"Competing as an individual last year was stressful, and I felt like I was alone on an island," Katie Crowe says. "(Competing on my team) has given me a new sense of community."
The 2013 SoCal Regional is days away, and the team rosters are solidified. A large number of high-ranked individual athletes have made a difficult decision in the last few weeks — they’ve elected to forgo their individual invitation, and will instead compete on the Regional stage as a member of a team.
Katie Crowe finished the Open in 15th place on the SoCal Leaderboard. She competed as an individual at last year’s SoCal Regional.
“Competing as an individual last year was stressful, and I felt like I was alone on an island,” Crowe says. “But I gained a lot of confidence coming out last year, and had so much fun.”
Crowe was ready to go individual again this year until her coaches, Daniel and Mike Tromello from Precision CrossFit, suggested she go team. With a busier personal life this year, she realized that “the other athletes we were developing were at a great place to go to the Games,” and she joined the team’s roster.
“It has given me a new sense of community,” she says of her decision.
“It is such a great atmosphere (working out with the team),” Crowe says. “There is always someone there to push you and pick you up when you cannot go any harder.”
Maddy Curley of Brick CrossFit is no stranger to team competition. At the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games, Curley and her teammates made it to the final day of competition.
“Being there was so cool. Our team had no idea how strong we were and we made it to the last day where the slate was wiped clean, which was so great,” Curley says. “Each day was a battle. It’s crazy how hard you end up pushing not to let others down!”
In 2012, Curley’s experience was slightly different. She qualified as an individual for the SoCal Regional, and finished in seventh place.
“I got a coach after the (2011) Games, then got burned out (for the 2012 season), and wanted to go back to acting. I told my coach I wanted to compete on a team again and all of a sudden, I realized I could love CrossFit again,” she says.
“It’s just so much more fun,” Curley adds. “With such strong girls in SoCal, there are about five top spots already taken. Unless every event is a handstand walk for distance, I probably won't qualify as an individual, and that’s OK!”
Coming in at 12th place regionally in the Open this year is Elyse Persico. The 22-year-old former gymnast has two seasons of CrossFit Games experience on a team. In 2011 and 2012, she went to the Games with CrossFit Gahanna of the Central East Region. This year, her decision to go team with her new box, CrossFit Kinnick, was an easy one.
“This year, I came in saying ‘I want to go team,’” Persico says. “I am in vet school now and I don’t have the time … time wise and stress wise, I couldn’t go individual.”
Team Kinnick has been vigorously training together, but Persico says it can be challenging.
“We have been training as a team, but it is hard with our schedules to coordinate the times, sometimes there are only half of us there,” she says. “But it is a lot more fun for me on a team. I have more fun seeing myself succeed in a group than succeed individually. I would rather do it for other people who are training with me. You want to do well because they do well.”
Calvin Davis, owner of CDR Redlands, finished the Open in eighth place in SoCal. He too has a history competing on a team.
“In 2011, we went to Regionals and placed 10th with the random six best athletes we had from the box,” Davis says. “After that experience, I realized that we could cultivate a strong team.”
He and his team went back to Regionals last year, and this time, punched a card to the CrossFit Games.
“From Regionals on, everyone on the team was hanging by a thread,” Davis says. “Five out of the six had injuries, and we definitely had chinks in the armor. We finished in 24th at the Games, but I was far from satisfied.”
After about a month, the team regrouped and refocused.
“We have the same team as last year,” he says. “We have the experience of being at the Games and we know how to strategize accordingly.”
Davis’ choice to go team again this year was influenced by personal reasons.
“Last season, I didn’t feel like I treated my teammates well,” he says. “I would yell at them and get frustrated. This year is redemption for me. I am trying to lead with love and respect. Our box is super tight … Our Regionals team has my wife on it, as well as a couple of brothers. The box gets super pumped to see us compete, and I know if I didn’t compete on the team, our team would have less chance of succeeding, which would have been bad for the box.”
Unlike Davis, who has plenty of team experience, Matt Lodin, from Pacific Beach CrossFit has primarily trained and competed as an individual. In 2011, he finished fifth at the SoCal Regional. In 2012, he finished 21st at Regionals with a broken thumb. This season, he finished 24th in the Open in SoCal.
“Last year, our box had three male competitors at Regionals and one female. Right after, we hired a new female coach who had also been to Regionals as an individual. We thought that if we found someone to fill that third spot, we could put together a team and make a run (for the Games),” Lodin says.
“And the timing was perfect,” he continues. “I had just gotten married and I travel every weekend for HQ with the Level 1 Seminar Staff, so I didn’t really have the time to give (to compete as an individual).”
Though Lodin has a busy schedule, the team trains together often.
“With good individuals coming together to be a team, practices are not workout-orientated,” he says. “It is really how well we can work together. We are simply trying to work as a unit. We all approach workouts differently and we are learning how to mesh those styles together.”
Lodin adds: “I have always been a team-sport guy, but last year, breaking my thumb, I couldn’t take it as seriously, and was able to sit back and watch. Teams have so much more fun. Individuals don’t have fun until it is done!”