January 9, 2012
A Note From Jill Spealler
By Jill Spealler
Jill Spealler competed in the 60-plus Masters competition at the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games for the first time.
Jill Spealler competed in the 60-plus Masters competition at the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games for the first time.

Jill Spealler competed in the 60-plus Masters competition at the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games for the first time. After the competition was over, she expressed her thanks in this letter, not only as a competitor, but as a mother of a Games competitor.

How can I express my sincere thanks for such a wonderful experience? I had no idea what the CrossFit Games were like, as I had never watched the event or competed. 

When I first qualified for the Games, I went to my son, Chris, and expressed my reluctance to go. Feeling rather inadequate, not confident, and totally overwhelmed, I mentioned to Chris that I really should not go as a participant. His response was, “You’d better go, Mom!” So, with that said, I tried to work on double unders, overhead squats, 75-pound clean and jerks … and the list goes on and on. 

I asked Chris what I should be doing to prepare to compete and he said, “Just keep coming to the gym.” That is what I did. As the event approached, I found myself experiencing many sleepless nights – doing workouts in my head all night long. Gradually, I felt more prepared to go. I eventually got up to 30 double unders in a row! It also helped me to have Eric O’Connorat my side getting me used to hearing, “no rep!” 

I will be the first to compliment you on an event that was totally “over the top.” From the opening reception to the closing ceremonies, it was definitely a first-class event. I had never experienced anything like that in my life – both as a spectator and a participant. You all made us feel welcomed, and treated us with respect. Even at 60-plus, we felt like we mattered just as much as everyone else competing in the Games. 

Johnny Mac and his group did a wonderful job of structuring the Masters competition. The judges were outstanding. They were fair, strict, encouraging, and fun! From the first workout – that I was so scared to do – to the last one in the main stadium (where I was still scared), I learned to have fun while competing. The entire experience was fantastic.  

I am one proud mom to share and wear the name Spealler on my back. I hope Chris and I can qualify again next year, so we can compete as mother and son again. Dave – Chris’ dad – is also looking forward to trying to qualify. 

Major events like the CrossFit Games and running in the Park City Marathon and 1/2 Marathonall have special meaning to me. I am a 14-year cancer survivor and have experienced first-hand what it is like to weigh about 90 pounds and not even have the strength to lift my head or get out of bed. The year I battled cancer was a fight to survive, get strong again, and overcome many obstacles and weaknesses. Chris was in college at the time, but he took the time to come into the gym with me. At the time, I could only lift a 2-pound dumbbell and could not lift my arms over my head. He was so encouraging to me, and told me what to work on. He went back to college, but checked in with me on vacations and always asked how I was doing. 

By the end of that year, I went from not being able to even hang from a bar, to being able to do 10 pull ups. This was a really special time for me to learn about my son. I realized then that he had a special gift of training people, encouraging them, and helping them get strong and fit. So, when he started CrossFit in the corner of the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse, here in Park City, my husband and I were some of his first clients. I once again learned what a gift he had to train people. 

I’ll have to admit that much of his approach with my husband and me is more of a “tough love” approach when we were working out in his classes. It’s kind of like, “You can figure this out Mom … you can do it.” Maybe this comes from the way he was raised. It is coming back full circle now. I know now that our teaching him to never quit anything you start, had a major impact on his life. He was always very small and had trouble competing in sports in school until he wrestled. So from age 5 through college, that was the sport he excelled in. 

I am thankful to have the CrossFit Games experience. It was definitely right up there with another one of life’s major accomplishments for me. I know without Chris’ training and encouragement, I would not have been a part of such a great event. My only regret is that I wanted so badly to climb one of those ropes. Maybe next year? 

We are already working hard at the gym, hopeful to be able to go to the Games in 2012. I will be 64 and Dave will be 67, so it’s a goal to work toward. We would also love to see our daughter, Julie Weldon, make the Games. She competed in Regionals and is so much like Chris. 

Never quit, never give up, and thank God for our abilities every day. 

Thanks again for an outstanding life experience.  


Jill Spealler