March 15, 2012
Age Is Just A Number: Jill Sprague
By Sam Radetsky

"Age is just a number. In my mind, I should be able to do what anyone else can do."

Jill Sprague is sitting in limbo. But she does not see it that way.

Sprague is a bad ass, period. Sprague is 43. The Masters division starts at 45. There are 206 women between the ages of 40 and 44 competing in the Open in NorCal, and after three Open workouts (which she calls “brilliant”), she is the only one in contention for the Regional competition.

Not that she is complaining, though. While she would love to see a 40-plus division, she also likes “to see how I stack up against the young 'uns.”

Sprague says she wishes athletes could “sort the Leaderboard by age to see how you stack up. In any event, I guess it depends on what your goal is – if it's reaching a personal best or challenging yourself, then age division is irrelevant.”

To Sprague, “age is just a number. In my mind, I should be able to do what anyone else can do.” And she is doing just that. She banked 121 reps on Workout 12.1, 67 on 12.2, and 353 on 12.3.

Those numbers represent her athletic background in a nutshell. She was a top gymnast at University of California, Los Angeles, where she won two national championships, and was named an All-American eight times. She has since been inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame and has an award given in her name to a UCLA athlete who best exemplifies the word “integrity.” Like many former gymnasts, bodyweight movements are her forte, Olympic lifting is not.

She hung up her spurs after her competitive career at UCLA, and law school, work and children forced her into a decade of “couch potato.” Boot camp style training led her back to fitness and into CrossFit.

Many athletes returning to competition after a long absence admit to slowing down as they age, but Sprague says she “is not sure if age is a factor” as she “feels pretty good most of the time.” She also says “yoga helps immensely with recovery.” 

Sprague competed on CrossFit Marin’s Affiliate Cup team in Aromas in 2009, and has been doing CrossFit comps ever since. She won the NorCal 40s competition in 2011, but this year she struggled with another snatch event. “Damn those snatches.”

While she competes in CrossFit, it makes up only a portion of her physical interests. She trains daily, but CrossFit-style workouts are only done about three times a week. A Jill-of-all-trades, she rock climbs, does yoga, parkour, spinning and trapeze, and loves adventure races and skiing. It is an eclectic mix, but it works for her.