April 22, 2012
One Affiliate, Two Teams: CrossFit Woodward
By Karen Feiner

"I didn't start my CrossFit journey at Woodward, but I plan on being here till the end."

One affiliate, two teams. That’s how they roll at Woodward CrossFit. “We wanted to give everyone a shot, and after crunching numbers, I thought we had a great shot, even with multiple teams,” owner Matt Woodward says.

He was right about that. Last year, the gym had 23 competitors in the Open, but this year, 46 members competed and 18 athletes are headed to Regionals, including competitors from Teams De-Shirt (7th in the Open) and The OG (28th in the Open). Another result of having two teams in one box? Cabot Wilkinson, competitor on Team De-Shirt, says, “Having two teams compete has created some good ol’ fun and crap talking at our gym,”  

The next question has to be, where did those team names come from?  “The OG was created by Pamela Gagot [another Woodward coach],” Woodward says.

“OG, you know … Original Gym and because we’re gangsta,” Gagot says.

Team De-Shirt was founded at “the Fittest Games in 2011; there was an athlete from another gym who finished his WOD and while talking to his coach/friends said, ‘Man … I should have de-shirted.’ The guys just ran with it,” Wilkinson says.

And they keep running. Team De-Shirt competed in the Open with nine athletes and no margin for error. “Being on Team De-Shirt, we had a lot of weight on our shoulders. We had to all perform at a high level to contribute to the team. With only nine team members, every rep we could squeeze out of an open WOD counted,” Wilkinson says.

Team De-Shirt started out as a group of competitive CrossFitters called Level 3. “Justin, Dave, Cabot, and I have been training together for nearly 12 months straight and make up the original nucleus of the Level 3 group, which is our competition team,” Jeff Collop, member of Team De-Shirt, says.

The coaching is the same for both teams. “It consists of set rest days, WOD days, Oly days and skill built into what we call the warm-up,” Woodward says. “Although it’s deemed the ‘warm up,’ it can be a full-blown 20-minute WOD depending on where you are in your training. The loads and movements become more difficult over time allowing a natural progression.”

With the coaching of Woodward and Oleg Kecho, a 1996 Olympic competitor and Olympic weightlifter from Belarus, Team De-Shirt has gone from unbalanced to underestimated. And they are out for blood. Kecho has helped them get there.

“The way that he tweaks your technique to make it perfect gives you that extra little push to throw weight up that you never thought you could. When I came to Woodward, my snatch was around 135 pounds, and is now 200-plus,” Justin Adams, Level 3 original member, says.

Surrounded by bigger boxes, they see the South Central Regional as their chance to show that they can lift heavier, move faster and push harder in competition (and they have twice the opportunity).

 “The two teams are divided due to logistics, but we still come in everyday and work out as one … we are Woodward CrossFit,” Team De-Shirt’s Shannon Isbell says.

Woodward CrossFit is going strong, but not without sacrifice on the part of the owner. “I had to set my pride aside and come to the realization that I couldn’t balance work, life, training, and coaching, so I had to give something up,” Woodward says. “I jump into our normal classes from time to time, and test the Level 3 group when I feel lucky and think they won’t beat me too badly.”

While Woodward has been sidelined from competition he is still a big part of the game. “I coach both teams, and as much as I would love to be an athlete, my role is to help the team and progress our athletes,” he says. “I have an 8 to 5 job at a software company and my wife and I are raising two beautiful boys (3 and 20 months), so life is kind of crazy right now.”

The importance of family cannot be overlooked at this box. Every single athlete used this term to describe their team members, and the Woodward CrossFit community.

And, let’s not forget the large amount of muscle. “From a competitive aspect the reason we work so well as a team is because everyone has strengths in different areas, and we use that to our full advantage,” Adams says. “Jeff, Cabot and Sarah, for example are crazy strong. Their 1 rep maxes are something that I can hope to achieve someday, but I am nowhere close yet. Dave [Team De-Shirt] is an awesome all around athlete who I am pretty sure has a third lung, because he can go forever! Shannon and Jaz [Team De-Shirt] want it bad, and will fight for every single rep in a workout. I came from a gymnastics background, and so the body weight and gymnastics elements come natural to me. When you put us together as a team, regardless of the workout, we will have someone who is proficient at the movements placed before us, and we will crush it every time!”

This community is a family bound by more than blood; it’s built on sweat and an ability to overcome or just plow through any obstacles. “I didn’t start my CrossFit journey at Woodward, but I plan on being here till the end,” Isbell says.