"Sleep, diet, form, intensity, focus and mentality all have to be on point."
It was the 1989 NCAA Women’s Soccer Final Four. Six seconds left on the clock, cold, the field wet and players drenched from the ceaseless rain. The Santa Clara women’s soccer team found themselves one goal ahead of the University of North Carolina and headed towards a certain victory. It was in these last few moments of the game and an unfortunate slip of the hand by the goalkeeper that the ball rolled passed the goal line, tying the two teams. After overtime and penalty kicks, the Santa Clara Broncos may not have moved on to the championship game that year, but that season’s performance put the team on the map in Women’s Division 1 Soccer for the first time.
Linda Leipper, Southern California’s 15th ranked woman was a part of this historical team and is looking to continue making athletic history, but this time, on her own. Having competed in the 2008 and 2009 CrossFit Games and the 2011 Southern California Regional, she is now 44 years old and one year away from competing in the CrossFit Master’s Division. Leipper will be going head to head at the 2012 Southern California Regional as an individual against fellow top ranked women, some of whom are half her age.
“I enjoy pushing myself to the psychological edge because I believe that it’s in that very kind of agitation that creates and separates the winners from the losers,” she says.
Her fighting spirit can be traced back through her athletic background but is one that is also fueled by those around her. Deriving her inspiration from several different sources, she constantly looks to those around her as the source of her strength. “My children inspire me, since I am a role model for them. And they are a huge reason behind my success. I do this to make me a better person for them,” she says.
She even sits on the board and serves as the vice-president for Barbells for Boobs, the non-profit breast cancer organization that strives to provide funding for breast cancer screenings and diagnostic procedures. You’ll often find Leipper even training at the CrossFit for Boobs Affiliate. “It is in Zionna’s Munoz’s (founder of Barbells for Boobs) garage. Everything is hot pink and black. She is doing it for breast cancer survivors and to empower them to come into the affiliate. It is a safe haven where they can just get it all out,” she says.
It is these breast cancer survivors, breast cancer fighters and those who have lost their lives to the disease that Leipper also constantly finds herself fighting for in her own workouts. “‘There is an end to this workout,’ I tell myself. ‘But there isn’t an end to cancer. Not yet at least and if they can fight for their lives, I can fight for that last rep,” she says.
With her sources of inspiration fueling her mental and emotion spirit, Leipper has continued to train intelligently, as well. “Talent at this level is very common, but it's what I am willing to invest on my own to develop that talent that becomes the critical and final measure of athletic greatness and achievement. Which, in turn, gives me the determination and drive to continue to forge forward.”
Each day, once the kids are off to school, Leipper heads straight to the gym for two and a half hours to complete a session of her squatting program followed by a workout. “I’m mostly following Rudy Nielsen’s programming from Outlaw CrossFit and have been for three months now,” she says.
Linda’s training as she prepares for Regionals includes a heavy focus on Olympic lifting as she is also training two days a week with coach Max Mormont of CrossFit Costa Mesa. She is focused on the efficiency in her movements and the overall goal of simply getting stronger. Meanwhile, Leipper stays in tune with her gymnastic components- handstand push-ups, muscle-ups, handstand walks but never forgetting the simplicity of keeping it fun. “If I don’t have fun with it, I will burn out mentally, physically and spiritually,” she says.
Leipper sticks to zone/paleo combo eating as clean as possible. She consumes three big meals a day with three smaller meals in between. And with the Regional fast approaching, she is going to make sure she gets enough rest and eats as much as she can to give her body the best chance to recover the week prior to the event.
“Sleep, diet, form, intensity, focus and mentality all have to be on point,” she says. Thinking back to how she used to prep for each big game in college, “If we prepared correctly, without fail, all our hard work and determination would be poured out on that field,” she says.