Still unable able to find the words to express the pride I felt in having USA across my chest on the competition floor a few weeks back. I‎t was an honor and a pleasure to represent my country by competing along with and up against an all star cast of the best CrossFit athletes in the world, in Melbourne Australia.

Throughout the course of the week we had limited opportunities to practice together as a team. One day to shake off the cobwebs together, one day to get synched up and train with a bit of intensity, and only one day to use the new four person worm. Luckily, we are a pretty balanced bunch, Scott, Tennil, Kari and myself. We also had an amazing coach in Adam Neiffer to guide us through the proper ins and outs of functioning as a team. His nine years of Games team experience were almost an unfair advantage we had over the other teams, even though i‎t may not have played out to look as such. Not knowing any of the events just yet, our practices focused on finding the right pairings for particular movements. Kari and I excel at the gymnastics stuff only slightly more than Scott and Tennil, and vice versa on the barbell so it was a good to split us up.

A consistent theme from our first practice all the way to the end of the competition itself, which was really special, was how much we lifted each other up. At times during practice, Tennil had some doubts about keeping up on some of the gymnastics stuff. I personally got more nervous than I’d have liked after the announcement of the tire flip event and failing two reps during our short amount of warm up time. Regardless, we not only assured each other that we’d be able to do it, we gave proof and examples of how. We all had a mental and emotional role on the team to go along with our physical tasks. Scott, as the most experienced athlete, took a bit of a leadership role, helping call the shots on the floor. Me, being me, I felt like it was my duty to keep the team moral high with encouragement, positivity and whatever else I could do to keep us focused but with smiles on our faces. Tennil was a bit of the class clown, in that she laughed a lot so that helped keep it light as well. Kari is a silent work horse. Ready to do whatever, whenever to help us the best she could. From even before we arrived Adam already had us all fired up. Through text and email you could feel his pride and excitement to guide our team and represent his country. Prior to each event on game day, Adam would bring the five of us into an intimate huddle just inside the tunnel. He reminded us of our game plan and gave us short and easy cues to remember during each part of the workouts. After the events we did well on, the powerful embrace and celebration made it almost more rewarding than finishing an event as an individual. Not to say my mind is drifting anywhere toward team, just yet!

The vibe between teams was funny. Certainly less nerve wracking and serious than the games themselves, but we still all wanted to win. There was a good deal of friendly trash talk here and there. Teams mostly stuck together at the dinners and such, but the after party was one big mix of Canadians, Europeans, Americans, and Aussies. Speaking of Aussies… Man, was that home crowd an enthusiastic bunch. I said before, if any team but ours had to win, I‎t was cool for it to go to the Pacific team on their home turf. Everyone that was there was a fan of the sport and as such, cheered as each team entered the arena. But, a deafening roar came each time Team Pacific took the floor. As they progressed from movement to movement, the crowd went wild to the point where it was almost distracting. As they finally capped it all off, it took a second for me to wash the bitter taste of defeat from my mouth, but was cool to share the moment with the hometown heroes.

I’d wanted to be on Team USA since they started the Invitational 7 years ago. In fact, at one point I’d even emailed Castro, asking if I could have a spot on the team before I knew how they were chosen. His response in regards to how I could earn my spot was simple, “do better.” That I did and here I am. Hopefully that wasn’t the first and last time I’ll have the opportunity.