Athlete of the Month

Stronghold Pride – Athlete of the Month: August 2015 : Michelle Elliott

August 1, 2015
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michelleIt is seriously about time that we recognize this special lady. She has been a member of the Stronghold family for a very long time and is by far one of the most faithful, motivated, and hardworking individuals to grace us with her presence. She is notorious for bargaining for less work… or TRYING to bargain, rather. She rarely gets her way, but even if she did she’d opt for doing more work anyway. She’s interesting like that.

Michelle is always game for some sort of community challenge or competition and she is often the last one standing when others quit. I can think of several challenges: 30 day squat challenge, paleo challenge, misc nutrition challenge, etc. etc. that she saw through to the end when everyone else fell off.

Michelle’s determination and dedication are inspiring. When she first came in, she couldn’t squat without falling over. This went on for weeks, but she kept at it. When we finally got that sorted, we realized she couldn’t even set up for a deadlift without falling over. Again, she kept at it. She will disagree with me but she is one of the best movers in the gym. She still gets a little frustrated because there are a few goals that continue to elude her, but what sets her apart is that no matter what, she keeps pushing, and working, and trying… and with a smile on her face.

She will probably hate me for “being outted” as she’ll probably describe this, but she’s stayed back behind the scenes and “unnoticed” for long enough. We wouldn’t be the same without her and this small bit of recognition is long over due.

Please join me in honoring CrossFit Stronghold’s August 2015 Athlete of the Month: Michelle Elliott.

– Coach Ray

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Stronghold Pride – Athlete of the Month: July 2015 : Niko Garcia

July 2, 2015
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NikoThis kid’s got potential… and lots of it.

Hands down the smallest of our competitive athletes, Niko makes up for it in heart. And if you haven’t noticed by now, a recurring theme among the athletes that are recognized each month is the ever important quality of being coachable. Niko is that and then some. He is always looking for ways to get better and to improve himself. He takes feedback with humility and he is constantly pushing to be the best he can.

In case you weren’t there to witness it, here’s some amazing footage of Niko during a tie breaker event against a guy at least 50-60lbs heavier than him. To label that as “impressive” would be a gross understatement.

David vs Goliath @nikogarcia4

A video posted by CrossFit Stronghold San Diego (@crossfitstrongholdsd) on

Please join me in honoring Niko Garcia, CrossFit Stronghold’s July 2015 Athlete of the Month

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Stronghold Pride – Athlete of the Month: June 2015 : Nic Van Biene

June 1, 2015
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NicAt our 2014 awards banquet, Nic Van Biene walked away with the “Most Obsessed” award. I think a few better ways to describe Nic would be: dedicated, determined, and tenacious.
Nic is the embodiment of consistency and coachability. You never really have to wonder if Nic is going to show up to train. And even if he doesn’t, you’ll most certainly get a text from him with either a question about the workout or a report of his score. Nic travels quite a bit and rarely lets it get in the way of him keeping up with the rest of the competition team workouts.

Nic has a solid athletic base and background. He can run circles around ANYONE in the gym. Where he’s struggled significantly is in the areas of mobility and high skill movements. Combine those two characteristics with a coach who is as relentless and picky as I am, and you’ve got a a recipe for frustration. But Nic’s character has shined through in his humility and equally unrelenting work ethic. The last several months we have seen IMMENSE improvement and some pretty epic breakthroughs. The photo to the right is Nic at our most recent competition. He practiced every day for weeks preparing for one particular skill that he knew he needed for the competition. It didn’t pan out so well that day. But two days later, it all clicked… go figure. But regardless, Nic’s can-do attitude and drive are a great example for us all. Keep pushing!

Please join me in honoring CrossFit Stronghold’s June 2015 Athlete of the Month: Nic Van Biene



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Stronghold Pride – Athlete of the Month : May 2015 : ‎Stevie Santos

May 1, 2015
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“Since my sweaty @caffeineandkilos T-shirt looked like a heart today I wanted to share something with you. ‘I am not physically gifted, it takes me ten thousand times to learn a simple technique and my body is constantly fighting back, but HEART gets me up every morning to chip away at all my lack of skill and imperfections'”.

Choosing this month’s Athlete of the Month was a COMPLETE no brainer. I was just a little worried about finding a picture because, regrettably, I haven’t been shooting many lately. So I went hunting on Facebook and found this… and then I read his caption… And realized he literally stole the words that I intended to write about him. Well I guess it doesn’t work that way… considering he wrote the words 4 months ago…

Anyway… I first met Stevie over three years ago back when Ace (of Mighty CrossFit) was still running our program. Stevie didn’t stick around too long. He was struggling with some injuries and had to take time off. Stevie rejoined us about 6 months ago and has been a consistent, hard-working, and determined member of our community ever since.

Like he said in his caption, he had some challenges when he first started. His knees wanted to go in weird directions when he kept trying to force them in another direction, his feet would collapse, his back would round and go into unsafe positions, he would lose his balance and fall over… He had a really tough time of it. He got frustrated a bunch, but regardless, he never gave up and he kept pushing to be better.

Stevie’s consistency, humility, and coachable attitude are fueled by his HEART to persevere and be the best he can. He’s come A LONG WAY in six months and it’s been a beautiful transformation to witness.

Please join me in honoring CrossFit Stronghold’s May 2015 Athlete of the Month: Stevie Santos

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Stronghold Pride – Athlete of the Month : April 2015 : ‎John Harrop

April 1, 2015
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John Athlete of the Month

“Wow”… You can’t help but say it out loud when you watch John move. He is without a doubt the least physically flexible member of our Stronghold family, but the guy can MOVE. John can run, he can jump, he can do pull ups, he can move a lot of weight, and he’s got amazing balance standing on his head…and for such a big guy that says a lot.

John came to us kind of on accident. He intended to visit another nearby gym to try them out, but when he got there, they weren’t having their intro class that day as advertised, so he showed up at our door, which is awesome for us because he’s been an absolute joy to have as part of our family. John works hard, he never complains (not out loud at least), and he always brings a great attitude.

The greatest surprise for me as a coach was leaving the country for 2 weeks and finding out later that John had entered into the annual CrossFit Games Open Competition. The photo here is one of many pull-ups that he completed during one of the workouts. Looking back, it was one of John’s goals to do just one, let alone several.

I’m very thankful that the other gym wasn’t offering their beginner class that day John when gym hunting. He’s an invaluable member of our community and I’m looking forward to seeing more goals smashed and more surprising feats of awesome.

Please join me in honoring April 2015’s Athlete of the Month: John Harrop

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Stronghold Pride – Athlete of the Month : March 2015 : ‎Kaitlyn Krowel

March 1, 2015
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Kaitlyn, AKA Kait Norris, AKA Stronghold Kween of Kwadz came to us about 18 months ago and has been a steadfast, faithful, and integral part of our community ever since. 

Kaitlyn doesn’t do push ups. She does earth downs. Kaitlyn CAN believe it’s not butter and she can do an 8 min AMRAP in 7. 

Tough as nails, Kaitlyn works hard, is consistent, and always a positive contributor as a workout partner, a competition team member, and most recently, a coach. 

Kaitlyn has also been a huge help in bringing a softer, more empathetic touch to the previously all-male “D” for “duh” coaching team. She brings balance and a mature, even-keeled persepective to the staff and has helped improve the things we do to enhance the overall member experience. 

Most recently, Kaitlyn was instrumental in holding down the fort while Head Coach Ray was away for almost two weeks coaching internationally and taking a mini vacation (a first in over three years). 

We appreciate Kaitlyn in more ways than we can say and are thankful she is part of our family. Join together in recognizing and honoring March’s Athlete of the Month: Kaitlyn Krowel

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Stronghold Pride – Athlete of the Month : February 2015 : ‎Patrick Cundiff

February 1, 2015
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The running for this month’s Athlete of the Month was a close one. But yesterday morning’s performance pretty much sealed the deal for Patrick.

(Click here to see this morning’s snatch PR)

Patrick first came into the gym in May of last year. He had just moved to San Diego from Orange County, was gym shopping, and looking for a place that specialized in weightlifting (snatch, clean and jerk). Pat came in on a slow day and ended up being the only guy in class. I wanted to see how he moved so I had him work up to a heavy single in the snatch and clean and jerk. I could see right away he had a ton of potential. Strong and fast… but had some technique adjustments that needed to be made. He told me he’d check out a few more places and get back to me. I didn’t see or hear from him again for 3 months.

Patrick eventually joined us in August and has been steadily improving ever since.

The cool thing about Patrick is his work ethic. He’s consistent and proactively works on his weaknesses. On Saturday mornings, when everyone else straggles in 5-15 minutes before class, Pat comes an hour early (7am) to warm up and drill positions. His diligence has been paying off. This snatch PR is a testament to it. There are still a couple technical things to improve here, but its progress. Looking forward to see him start moving really big weight.

Please join me in recognizing and honoring The Stronghold Athlete of the Month for February: Patrick Cundiff. Read More

Stronghold Pride – Athlete of the Month : January 2015 : ‎MacKenzie Spycher

January 1, 2015
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MacKenzie This girl though…

MacKenzie isn’t ACTUALLY the youngest… but I definitely consider her the “baby” of the family. She’s like that little sister you just want to noogie all the time but will also protect with your life. Kenzie always has a smile on her face and is one of the most humble and sweetest people you’ll ever meet.

Did I mention resilient and determined? MacKenzie is currently in a boot with an injured foot, but that doesn’t keep her from coming into the gym. She doesn’t make excuses. She does what she can… and sometimes even more than I ask. The photo to the left is evidence of her refusing to be scaled… not too much at least. I gave her alternatives to double unders and hand stand push ups that didn’t remotely resemble double unders or handstand push ups but she insisted on single leg skips and handstand holds. 🙂

You would think that with that much gusto, MacKenzie oozes confidence. She does in some areas… but not so much in others. She needs a bit of encouragement sometimes. MacKenzie’s self perceived limits are often nowhere near her actual capacity. While I am known to be quicker to take away weight or intensity than to give it, MacKenzie is often on the receiving end of “Ok good, now do more”… It’s actually a little comical to see her puzzled expression and unspoken “Are you serious?” look on her face when I give her something to do for which she doesn’t think herself ready. This is usually followed by a stunned look of disbelief when the seemingly impossible somehow became possible. She surprises herself a lot.

MacKenzie has grown a lot in the short time she’s been with us and she hasn’t nearly tapped her potential. I’m looking forward to even more bigger and more awesome victories in the coming year.

Please join me in honoring our first Athlete of the Month for 2015: ‎MacKenzie Spycher

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Stronghold Pride – Athlete of the Month : December 2014 : Becky LeGris

December 1, 2014
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Becky LeGris - Photo Credit: Momentum RX Media

Photo Credit: Momentum RX Media

Selecting the Athlete of the Month is a tough task. For such a small community we have a wealth of amazing people worthy of the limelight. Becky has been on the short list for the last several months and what edges her to the top this month is the sad news that she will be leaving us soon. 🙁 But we won’t talk about that just yet.

Becky is sweet, hard working, and her devotion to our community embodies the spirit of what makes CrossFit more than a gym, more than a lifestyle, but family. To call Becky’s work schedule “tough” is an understatement. Nevertheless, her commitment has shined through as she tirelessly endeavors to make time for training. If we have an event, you can pretty much guarantee she’ll be there (unless work has its way).

Becky came to us with a bit of experience but like all precious gems, she needed a bit of polishing. She has worked hard to overcome some mobility challenges and has made sizable gains that have also improved her technique, skill, and overall strength. She continues to move better and better every day.

Becky is an integral part of our community that will be sorely missed. Next month, Becky will be moving back to Orange County to go back to school. Our hope that as she goes, it won’t be a “goodbye” but a “see you later”. Wherever you go, remember that you’ll always be family.

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Stronghold Pride – Athlete of the Month : November 2014 : Kyle Carmichael

November 1, 2014
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Kyle Carmichael

Couldn’t find an action shot… but this Abercrombie shot is epic too

Intern Kyle joined our Stronghold family early this summer. We first met on a June afternoon. I had just arrived to the gym in my sister’s lime green VW Beetle and out of the corner of my eye, I see this kid roll up across the street in a lifted Cherokee XJ. I was a little embarrassed when he walked right up to me. I think the first words I said to him was “uh…don’t worry about the car…it’s my sister’s.”

Anyway, Kyle had been CrossFitting at home for years and was looking for a community to join. Of all our active CrossFitters, I think he has the most consistent experience (more than myself included). At age 14, he was featured in an article on the CrossFit Games website (article here). In the article, it notes that Kyle “is training hard to prepare for the NorCal Regional Qualifiers”. Getting to Regionals is still a goal of his, one we are actively working toward. Kyle also attended the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Seminar at the CrossFit Ranch in Aromas. But at the time, he was still too young to become a trainer. He plans to officially get his L1 later this month.

Needless to say, Kyle came to us with a decent background and level of experience. But like many garage gym CrossFitters, much of his training was without the watchful eye of an experienced coach. While he moved relatively well already, there were a few adjustments that needed to be made. Thankfully, Kyle is one of the most humble and coachable athletes you could ever meet. He works hard, he’s consistent, and he is quick to adapt to coaching cues and correction. In the last few weeks he has been obliterating his previous personal records:

snatch: 93kg/204.6lb (previously 86kg/189.2lb)
clean: 106kg/233.2lb (previously 100kg/220lb)
jerk: 115kg/253lb (previously 100kg/220lb)
front squat: 127kg/279.4lb (previously 118kg/259.6lb)
shoulder press: 76kg/167.2lb (previously 69kg/151.8lb)

This is all after less than 5 months of training with us. Kyle has a TON of potential and it will be exciting to see what the future holds for this diligent young man. Join me in honoring Kyle Carmichael, CrossFit Stronghold’s November Athlete of the Month

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