March 16, 2012
In Her Father's Honor: Jennifer Kawaguchi
By Dan Uyemura
It was the last thing I wanted to do, yet something I knew I really had to do.
It was the last thing I wanted to do, yet something I knew I really had to do.

"It was the last thing I wanted to do, yet something I knew I really had to do."


Studies have shown that exercise can help our mental and spiritual well being just as it helps our physical well being. We’ve all had one of those days where it seems like everything that could go wrong does. In those moments, a timely trip to the box often is just what the doctor ordered to make all those stresses go away. This Open, CrossFit has been helping Jennifer Kawaguchi get through one of the the most trying times of her life; the passing of her beloved father.

On Wednesday night of 12.1, almost every CrossFitter in the world was glued to their computer awaiting the announcement of the 2012 Open’s first workout.  For Jennifer, it was the farthest thing from her mind. Kawaguchi was by her ailing father’s side that night, as she’d been for much of the previous few weeks. That following day, she was called home from work.  Her father passed away peacefully before she was able to get back to his side.

Overcome with grief and sadness, CrossFit and the Open was one of the last things on her mind initially. As the day continued on she began to realize that the Open workout was creeping its way into her head here and there. With a heavy heart, she decided to try to pop into the gym, hoping if anything she could get a 7 minute reprieve before she got back to life.

She says, “It was the last thing I wanted to do, yet something I knew I really had to do. As any kid, I always strived to make my parents proud. My dad knew that I was doing a new kind of thing and competing again. So  I made myself go on Friday morning and get those burpees out of the way.”

While most of us were busy lamenting over burpees and snatches in the first two weeks of the Open, Jennifer found a new perspective on the Open workouts. In the midst of funeral planning and handling the details of her father’s passing, Jennifer began to find the daily escape to her CrossFit affiliate as an integral part of her grieving process.

“After doing 12.1 I felt a load of stress sort of lifted. I knew there were going to be some very tough days ahead for me and my family. Doing CrossFit has been the best distraction for me. As the following week progressed, I became stronger emotionally as my 3 brothers and 2 sisters and I had to make plans for the funeral. At times I feel selfish about the time I make and take out of each day to go to CrossFit TSAC, but I know I need it to stay strong both emotionally and physically.“  

Everything inside of her wanted to just walk away from the seemingly meaningless event, but the core values that her parents had instilled in her prevented her from doing just that.  Jennifer had made it her goal to try to qualify for the CrossFit Games in the Women’s Masters (45-50) Division, and her father would have expected her to fulfil that goal.

“I had already committed to trying to qualify for the Games before my dad fell ill. The first 2 WODs were definitely inspired by my dad because it would have been pretty easy to walk away and give up. My dad never made excuses for himself or any of us. With that being said, I was not going to let the events of the past month be an excuse to give up or wait till next year,” she says.

After 3 weeks of the Open, Jennifer sits at 17th in the World for Master’s Women (aged 45-49).  However, to her this Open is not about where she places in her Region nor where she places in the World - it’s about keeping a place for her dad in her heart.