"I really want to achieve the highest level that I can achieve, and you’re not going to get there by not giving situations in life everything that you have.”
Jayde Quilty is headed to the Canada West Regional this weekend as the top seeded individual female athlete.
But the highly excitable 27-year-old has her eyes set on the big picture: improving as a competitive athlete. For now that means staying calm, being patient and sticking to the plan.
“I’m trying to just relax about it right now,” Quilty said. “I’ve spent the last few days focusing on how far I’ve come in the last months, and that helps me motivate myself for things I might be nervous about having to do at regionals.”
Quilty, who trains and coaches at CrossFit Squamish in British Columbia, finished sixth at her first regional competition last year after placing 11th in the Open. This year, she finished the Open in second place, just 10 points behind Delaina Snider, who opted to go team.
“I try not to make a specific placing my goal,” Quilty said. “I definitely want to improve my finish from last year, so I’d like to finish top five.”
Before CrossFit, Quilty competed in track and field in high school, and later in a variety of outdoor activities in the mountains of British Columbia.
“I ran, I cross-country biked, I snowboarded, I hiked, all that stuff,” she said. “(But) there was a competitive edge that I used to have as a teenager that I wasn’t really accessing anymore—there was nothing really competitive happening in my life.”
Though Quilty’s introduction to CrossFit two-and-a-half years ago was a bit bumpy thanks to a few setbacks—an underlying injury that forced her to take some time off to recover and a car accident that injured her neck—she knew she had found something to fill that competitive void.
“I realized that this is actually an evolving sport, and it’s something that I could be competitive in, in the future,” she said.
For Quilty, part of being competitive meant making some major changes after the 2013 Regional.
After moving to Squamish from Whistler, Canada, in September and switching gyms, Quilty spent the last several months putting together a team to help her achieve her athletic goals.
Now coached by CrossFit Squamish owner Jesse Bifano, who Quilty calls her “life coach slash mentor,” she also receives remote gymnastics coaching from Louise Eberts in the Okanagan region. Additionally, she makes regular visits to several practitioners for “tune-ups” to help her manage recovery.
“Those are some big pieces that have come into play in the last 12 months that weren’t in the picture before,” she said.
Quilty has been working with Eberts especially on upper body strength and gymnastics movements.
“I grew up on a farm, and gymnastics was something that never came into my life, so that’s a very key piece moving forward as an athlete,” Quilty said. “I’m so excited to have the opportunity to work with (Eberts). We have so much work to do, but it’s begun.”
After struggling with chest-to-bar pull-ups last year during the Open and regionals, Quilty’s hard work in the offseason showed when she notched 199 reps in 14.2, enough to finish third in Canada West.
Continuing to work on her strengths as well as her weaknesses, Quilty had a consistent showing in the Open this year with five top-10 finishes. But her training wasn’t the only factor that contributed to her performance.
“We had a set-up for the Open this year that I never expected,” she said, adding that the gym turned every Friday night into a big competition, with a warm-up pit, lanes, judges and loud music. “You walked in and the energy created was pretty incredible.”
As she prepares to walk into a similar atmosphere at this weekend’s Canada West Regional, Quilty will have more experience to use as ammunition.
“With the experience that I’ve obtained in the past year, I actually feel more driven and more humbled by the sport than I did before—it’s fueled me,” she said. “I feel like I’m a little bit of a smarter athlete on the floor. I’m learning my physical and mental game better, but most of all, it’s lit my fire even more.”
With that fire, Quilty is ready to confront events she knows will challenge her.
“I definitely have some weaknesses that this regional is going to attack,” she said. “They are movements that are being worked on, and I know that I have to be patient with them.”
Packing her suitcase with matching outfits and nail polish, motivational Post-It notes to stick all over her hotel room, and even her entire Nespresso coffee machine, Quilty is preparing to head into competition with the support of her team, gym and family.
For Quilty, the competition will be all the more special because her 80-year-old grandma, Linda, will be making the trip to Richmond to watch her compete.
“Every time she speaks to me on the phone or sends me an email or a card, she always says, ‘Stay strong.’ I know it’s very generic, but it has a deeper meaning coming from her,” Quilty said. “That’s something I’ve thought of often when things are getting tough.”
This weekend she will be digging deep, using her passion and work ethic to build towards her ultimate goal of competing at the Games.
What keeps her going on her CrossFit journey?
“I think it’s the will to become better,” she said. “I really want to achieve the highest level that I can achieve, and you’re not going to get there by not giving situations in life everything that you have.”