May 19, 2014
The Future is Now
By David Harp
Humble and talented, Sam Jett could very well be the future of the sport. If that’s the case, the future looks bright.
Humble and talented, Sam Jett could very well be the future of the sport. If that’s the case, the future looks bright.

Humble and talented, Sam Jett could very well be the future of the sport. If that’s the case, the future looks bright.
Photos / Matt McCraney and Kristen Jett

In some ways, Sam Jett is just your average, well-raised teenager. At CrossFit BOLT in Coppell, Texas, Jett is polite to a fault. He uses “mister” or “miss” with the adult members at his gym and has trouble calling them by a first name, even after they insist he do so.   

Watch Jett train, however, and the idea of average goes out the window.

The talented teenager finished the CrossFit Games Open in 39th place in the South Central Region. His performance makes him one of the youngest regional qualifiers in 2014.  

It won’t be his first time competing in San Antonio. Last year, Jett was a member of CrossFit BOLT’s affiliate team and the youngest competitor on the floor. He believes that experience served him well as preparation for this year. His coach Matt McCraney agrees.

“Sam made a huge jump between 16 and 17 years old, and he made our regionals team. It’s awesome to be competing at such a high level at such a young age,” McCraney said. “I knew he’d be able to take the next step. And he has.”

Before those giant steps were taken, Jett was making strides toward being a great CrossFit athlete, without even knowing it. He competed in a wide range of sports as a kid, including wrestling, lacrosse and football. It also didn’t hurt that both of his parents were very athletic. His mother Kristen was a competitive marathon runner, while his father Derek has been a role model when it comes to fitness. In fact, it was his father who introduced Jett to CrossFit as a 13-year-old.

“My dad said he’d been doing this new workout thing and I should come try it sometime,” he said. “So I went with him to our little globo gym and it was really fun. I liked getting on the main site every night and waiting for them to post the WOD. We’d get funny looks, especially during handstand push-ups. The walls were covered with glass so we couldn’t really kick up. We had to hold each others’ feet. It was weird with this 13-year-old kid and his dad holding his feet up, but even more weird when I was trying to hold his giant legs.”

One day, Jett decided to search the Internet for a local CrossFit gym. As things turned out, CrossFit BOLT was only a mile from his house. Too young to drive, he hopped his backyard fence, walked across some railroad tracks and cut through some bushes to get there. 

“I walked in the back door and thought, ‘Is this a gym?’ There were mats on the floor, a few (med) balls and some barbells—but no pull-up rig,” Jett said.

The Spartan conditions were due to the fact that CrossFit BOLT had just opened for business. Jett has literally matured as a CrossFit athlete as the gym has grown into a respected box in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

For its small size, it has produced an impressive number of high-level athletes, including regionals competitor Courtney Wuistinger and Games veteran Cassidy Lance. They’ve been with Jett as he’s evolved from a scrawny 15-year-old kid into a beastly—but polite—young man.

“I remember doing sprints with him and he kicked my butt,” Lance said. “I was determined for him not to beat me. But he did.”

According to Lance, one thing has always stood out about Jett since the first day.

“He’s always had that ‘Sam face.’ Any workout that he does, this ‘Sam face’ comes out and you know he’s pushing really hard,” she said.

It’s impossible to be around Jett for very long without noticing his work ethic. He quit playing several sports in order to train CrossFit full time. He often trains twice a day and isn’t afraid to enter that “dark place” during workouts. In fact, he’s always willing to push a little further. For his hard work and tolerance for pain, he has earned the respect of fellow members who look up to him in spite of his age.

Jett’s coach calls his work ethic his greatest attribute.

“Anyone who has seen Sam training knows how hard he works,” McCraney said. “As a coach, you can’t ask for anything more.”

When asked about the challenges of training an athlete Jett’s age, McCraney laughed: “He’s a teenager.”

But again, Jett is hardly average. A National Merit Scholar, he will attend the University of Oklahoma in the fall.

“Sam is one of the smartest kids I’ve ever been around, so he thinks on a really deep level beyond most teenagers,” McCraney added.

As for goals, Jett hopes to use the South Central Regional as a learning experience. He doesn’t think he’ll qualify for the Games but he’d like to excel at the events that are “up his alley.” A top-three finish in one of the events would be ideal.

Jett is extremely excited to share the floor with Lance. The two athletes will be cheered on by the BOLT faithful making the journey to San Antonio. If Jett has one regret, it’s that Wuistinger, his mentor and buddy, won’t be on the floor competing with him. Last year’s Open champion in the region, Wuistinger injured his back recently.  

“I might not have realized it at the time, but having someone (Wuistinger) that good beat me day after day helped me become a better CrossFitter,” he said. “I was very much looking forward to standing on the floor at Freeman Coliseum with him. It’s unfortunate that he was injured and didn’t make it this year. I sure wish he would have.”

Humble and talented, Jett could very well be the future of the sport. If that’s the case, the future looks bright.