“As long as I am healthy, I will continue to do CrossFit in some way, shape or form, for the rest of my life ...”
Although Whitney Gelin is no stranger to competitive sports, she knew very little about the CrossFit community before walking into College Hill CrossFit in January 2013.
“It was an important day for me,” Gelin said of her first day. “I had been lifting weights my whole life, but had never really gotten into CrossFit. It changed everything.”
Originally from Florida, Gelin was an all-state softball player and a two-time state champion in weightlifting during high school. She eventually moved to North Carolina to pursue a bachelor’s degree in both exercise and sports science, and psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gelin lettered in softball all four years despite carrying an intense academic load.
“I have always been involved in sports for as long as I can remember,” she said. “Other than soccer and softball, I was always big into lifting weights. I enjoyed doing it in high school, I enjoyed doing it in college.”
Gelin turned her passion for playing sports into a full-time career as the head coach of the women’s softball team at Greensboro College, in Greensboro, N.C. She said CrossFit has changed her as an athlete and helped bridge the gap between her rigorous weekly schedule and her love of competition.
“Everybody goes through the physical changes. Those are sometimes more obvious because you can see the difference in your body,” Gelin said. “But as a coach, it’s helped me learn to balance life a little bit better. I think CrossFit has given me a chance to balance what I do as a profession along with what I do as a hobby.”
Gelin had only been a member of College Hill CrossFit for a month-and-a-half when her coaches encouraged her to join the 2013 Open. She credited her coaches for helping her acquire the skills and feel confident enough to participate. Gelin had only competed in one other local competition before the Open, but decided to give it a shot.
Gelin not only gave it a shot, she ranked 44th overall in the region as the 2013 Open came to a close. She qualified as an individual competitor for the at the 2013 Mid Atlantic Regional.
“I have been blessed to have great people around me at College Hill CrossFit,” she said. “I fell into the right hands at the right time. I felt like, from the moment I started, they right away took me under their wing and tried to teach me everything they could.”
Tracy Shuford, owner of College Hill CrossFit and Gelin’s training partner, remembers the first time she met Gelin.
“I could tell from the very first workout that Whitney was legit,” Shuford said. “She just exudes this kind of athleticism and she has an amazing drive with great potential. She’s also insanely strong.”
Although she qualified as an individual, Gelin has always favored team competition and chose to join the College Hill CrossFit team at the regional.
“I knew I had the potential opportunity to qualify as an individual, but I sort of took that with a grain of salt because I had only been doing CrossFit for a couple of months,” Gelin said. “I definitely planned to do my best, but my goal was always if they send a team, then I would love to be a part of the team. I really wanted to help out the team, so qualifying as an individual was sort of icing on the cake.”
“I knew she would succeed regardless of the route she took to regionals because competition just really brings out the best in Whitney,” Shuford added. “If we were to tell her, ‘Hey, what if you tried out for the Olympic bobsled team,’ she’d do it, and work at it every day and make it happen.”
Gelin and Shuford train together on a regular basis, which Gelin finds valuable.
“Tracy has spent countless hours teaching me technical movements, as well as all the skills I need in order to develop as a better athlete,” she said. “It’s amazing to have that kind of support on a regular basis. She’s truly helped me become a better (CrossFit athlete).”
The College Hill CrossFit team placed eighth overall at the 2013 Mid Atlantic Regional in Landover, Md. If College Hill CrossFit sends another team to this year’s regional, Gelin hopes to be included on the roster.
“The whole regional experience was a learning lesson. I had the opportunity to watch the best in our region and I learned a lot from just observing,” she said. “But by far, my favorite memory was walking out with our team for the last workout knowing we had given it all we had.”
As a life-long athlete, Gelin acknowledges the importance of having goals as a benchmark for progress and success. She continually addresses her weaknesses and strives to do the best she can on a daily basis. Gelin uses her College Hill CrossFit community to gauge some of her success.
“I try my best not to compare myself. However, I have a lot of great people to compare myself with every day. Our box has an amazing group of athletes and I have learned a ton just from training with them,” she said. “When I look at myself as an athlete, I feel like I have strength on my side, but I intend to work on my gymnastic skills and increase my flexibility during this season.”
Gelin is eager to represent College Hill CrossFit during the 2014 Open, but realizes it is going to take a lot of hard work and dedication to make the dream of another regional competition a reality.
“Knowing the Open is just around the corner is a little scary, to be honest,” she admitted. “But my goal has always been to just help out the team and contribute what I can to our team.”
In addition to her supportive training environment, Gelin is certain that being involved in multiple sports has contributed to her overall success in CrossFit. Softball will always be her first love, but Gelin believes she has officially found her niche in the Sport of Fitness.
“As long as I am healthy, I will continue to do CrossFit in some way, shape or form, for the rest of my life,” she said. “I am incredibly thankful for what it’s done for me, as a person, both physically and mentally. I will always be a (CrossFit athlete).”