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Welcome to the Champions Club Summer 2019

See schedule here. Dancing, anyone?

Entries in college football (58)

Quote of the Week vol. 273

"It ain't about the X's and O's, it's about the Jimmy's and the Joe's."

- Every coach in history

As I was watching the 5 hour ESPN coverage of National Signing Day yesterday, I can't tell you how many times this phrase - or a version of this phrase - came up from an analyst or coach. And while it's a cliche', it rings true for most successful programs, including the Champions Club.

For the most part, every CrossFit gym is doing the same thing. There's strength biases, and endurance programs, weight loss specials, and gymnastics camps that some gyms run, but at the heart of it we're all doing the same thing. The program is the program; what makes gyms different is the people in it. At this time of year we should try and appreciate all the Ricky's and the Kroll's that make the Champions Club what it is.

A Short Recap for The 4 People Who Follow College Football Here

Exactly seven days ago I changed the desktop background on my laptop.

Then Saturday happened.

The Game in 2016 is without question the most stress I have ever felt over anything in my life. There was a point in overtime, down 7, with 4th and Goal where I could not stop my left arm from shaking. I'm sure it happens all the time to people, though. This year was not nearly as bad, I just woke up at 5 am the morning of.

As a coach I've been really practicing the skill of insight lately - meaning seeing things how they are in reality, not how I think they should be. This means staying in the present and not letting your mind drift into that tricky world of abstract thinking. This takes energy, which means I need a place where it's okay to be irrational - a place where being right is much more important than seeing the opposing point of view. This place is called fandom. And my fandom is on Saturdays in the fall.

Our team is always the better team. They win with dignity and the futire is always bright. Your rivals cheerleaders are ugly, anyone can get into school there, and they cheat. It doesn't matter what kind of opposing proof you show me when my grandfather agrees. And man, for 13 weeks from September through November I bask in this irrationality in the form of 14-16 hours on the couch watching College GameDay at 10 am and finishing with Boise State/Hawaii wrapping up their flag football game at 2 am.

Somewhere buried deep beneath the Keith Jackson's majestic voice and those stupid-ass Discover Card Cashback Match commercials is a scalding desire for inclusion. I would give up two Banets and a Colussi to be in a world I can reasonably argue that Michigan is one of the elite programs in the country. This is not that world. Oklahoma averages 9 yards per play and they are probably not an elite program. You have Bama, Clemson, and Ohio freaking State. Rationality helps you look at Michigan's roster in August and understand this. Fandom sees Don Brown on the verge of crying after Penn State's only touchdown...

Courtesy of MGoBlog




In fandom it's perfectly possible and okay to be mortally shredded after a loss with your guts and brain in a soggy mess, and still be appreciative of the season. It's also okay to throw morals out the window; I would accept all of Ohio State's off-the-field problems if it meant getting their on-the-field success. In August I thought I wouldn't, but during that 4-hour game on Saturday nobody was thinking of Zach Smith or recruiting violations, they were covering their faces with a pillow screaming ANOTHER CROSSING PATTERN!?!?! and wondering where on earth we can find the tree that produces Parris Campbells.

We're probably not as good as the Penn State game, and probably not as bad as the Ohio State game. I'm good with the staff, good with the players, good with where the program is headed, and in an absolutely miserable mood. And will be for probably another few days. That's college football: simultaneously the best and the worst thing of all time.

Quote of the Week vol. 269: 

"Michigan lost by a literal inch the last time they were in Columbus despite Wilton Speight fumbling on the goal line and throwing two miserable interceptions. Last's game was 21 Michigan players outplaying the opposition and the third-string quarterback tossing up a 14.3 QBR. This isn't Michigan scrapping and clawing because "throw the records out" and we'll go for two at the end of the game because we know what's what. It's Michigan getting hit by a red shell rounding the last corner.

They're there. They're good enough. They're legitimately elite by any metric you want to poke. Now they just have to do the damn thing. The consequences of failure do not bear thinking about. It's armageddon, again. Ohio State is a rope over an abyss. Sharpen your knives."

- Brian from MGoBlog.

Saturday is taking forever.

Big Kris Suiting Up

Kris Campbell spent last year at the Air Force Prep Academy - as most service players do their first two years - on their football team and getting used to the college life. Last week he and one other kid in his class got the call up to the varsity and on Saturday, Big Kris dressed for his first ever official college football game as Air Force hosted Boise State.

The other two pictures he sent me are in the October '18 Daily WODs galleryKris is playing guard and is 4th on the depth chart I believe, so he definitely has a long way to go before being able to see the field in meaningful minutes, but I'm confident the big fella is going to stick it out and work his way to a starting spot by the time he's an upperclassman.

Kris won't be home for Thanksgiving, but he said he'll be able to swing back for sure by Christmas. Keep up the good work my man!

Quote of the Week vol. 264

Beast Mode + Workout Notes

The workout on Friday was probably the first time in a while that I felt like I really messed up at the sessions; we needed to do the back squats from the racks so we could go heavier. But this really got me thinking a lot about barbell strength and lifting heavy weights. This is a topic that I ponder and has been covered on this site a handful of times - most famously in the editorial What is Strength? from the glory days of 2015. This topic also popped up in my head while watching college football over the weekend and seeing players continuously tap their helmet to ask for a sub, and also at our basketball open gym while noticing how much more our kids complained about getting fouled when they were tired. And also watching Planet Earth II.

I really, really think CrossFit hit the nail on the head with how they approach building strength. If you can do a 400-lb. deadlift then big ups to you. If you can do a 300-lb. deadlift in the middle of a brutal workout with running and pull-ups mixed in, then you are a different breed of beast.

Strength, in real life, is very, very rarely expressed at full rest. The ability to be strong, - in as many varieties as possible, while being tired is something that I need, you need, my grandma needs, baby Josh needs, and Shea Patterson needs. (Chase Winovich seems to have that covered.) A lot of attention was given last year to Saquon Barkley cleaning 400-lbs.

This is absurd. I would also love to see what his capacity would be doing Elizabeth (even if he needed to up the weight to 155 or 185 pounds). I think most coaches and programs will be blending strength with conditioning sometime in the future - probably when the younger coaches move up in the ranks - but until then it's mostly theoretical, though backed with some good anecdotes.

As far as our gym goes, it's tough to judge purely by numbers because of the variety of athletes. Alexis Anthes is a high school sophomore with 3 months of CrossFit experience and an average strength base coming from Coach T. NuNu is an 8th grader who's feet might well have never both been off the ground at the same time before joining in May. Jay is Jay. Mrs. Pip is Mrs. Pip. Saporito, Elizabeth, and Cecilia are all back in college. I would say Katie Shakes has a perfect capacity of being strong while tired, but then I'll watch her do a push-up in Cindy and reconsider.

Mostly, I judge things based on my gut feeling. We had to get our technique on point at the end of the spring/start of Summer, then we needed to build some stamina in the legs and feet. Now I really think it will help us to feel some heavier weight in the workouts. I don't like it. And Murley/Shannon might not come back until we're through this phase, but I think it's a big part of getting a great effect from workouts like Friday or today. I don't really want any 500-lb. deadlifters, or 300-lb. cleaners, but I would like to see what kind of capacity we can develop with heavier weights within the confines of a workout.

What does this look like? Well as luck would have it, our 8:30 am session did a nice job of showing us this morning.

Normally, Mrs. Pip would have been at 65 lbs., Schornack at 25 or 35 lbs., and Mrs. Kroll at 35 lbs.; here they were at 85, 45, and 55 respectively. Not huge increases, not a weight that would be a big sick of injury, just a little extra something that might require them to slow down a bit and really zone in on the lift. I thought the technique was really good considering it was the third round. Yes, it was technically supposed to be a power clean, but as long as the squat position looked good I wasn't going to mention anything; they already had enough on their mind. Either way, all three were able to keep their positions pretty well with a weight heavier than usual.

More to come!

In Defense of Durkin and Friends

On Tuesday we did a 1-mile time trial as our workout. Danielle Schornack is bad at running, out of shape, and addicted to her asthma inhaler. So I took her inhaler from her and had her run an all-out 800m - which she pr'd - then tricked her into running another one - which she pr'd again.

The next day she bought me two packs of Starbursts.

On August 21, 2014 we did "Elizabeth," which is easily one of the worst short/intense benchmark workouts every created. Our soon to be Athlete of the Summer, Jason, was lined up against JZ and I challenged them to find "that place" and stay there. They agreed and I relentlessly held them accountable to that the entire workout.

JZ showed me his first breakdown, and that was basically the end of Jason at the Champions Club. I would love to have that one back.


So in June, a kid on Maryland's football team died following a workout. The strength coach, Rick Court, came under fire because - I never read the entire story but my assumption is - he probably called him names and questioned his toughness in not-so-polite ways when the kid in question didn't perform well in a conditioning drill. And I'm also assuming he, Court, probably didn't take action after the kid was showing bad signs after the workout. This trickled upstream to the head coach (and former Michigan defensive coordinator) DJ Durkin because he apparently adds to this kind of intimidating atmosphere in the locker room and such.

I actually got the chance to meet Rick Court at the MSU clinic I did with Coach T. He presented after our weight room portion (if I recall correctly) and ended up complimenting us on our presentations. He talked about in-season training and the importance it played in a year-round strength and conditioning program. The specifics were whatever, but he left no doubt his goal was to keep players as safe as humanly possible in a game like football. And if I was a football coach who didn't know - or care to know - the specifics of loading the prime movers, periodization and scaling in programming, and post-game recovery, Rick Court would sound like a worthy candidate for my trust.

Look, I have no idea what should happen to those coaches. I understand that Rick Court failed on a test in an irreversable way. And I've watched enough of the Black Pearl to understand that The Captain Goes Down With The Ship. But I also know what it's like to look at Abby Walker and Sam Butcher as they are running in 90 degree weather, crying in panic as they struggle to breathe, and wonder if that's just them being soft, or if there's something legit going on. My job is to help people become the best versions of themselves they possibly can, and if they get away with being soft, then I fail. But if they quit, or get seriously injured, then I fail on the opposite end of the spectrum. It's a really, really difficult line to walk, and I know I've only been doing it for 9 years or so, but it doesn't seem to get much more comfortable.

I also know what it is like to have someone working under me act in a way - without me knowing - that I don't necessarily see as a great representation of the Champions Club. Am I ultimately responsible? Yes. Is there something I can do about it? Only in retrospect, which doesn't exist.

As Nas said, "when the pistol blows, the one that's murdered be the cool one." That kid is somewhere right now with his ancestors looking down on us with a surpreme understanding. Meanwhile his parents, siblings, and friends are mourning a loss I am incapable of understanding. But I can promise the two people who feel the absolute worst about the entire thing are 1) Rick Court and 2) DJ Durkin. I feel what they feel on a small scale, and can't imagine what it's like for this to happen on a national arena.