March 23, 2012
Under the Friday Night Lights
By Jennifer Heathcock

"This is everyone's first CrossFit competition. We have encouraged them to use it as an opportunity to compare themselves with everyone in the world."

It's Friday Night Lights in Texas, and we're not talking about the lights beating down on the high school gridiron. CrossFit Tyler is hosting the 2012 CrossFit Games Open in an old, familiar way – a community gathered to watch a clash of its very own titans, but under the floodlights of a warehouse on the south end of town.

Amy and Brad Chesley opened their box less than a year ago, and with most of their athletes having less than six months of training, they were able to formulate a 42-person roster. “Ninety-five percent of those have been CrossFitting for under a year, some just less than three months,” Amy says.

Imagine the crowd, and the cheers, when each person chalks up and grabs the bar. The family and friends section has been dubbed the “Peanut Gallery” for their squawks from the sidelines. Athletes have their very own cheerleaders when the times get tough and the clock seems to stop mid-movement.

“This is everyone's first CrossFit competition,” she says. “We have encouraged them to use it as an opportunity to compare themselves with everyone in the world.”

Certainly a big feat.

Two of their athletes are in the Masters division. And if the number of competitors wasn't impressive enough, the victories that come from their battles are even greater.

“We had a few PRs on the snatch WOD, people doing toes-to-bar for the first time and people doing double-unders and muscle-ups for the first time. It has been a great measuring tool for them to see their gains.”

Gains in physical and mental strength, with a community at their side.

After the clock ticks down and the athletes catch their breath, it's time to move on to a family dinner, and of course, more talk about CrossFit. “It has been a lot of fun and has created a close community,” she says. “It also gives friends and family members a chance to see what CrossFit is all about.”

Raising a community, through intensity on and off the field and leaving members asking for more. “One [athlete] even said, 'What are we going to do when the Open [is] over? Friday nights will not be the same.’”


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