At the start of the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games Open, Champlain Valley CrossFit had been operating for a mere five months. Located in Vermont — where the CrossFit community was virtually nonexistent at the time — Champlain Valley qualified a team for the North East Regional thanks to the performances of Trevor James and Kelly Steadman in the Open.
James and Steadman decided to compete as individuals, and with a roster of only 10 athletes altogether, the team had to bow out of competition.
This year, it was a different story.
“Now we have around 150 members and we had a little more interest in the Open with 30 or so people competing,” says affiliate owner and head coach Jade Jenny. “I had a little more to draw from in terms of putting the team together.”
Jenny looked at the Open results to choose the male members of the team. For the females, he chose athletes who showed the best capacity to compete at the Regional level.
Problems arose when the Regional Workouts were announced, and two of the female athletes on the team were unable to snatch 105 pounds.
Both athletes were unable to get under the bar, which prompted Jenny to introduce the split snatch. That adjustment, coupled with James’ impeccable technique and Del Randall’s raw power, earned the team second place in the Snatch Ladder Event at this year’s Regional.
“Jade may be in his mid-20s, but he leads his CrossFit community like a veteran, never showing any doubt of himself or any athlete,” Steadman says. “He has shown me the importance and benefit of strategy going into a WOD. My old plan of winging it doesn't cut it anymore.”
Handstand push-ups were another issue for the team. Only one female athlete, Danielle Horan, was capable of performing the movement effectively. During Event 1 at the Regional, a team Diane, Courtney Shegos performed one handstand push-up and Horan was able to do 19 of them unbroken, which made up for the deficiency on the team.
A few days after the Regional, the team lost Shegos to an out-of-town job.
“It’s sad because Courtney earned her spot on the team, but we get Kelly, which probably makes us an even stronger team than we were at Regional,” Jenny says.
Steadman, who finished fourth at the Regional, says she is looking forward to competing at the Games with the Champlain Valley CrossFit Team, who finished third at the Regional.
“I have never been more excited for a competition in my life as I am for the Games in a few weeks,” she says. “I look forward to being a member of [the] team.”
The Champlain Valley team follows the programming of Outlaw CrossFit’s Rudy Nielsen. Jenny tried the programming himself for a cycle before introducing it to the team and the rest of his affiliate members.
“Up until a month ago, I was the only one coaching at the gym,” Jenny says. “I read a lot of blogs and I looked at Outlaw on and off. I really liked all the different stuff, but, in reality, I went with it so I didn’t have to take the time to write the programming.”
In preparation for the Games, the team is training five days a week, with all six team members training together for three of those days.
“We've changed our training schedule a bit from the norm — partially for the Games — but mainly to allow everyone to get together more often,” Jenny says. “It is important that we all know where each team member breaks down and where they are strong.”
Team members are now taking advantage of Nielsen’s competition programming, but are not focusing on anything specific.
“The team seemed to get zero attention so far. We don't really have any pressure on us,” Jenny says. “We are looking to go out, have fun and throw down.”