Five times. But not a sixth.
There will no doubt be white shorts at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games, but they won’t be on Stacie Tovar.
Things started to go sideways for Tovar on Friday as she struggled with the snatch in Event 1. Moments later, a botched handstand walk in Event 2 landed her at just 35 feet—a tie for 23rd place. She made a strong recovery, though, taking first in Event 3.
Tovar’s Day 2 at the North Central Regional brought more disappointment with an emotional 10th-place finish in Event 5.
When I was 7 years old, I figured out Santa Claus wasn’t real. Then I made the logical connection to the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.
It got worse. In 2013, the unthinkable happened. We found out it’s possible for our heroes—like Chris Spealler—to not qualify for the CrossFit Games. It’s right up there with realizing your dad is a mortal human being.
And now. Stacie Tovar.
Heading into Sunday, a lot had to go right for Tovar—and a lot wrong for the athletes ahead of her on the Leaderboard—in order for Tovar to get in.
After Event 5 on Saturday, Tovar was visibly shaken. It was a sobering scene from the North Central. On Sunday, she appeared smiling, poised and clad in her infamous all-white spandex shorts for Event 6. And her side swoop was back. She made an inspiring, emotional rally rampaging through the 50-reps-of-everything chipper. In fact, so far, she’s the only woman to get back on the rower. But it just wasn’t meant to be. Fucking Easter Bunny.
In an interview immediately after Event 6, a shaken but positive Tovar said: “It’s an honor to compete.” Let that sink in for a moment.
Then in Event 7 she ended her season grinning widely as she hopped onto the finish mat.
This is why the CrossFit world loves Stacie Tovar: her effort, attitude and character. Not the hair or the booty shorts, but the woman. It was a long shot for her to qualify on Day 3, but she put her shoulder back into it simply because she could. We can all identify with that.
“Shit happens,” Tovar said before Event 7. She’s real.
Regarded as a down to earth and humble athlete in the community, Tovar regularly engages with fans in person and on social media, embracing the public and her trademarks with hashtags like “#BootyIsStrength” and “#SwoopThereItIs” on Twitter.
After the 2013 Games final Tovar, visibly in pain, stood in the soccer stadium at the Stub Hub Center and signed autographs for fans until there was no one was left.
This year, she’ll be attending as a spectator. The delegation from North Central will have fresh faces Alexandra LaChance and Kelley Jackson, along with veteran Elisabeth Akinwale.
As disappointing as it is for fans to not have a beloved athlete of Tovar’s athletic prowess headed to Carson, California, an important lesson was learned.
I don’t love CrossFit athletes like Stacie Tovar because of their performances; I can scarcely recall her placing in events of years past. I remember their character and how they made us feel. Tovar is a human being with an exceptional attitude that complements her athletic gifts. That’s why she isn’t going anywhere.
There will always be Games without our favorite athletes. New athletes will emerge. The toughest will be back. Tovar is one of them.
In this sport character matters as much as ability. Stacie Tovar has both. We haven’t seen the last pair of white booty shorts out of Omaha, Nebraska. Hair will be coiffed into a side swoop in CrossFit competitions yet to come.
And we’ll be waiting.