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Open Field Practice Time, Fridays from 6:30-7:30pm

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Entries in coach t shepherd-er of the sheep (52)

New Kids on the Block: Hunter and Zack

Coach T comes through again and brings the Champions Club two great kids; Hunter and Zack Stein.

Hunter is a freshman at Mott and is in one of Coach T's Lifetime Fitness classes. He's a hockey player and showed really good technique in class, so Coach T got on the recruiting trail and worked to get him on board. Once I talked to the parents, I came to find out that Hunter has a twin brother, Zack, who goes to International Academy and also plays hockey. So bonus for us, they're both on board!

Hunter is definitely ahead of his brother in terms of technique because he has Coach T for 5 hours every week. In fact, if it was just him, he'd probably be the closest person I've ever seen to skipping Fundamentals - especially since T is teaching unweighting and Pose running in his class now. But Zack is no slouch and is picking up rather quickly. His work capacity might even be a tad bit better than Hunter. Both are serious about playing hockey in college and beyond, so hopefully we can help them along their way.

They finished Day 2 earlier tonight. We'll check back in when they're done.

Untitled/Unedited Rant from the First Night of Turf

For those new to the sight, U/UR are a series I started when Eminem was about to release Marshall Mathers LP 2. It's just me feeling compelled enough to write, but lazy enough not to edit. Once A period is struck on the keyboard, editing is off-limits. Here'stonight's. Dang it!


I know I'm a control freak. I've always known I was a control freak. But Christ On Ice I have never had a full appreciation for the extent that it is true up until tonight. Crystal's knees come forward on a lunge: okay let's fix it. (Or maybe she won't - she's going on 10 years and she's doing just fine.) Owen pulls with his arms early on a clean: okay he's new, it will look better over time. Josh Bennis is running around like a monkey on crack: still cool with it. The Bennis family is one of us. Random people coming into the gym not under the attention of me or the coaches: hair-pulling agony. I have not felt this uncomfortable since the wedding reception - which, coincidentally enough, was random people coming into the gym not under the coach's supervision.

There has to be something wrong with me, but I'm glad this is happening because good things tend to happen when I get outside of my comfort zone. Two parents already talked about having their younger kids come in for the Babies session, I started off two relationships with good coaches, and the gym will look realy good (I think) once it's all done. When will it be done, you ask? I HAVE NO FREAKING IDEA! I am not in control of that -or, at least as much control as I want, so cue the control freak hair-pulling again.

So full disclosure here's what's going down. That heater. That old, ugly-ass "1942 heater" as Coach T calls it is the one domino that refuses to fall down. At this point, I'm all for using it as our next wallball target until it comes collapsing down on NuNu's unsuspecting head just so we can get the ball rolling. The main problem with it is that it's huge and ugly and hanging down right smack in the middle of a field that needs to have lights and netting going across the ceiling. We were supposed to get these new radiant tube heaters that take up less space and use less energy and warm things better. All good, except it was supposed to happen in October, and now not only is there a delay but also a pretty significant misunderstanding about who is supposed to pay for it. I took the initiative to get the ball rolling early on and Mr. Fitz was set to get the entire thing done on the fine afternoon of September 6. Alas. So right now myself, Mr. Bennis, a soccer team, and a baseball team are waiting for the dragons to come in Game of Thrones. I hope that was the correct analogy, I don't watch Game of Thrones, but I think I got the gist of it from South Park.

Like I mentioned earlier, the dyscontrol I have with the heater situation being in the building owner's hands is one thing, but it just compounds on the fact that I have such a difficult time separating the building and business from my actual self. 32301 Stephenson is literally all I have; there is no fallback or Plan B. That doesn't go through my mind when Crystal's knees come forward, but it does when strangers come in the gym. I have an unhealthy amount of confidence in myself to steer the ship where I want it to go. And where is that: well, somewhere in the general direction of the Bennis, Colussi, Nevarez, and Miranda families. Which was build on the Carey, Wonsil, Junkin, Fitzgerald, and Ellsworth families. Which is being lifted on a bar by Katie Shakes. We got it going on, man. We really do. This Summer showed that day after day. You know what could easily ruin that? A jerk. One yahoo who doesn't respect the place or people or coaching inside it. Will one person shut the gym down? No chance. But maaaan I really hate taking steps backwards, especially after it's taken 7 years for me to finally start to get it.

SO back to tonight. I know if I'm coaching a group I can distill the jerks down to their primal form, or otherwise discourage them from coming back. Shannon, Coach T, and Shakes have free reigns to do any private or group coaching they want because they get it. They get why Avery, Cecilia, and Ally are great fits to the Champions Club and some others aren't. And more importantly, they have not quite as much at stake in this place as me, but it's pretty close. And the more I go down the list of our roster for the last few weeks of fall, I realize how lucky I am to have like 60 people who understand this place.

I told Barry Brunke to go eff himself on Friday night repeatedly and at a high volume. The next day he cancelled his and Angie's Lifetime Fitness membership.

So finally back to tonight. For real this time. I can't pinpopint if it's liability or community or image that has my brains spinning. I picture the baseball kids trying to jump and grab the high rings, the soccer kids wearing cleats on our floor, or the parents seeing a ceiling light get hit on a soft toss drill BECAUSE THE HEATER SITUATION IS STILL NOT SETTLED YET. But I do realize that I treat this place like holy ground, and I'msure I need to ease up (not all the time, but sometimes) in order for us to grow. The main thing, however, that is sitting bad with me right now is that none of the 4:30, 5:30, or 6:30 sessions had my full attention tonight. And that is not okay. Tonight, at least. My mind will be nowhere near the 9 am mobility session on Saturday the 24th because Michigan vs.Ohio State, and that is perfectly justified. But on a night where the only college football game is Western Michigan vs. Ball State (#MACtion is god-awful to watch, but the way), I need to be all here.

And in next week's episode I will be

Unless we lose to Indiana.

One Year Anniversary: Woooooooorrrrrrden

One year ago yesterday, Danielle Worden (which Coach T spelled out to me as "Woorden") signed up for Fundamentals at the Champions Club.

It was pretty apparent early on that Danielle was going to be a "glue guy" - as they say in basketball terms. In normal people terms, this means she's someone who holds the thing together. Our high school crew is not near where I want it to be, and it takes a few "glue guys" to get things rolling in the right direction. Danielle lives about a half hour from here, shows up 6-7 days per week, and recruits her butt off to try and start a Ford connection - which seems to be showing signs of life already.

On the workout side of things, Danielle has developed a really inclusive fitness capacity; she's a state qualifying powerlifter and also excels in endurance-related workouts. This was showcased earlier this year, as she got the Athlete of the Winter award.

Going forward, Danielle's biggest obstacle is going to be herself. She's definitely enrolled in the Murley/Crawford Class of Self Doubt about twice a week, and this shows on workouts that involve things like heavy cleans, 800s at a fast pace, or anything else that she finds herself struggling at. I've seen tantrums and self-labels of "peaking," only to witness a string of great workouts soon to follow. And I know there will be more to come as well. And that's not entirely bad.

One of the coolest things about being part of the Champions Club is that we see these kids grow up right in front of us. I am going on record predicting that over the course of the next year, we are going to watch Danielle Worden figure "it" out. She's going to develop into one of the fittest and mentally tough girls we've ever seen come through our doors; she's going to realize that it's okay for a 17 year old kid to be exactly one year into CrossFit and be bad at multiple things, and that every failure is part of the Natural Progression she has to go through in order to find the right method for success. And when she does find that out... I'm going to take all the credit!

Thank you, Danielle, for having trust in my coaching and meshing into our community for the past year! And I hope we can keep you around for a long time to come!

Bye Bye Cecilia

This morning's 9 am session marked the last workout of the Summer 2018 for Cecilia Steinwascher.

As far as Summer rookies go, you'd have to go back to 2013 with AJ and Faust to find college kids who've made this kind of an impact on the Champions Club their first time around.

Cecilia came in for Fundamentals at the end of April and was here 6-7 days a week ever since. When she started, she could not run any distance without shin pain. Now she runs 4 miles in a workout with no problems whatsoever. We spent a lot of time working on her overextension as well, and have seen some progress there; she can sort of do hollow rocks now without clunking. Right in the middle of June is where Cecilia began to catch her stride with the movements and intensity and it was fun to watch.

Even more than that, she blended in to our community right from day 1; routinely staying late after sessions to hang out, bringing in people, and encouraging everyone around her. Sometimes athletes who've earned All-American status in their sport are either uncoachable, or look down on other people. Cecilia showed none of that; she acted the same whether David Saporito or Mama V was working out beside her.

Unlike high school, college girls soccer starts in the fall, and camp begins at Grand Valley later this week. Hopefully this Summer helped Cecilia get where she wants on the field, and we'll keep you posted if she's playing anywhere within driving distance.

Thank you Cecilia for trusting our coaching and calling the Champions Club your home! We hope to see you back for the holidays!

Athlete of the Week: Luke Heide

We are officially in August now - the home stretch of the Champions Club Summer - and our athlete of the week this time around is rookie Luke Heide.

Yes, yes, I know I haven't done the rookie post yet. There are technically 25 rookies this year, so to be honest I'm just procrastinating... and waiting to see if we get a few more who are on the fence. But since early July, Luke has been one of the most consistent athletes in our entire group. This week we really got to see him showcase his conditioning. He used Ol' Red on Monday for his 5:30 session's kb swing and run workout, on Tuesday he showed good stamina on his jumping lunges, he posted a top rookie score on their version of Fight Gone Bad (well, besides Mateo and Keiton's impressive 500+ rep count), and yesterday he did great on dumbbell thrusters and 200-m runs.

Luke is a tight end going into his freshman year at Adrian College, and he seems to be very in sync with the balance he needs as an athlete. This will be his last week with us before going to fall camp, but I'm sure we can get a few more good workouts in. Either way, keep up the good work my man!

From the Vault: MottFit

Over 4 years ago, Coach T got me to come in and co-coach his 3rd hour lifetime fitness class. This was the beginning of our collaboration that grew to involve 3 schools, two gyms, and a B1G presentation.

Looking back on the video, I notice a few things we still coach, but most of it is kind of outdated; that is not to say it was wrong, but it has been refined time and time again. Still, it's cool to see the grassroots. Check it out.

Coach's Corner: Back Squats + GoFundMe Opportunity

Coach T has been doing a great job this Summer so far adjusting to the high intensity, all-inclusive way we approach CrossFit. But his specialty remains coaching the basic lifts; back squat, bench press, and deadlift. Last week he got a chance to coach 8th grade rookie Sam Butcher on her first ever sets of back squats. Here's how it looked.

Control of the spine is one of the most critical things to develop for anyone, let alone a teenager playing sports. Going slow and holding static positions is one of the best ways to help that. Keep that in mind moving forward for whenever we have max effort days this Summer.


On a down note, bad news came out of the Utica Ford community on Saturday. Head football coach Todd Koehn passed away this weekend unexpectedly and a GoFundMe page has been started to help cover the funeral costs. I met Coach Koehn a few times at Ford while preparing for the MSU clinic and helping out with powerlifting. In a world of football coaches throwing out terms like "get BIG" without thinking and downplaying anything related to CrossFit, Coach Koehn seemed to be nothing supportive of not only Coach T, but an oursider like myself. I always felt welcome at Ford and Coach Koehn went a long way to make that possible. He's definitely someone I would have liked to play for in high school.