February 22, 2014
Newcomer's Numbers Rival Fittest on Earth
By James Toland

"Good things don't come easily, but success is worth the sacrifices and hard work."

Photos courtesy of William Moore

Katie Trombetta is a CrossFit newbie.

She’s only been training at Riverbend CrossFit in Edwardsville, Ill., since January 2013 and she has virtually no competitive CrossFit experience.

So there’s little reason to think she’d have a chance at qualifying for the North Central Regional.

That is until you see her numbers.

 The 22-year-old English teacher from St. Louis, Mo., can snatch 153 lb., deadlift 340 lb. and back squat 315 lb.

What’s even more impressive is comparing Trombetta to the top-three female finishers at last year’s CrossFit Games. She snatches just 5 lb. less than defending champion Samantha Briggs’ 158 lb.; she can deadlift more than third-place finisher Valerie Voboril’s 315 lb.; and she back squats more than Lindsey Valenzuela’s 295 lb.

These would all be eye-popping numbers for a veteran competitor, but factor in her age and only 13 months of training and Trombetta becomes not only an athlete to follow in the Open, but one to watch as a contender for one of the top three spots in the North Central Region.

Trombetta has a softball background. She walked on at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in 2010 and played for the Cougars for one season, mainly as a pinch runner. She did some weightlifting in high school but stopped after an injury. She started weightlifting again in college, but after one season as a collegiate softball player, she only did an occasional boot camp class and lifted free weights to stay active.

Then she found CrossFit.

Trombetta learned about the sport when she met her current coach Willie Moore in college. She wanted to build on her athleticism so she decided to give it a shot.

Despite impressive stats, Trombetta knows the hard work she’ll have to put in to stay competitive and earn a trip to the Navy Pier for regionals in May.

She’s already faced a setback when she had to go three months without touching a barbell after tearing a ligament in her wrist.

“I have tons of respect for the girls that have been doing this for years,” Trombetta said. “And I think I can hold my own with them.”

Moore has faith in the first-time Open competitor, too.

“History shows that the Open workouts play into Katie's strengths,” he said. “They are typically shorter in duration, couplets and triplets and have consisted of movements and loads that she can do well with. In addition to the workout selection, Katie has been preparing all winter, addressing weaknesses, improving work capacity and becoming a more efficient CrossFit (athlete).”

This preparation includes a diet high in protein and programming which includes planning and tracking her food intake.

“I eat bacon, eggs, and coffee literally every morning,” Trombetta said. “I do a mix of clean eating and carb back loading, which basically means I mainly eat carbs after my workouts in the evenings and try to stay away from processed foods. The only way I stay on track is to prep meals for the week on Sunday and keep a food journal. Sometimes the thought of chocolate milk is all that gets me through the workout.”

For the last month, Trombetta has been following CrossFit Invictus’ Open Prep, which she said she enjoys because it is forcing her to work on her weaknesses. 

“There’s a nice combination of heavy lifting and gymnastics movements,” she said. “I’m sure the next few weeks will get more intense, and I just want to focus on staying healthy and getting more efficient at the movements I need to work on.”

Moore said Trombetta sometimes struggles with ring work when she is fatigued and needs to be more efficient with sub-maximal Olympic movements.

“She has only been doing the lifts for a few months now so they are still relatively new to her pacing,” Moore said. “Continuing to work on pacing will benefit her a lot.”

Back in the classroom, Trombetta, who often substitute teaches, is known as “the sub who CrossFits” to her students and has even helped inspire some of them.

“I'm also the youngest teacher at the high school, so I think the students really relate to me. My main priority as a teacher is to be a good role model and someone they can trust, and I think CrossFit has helped me to do that for my students,” she said. “I try to show them both inside and outside the classroom that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to, whatever their passion is, as long as they are willing to work for it. Good things don't come easily, but success is worth the sacrifices and hard work.”

Trombetta is enthusiastic that this year’s Open will really show her where she stands competitively and what she’ll need to do to get to the next level.

“I feel like I’ve had a lot of catching up to do,” she said. “But I’m not going to let that hold me back.”