"We want to be repeat champions and we can do it."
At last year’s North East Regional, Mel Ockerby knocked out 28 unbroken handstand push-ups in the opening workout.
It was an impressive feat, demonstrating her years of gymnastics had served her well in skill and strength.
Despite mostly strong finishes throughout the three-day competition, Ockerby didn’t reach the podium.
Finishing 4th, she missed going to the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games as an individual.
But after CrossFit New England co-owner and coach Heather Bergeron came off the affiliate’s team, Ockerby was in. Thus, the former cheerleader made her way back to the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. with the CFNE team.
Unlike 2011, Ockerby is not making a run for an individual spot this year. Instead, she is going team at the Regional level.
“I made that decision from the time we ended the Games last year,” she says. “We want to be repeat champions and we can do it.”
Once again winning the Games Affiliate Cup will be no easy achievement, Ockerby acknowledges.
To prepare, CFNE team members started training in September.
“The more you train together, you learn each other’s habits, how they feel, how to read them better,” Ockerby says. “We are just more cohesive as a team than we were back at Regionals last year.”
CFNE co-owner and head coach Ben Bergeron has segmented the team’s training this year, working in six to eight week increments. First, the team worked on building strength, hitting the slow, heavy lifts. Next was Olympic weightlifting, followed by time focused on weaknesses. Bergeron then bumped up the volume. Now the team trains specifically for Regionals.
“We needed to work on overall strength,” Ockerby says. “Now we’re friggin’ strong.”
The 5’3, 135lb. athlete names rowing as one of her goats, blaming her small frame as the culprit. So she rows every day in her warm-up.
Ockerby joins the team for 7:30 AM workouts in an empty box between classes. On days when Bergeron programs multiple workouts, the team typically meets again around 1:30 PM when the gym is free.
The team has lofty goals for this year’s Regional: win every workout, just like last year, and set at least three world records.
“We plan on winning the Games,” says Ockerby.
A gymnast of 12 years, the 27 year old reached Level 9 out of 10 in the sport.
“Throughout gymnastics I always wanted to go to the Olympics,” she says.
That didn’t happen. As a member of CFNE, however, she has arguably reached the pinnacle of her current sport.
“It’s the Olympics of CrossFit,” Ockerby says. “And we won the gold medal at the Olympics.”