In high school I was too intimidated to try out for any team, as I was insecure about my body and anxious in my own skin. I joined the local fitness club and prided myself on the fact that I was one of the only girls in my school who had even considered lifting weights. I continued on this path for the rest of my secondary and post-secondary years. But the competitor in me had died.
Then, I found CrossFit. I was terrified when I read the stories of female athletes who were varsity athletes, gymnasts, and had medaled in triathlons. I watched hours of videos of female CrossFitters (Heather Bergeron, Kris Clever, Miranda Oldroyd, Annie Thorisdottir, Annie Sakamoto) and idolized them. They were the kind of beautiful I never imagined I could be. They were strong, athletic, and confident. They had bodies that I could actually work towards (God knows how many years I worked on trying to achieve lean legs). These women weren’t impossibly thin, falsely beautiful, or hopelessly perfect. They were real. And I wanted to become them.
But, I’m not an athlete. I never really have been. Two years ago, Jake had to beg me to toss a football around on the beach – I was terrified it would hit me in the face. I had never even attempted a handstand. But, CrossFit has made me an athlete. Not just because I WOD. Or, because I know what my last three Fran times were. CrossFit, in its grassroots nature, proposes that athleticism is not an ornate gift, but an ascribed trait that can be achieved with work, heart, and the support of peers.
I am an athlete because I wake up every day knowing I will train, and train hard, with a goal in mind.
I am an athlete because I am constantly learning and practicing new skills.
I am an athlete because I no longer consider my time at the gym as exercise.
I am an athlete because my sport, CrossFit, has changed me and made me who I am today.
CrossFit was the sport I had always been looking for. This is a sport where athletes encourage each other, help each other, and feed off of each other. CrossFit is a sport where friendships and bonds can be built instantaneously over the shared experience of accomplishment or pain (or both). This is a sport that you don’t have to be an athlete to play. It makes you one. This is my sport.