May 28, 2013
One Step at a Time: Colleen Maher
By Gabriel Romero

"I don't take anything for granted, and I know I have to earn my spot."

Athletic backgrounds of CrossFit athletes span the gamut of sports known to the world. Little did we know, Irish dancing is the cat’s pajamas.

For Colleen Maher, 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games competitor and 2012 South West Regional winner, this rings true. Well, maybe not exactly, but it’s a great caveat to all of the many attributes that make her a formidable force in CrossFit competition.

“While dancing to CrossFit may not be the most obvious transition, dance was a year-round sport,” Maher says. “There was technically no offseason, so it was essentially constant training and competing. It required a significant amount of dedication and time management because I was juggling dance with all my other sports and school. I am not the kind of person who likes to do anything halfway, so I think that the biggest thing that dance has helped me with in CrossFit is dedication to training.”

Maher, the 18-year-old badass from Front Range CrossFit in Denver, has her sights set on returning to Carson, Calif., but will focus on one thing at a time.

The first step is to repeat as the winner of the South West Regional in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

“I went to the Games on our affiliate team in 2010 and 2011, and while there were certainly aspects of the team competition that I missed, I felt very lucky to have Becky Conzelman, Jasmine Dever and Kristen Olson out there competing with me in 2012,” Maher says. “It really felt like, although we were competing as individuals, we were a cohesive team. I am in a good state-of-mind this year, as well. The South West Regional is my favorite part of the competition season, so I am looking forward to it.”

Along with Maher and Conzelman, the Front Range CrossFit dominance of the women’s podium was apparent throughout the 2012 Regional. This year is different. Dever and Olson are both going team. That leaves the gates open in the South West.

It is no secret that Front Range CrossFit and its owner, Skip Miller, have produced numerous competitive athletes. Maher is no exception.

“If it weren’t for the caliber of the athletes at our gym pushing each other everyday, I am confident I would not be where I am today,” she says. “As a whole, the competitive team at our gym has been incorporating more team-oriented training sessions. In addition to the regular workouts and lifting that we all do, we have added capacity workouts to increase our endurance and efficiency in doing some of the more random movements. I think that we would all agree that the volume of our training has decreased since last year. We are focused more on quality as opposed to quantity.”

Returning as the defending South West Regional champion, Maher throws off the added pressure with a shrug.

“I don’t really feel any pressure. CrossFit is a big part of what I do, but it doesn’t define me as a person,” Maher says. “If I don’t qualify for the Games and improve from last year, yes I am going to be disappointed, but it is not going to be the end of the world. Don’t get me wrong, I am going to Regionals and hopefully the Games to compete, but I am definitely going to have fun along the way.”

Despite Maher’s humble nature, the young athlete has gotten better — much better. And others have noticed.

“Her improvement trajectory has been incredible,” Conzelman says. “It’s everyone’s goal to get constantly better, but what she does now and the continued milestones that she has reached since last year, especially with lifting, have been second to none.”

With the South West Regional coming up soon, Maher is sure to put on a show. 

“My goal for Regionals is obviously to qualify for the Games. I don’t take anything for granted and know that I am going to have to earn my spot,” Maher says. “Assuming I make it, I would like to improve upon my performance from last year’s Games.”