Rich Froning On Mat Fraser & Returning to Individual Competition
Rich Froning On Mat Fraser & Returning to Individual Competition
“I’m not going back into competition.” That’s what I told my coach after our first meet. My coach was shocked at my answer.
“You’re too young! You’ll get hurt!” But I didn’t listen to him. I knew it would be better if I stayed out of the ring altogether and focus on school instead.
After all, I wasn’t just competing against other kids anymore; I was competing with myself.
If I could do it, then why couldn’t anyone else?
After all, there were no rules or regulations governing how much weight someone had to lift or how many reps they had to perform. There was nothing stopping me from doing something stupid like lifting weights when I shouldn’t have been doing them in the first place.
And if there was no one watching me, then what did it matter?
It was during these times that I began to realize how far away I really was from being a normal person. At least not one like the rest of us. Sure, I had friends and family around me, but they weren’t real people. They were just numbers on a spreadsheet. What made me different was that nobody ever questioned my actions or opinions unless they directly affected their own lives. And my coach was probably the only one who ever tried to bring me back into the fold. But it was too late for all that now.
I finally had an answer for what I wanted to do with my life. My days of competing were over and I had no intention on ever stepping foot in the ring again. That’s why, when the new CrossFit Kids Course came out, I signed up right away.
I was going to teach the next generation everything my coach had tried to teach me. There was no doubt that I wanted to do this, but it wasn’t just that. I needed it for myself too. I needed someone else to look up to, or at least some kids who would listen to what I had to say.
I looked out into the stands of the arena. The lights shined directly onto the competitors and their spotters. They looked so small from where I sat.
Even the loud announcer didn’t help to distract me from how miniscule they seemed at that moment. Even though I knew it was impossible, I felt like I was looking down on them from above.
As I continued to watch them in bewilderment, a familiar face came onto the jumbo-tron. It was my brother. He didn’t look much different from how he did in high school.
I can’t tell you how happy I was to see him here, even if it was on TV. He and I hadn’t really spoken much since our last argument. I’m not sure if he knew that I had come back home or anything. In fact, I’m not even sure why he was even there to begin with.
The announcer spoke once more, catching my attention.
“We have a special guest here at the CrossFit Kids Championship this evening. Please help me in welcoming Mr. Jacob Froning Jr.!”
He was pointing to the jumbo-tron now, trying to get the attention off of himself. I waved and smiled as the crowd applauded. My brother waved back before disappearing from the screen.
From what I knew, he had never really been a fan of the spotlight. It was probably one of the main reasons why he got into the medical field in the first place. The camera panned back to the competitors again as I took a moment to collect my thoughts.
I remember watching my brother compete for the first time. I was so proud of him, even if I didn’t really understand what CrossFit was at the time. Now here I was, about to compete myself.
This moment had been a long time coming, and I was ready to see it through.
Alright ladies, are you ready to rock?”
my spotter asked as he held the door open for me.
“Of course!” I responded confidently as I stepped out onto the floor.
The crowd always amazed me in these moments. They were so loud and alive, like sirens luring me in towards the rocks. It was hard to focus on anything but them for the first few seconds, but I knew I had to stay calm and collected if I wanted to do well in this competition.
I stepped forward towards the crowd as my music started to play over the speakers. The upbeat rhythm was just loud enough for me to hear as it echoed throughout the arena. I put one hand in the air as I waved to the crowd, trying to gain a better reaction.
I took a moment to survey the competition. This would be the last time I would see them before we started, so I wanted to remember every face.
The girl to my far left was Latina, and couldn’t have been older than 16. Her long brown hair was tied up in a bun that was perched atop her head. I remember seeing her from the qualifying rounds and she had absolutely shredded every obstacle that had been thrown at her.
No matter the height, the width, or the weight; she had cleared it all.
To my far right was a blonde girl with a pony tail. Her hair went down to the middle of her back and she had a bang that covered her right eye. I never really paid too much attention to her during the qualifying rounds, but after looking at her for a moment I realized that she was one of the few that actually towered over me.
I didn’t know her height, but her arms and legs were very muscular. I was guessing that she specialized in heavy weights, just like my brother.
The girl in the middle was about my height and had hair that was shaved on both sides, with the middle portion flowing down to her shoulders. She would smile and wink at me every now and then, which made me a little uncomfortable. In fact, everything about her made me uncomfortable.
From her too tight outfits, to her long purple nails; I knew that if anything went wrong I could count on her to rip my head off and drink my blood.
I gripped my hands into fists and took a few deep breaths in an attempt to channel my focus. Even with the calming techniques, I could still feel the energy coming off of everyone like a force. It was as if the entire place was going to burst if the competitions didn’t get underway soon.
“Welcome, one and all, to the first annual CrossFit arena games!”
The crowd erupted in applause at the announcement as the four of us positioned ourselves in the middle of the arena. I took another look around, trying to remember everything, before the man on the speaker stepped forward.
“We will now begin the stretching exercises. The participants will place their hands on the ground and stretch forward until they feel a comfortable position. Then, they will lift one leg up until they can comfortably hold it parallel to the floor.
Between each set the stretches, they may switch which leg they are holding up.”
The man stepped off to the side as the four of us began to stretch. I felt really stiff so I took my time to get into the position, finally locking my heel up to the highest point it could go.
The man’s voice boomed throughout the area, and I quickly grabbed my other leg with both hands, pulling it upwards while trying to keep my balance. I only managed to get it to a forty-five degree angle before I dropped it back to the ground.
“One!” The man yelled, checking his clipboard for the starting positions.
I repeated the exercise until my legs felt like jello and I could barely stand up on either one. Even when I could feel my muscles burning I continued to hold my leg up, I knew that if I stopped that they would cramp up faster than I could get them back.
“30!” The man called out, and immediately the four of us dropped our legs and raced to the finish line. The blonde had taken off like a bullet the moment that she had gotten up and she was already at the other end of the field by the time I had finally regained my footing.
I gritted my teeth as I pushed my legs to the limit, trying to ignore everything around me. At that moment there was nothing except me and the finish line.
“15!” I could hear feet shuffling behind me, but I didn’t dare look back to see who it was.
“10!” I finally made it to the finish line, throwing my hands up in the air as I took my first place spot.
“4, 3, 2, 1. Good job, everyone. Now for the next event we will be doing sit-ups.
The goal is to get to one-thousand, however you may stop at any time if you feel that you are at a place where you are unable to continue. If this is the case then please step out of the arena.”
The four of us lined up in front of the sit-up mats as the man explained how the event would go.
“You may begin.” The man stepped back, watching from the side lines.
I quickly got into position before I felt someone grab my ankles. My eyes darted around, trying to figure out who had touched me, but nobody was in reach. I looked behind me, spotting the culprit.
The girl from my class was hiding underneath the mats, gripping onto my ankles tightly so I couldn’t move. I tried to pull free, but it was no use, she was stronger than she looked. I grit my teeth as I continued doing sit-ups, trying my best to ignore the pain in my back.
The girl let go of my feet after I had finished about thirty sit-ups, finally allowing me to rest.
I looked over at the other three as they continued, wondering what I should do. The guy was well on his way to finishing the sit-ups, while the girl was having a hard time with the same person holding her legs down. I had a feeling it was the blonde girl from before.
The only one struggling like me was the Asian girl. Her friend was latched onto her legs, and unlike me she didn’t seem to be in pain at all. I could overhear them talking from where I was, the one on the bottom calling the one on top a “meanie” while the other defended herself by saying that she was just trying to help.
The Asian girl seemed to think that she was playing and enjoying holding her friend down to the ground, just like a cat would play with a mouse.
I bit my lip as I watched them, wondering what I should do.
I thought about reaching for my gun, but I didn’t want to risk anything. The last thing I needed was to start a war with the other classes, especially since we needed as much help as we could get if we wanted to graduate.
I looked back at the two, trying to see if there was any way that I could separate them some how. Maybe if I could sneak up on the one on top I could pull her off. But from this distance, there was no way that I could do that before the other noticed.
I thought for a moment before an idea came to mind. I reached my hand into my pocket, pulling out my smart phone. I quickly turned on the video camera, holding it up towards the two as I got it to face both of them.
Maybe if I showed this to someone with some sort of authority then they would be able to pull them apart without risking getting hurt myself.
Just as I went to turn around, I felt the one on top stop holding down the other.
“Hey!” she yelled, turning towards me and hopping off of her friend. “
What are you doing?”
I ignored her, focusing the camera on them as they approached me. My phone wasn’t the best when it came to filming stuff, so I tried my best to at least get a good shot of both of their faces.
Are you filming us?”
the girl on top asked. I recognized her voice as the loud-mouthed one from before.
I didn’t respond, instead keeping the camera pointed at them as they got closer and closer.
“What is thi-“
I felt a hand grip onto my wrist, quickly trying to wrestle my phone away from me, but I kept my grip firm. I twisted my body, flinging my arm around and tossing the blonde to the floor as hard as I could. I heard a satisfying thud as her head hit the floor, and a pained groan escaped her lips.
“Why you little-” she started before I cut her off.
“Shut the hell up! This is all on tape right now, so if anything happens to me or my property, then this goes straight to the principal.” I threatened, trying to look as tough as possible.
Yeah? Well what are you going to do if I punch your lights out?”
the blonde girl asked. “
You going to call the police?”
I didn’t respond, instead keeping my gaze fixed on her as she slowly got up from the floor. She glared at me with a look of pure anger, before her gaze switched to something else. I quickly glanced behind me, seeing two security guards running over to us. The rest of the students had stopped what they were doing to watch us, and it wasn’t long at all before the guards arrived.
What’s going on here?”
one of them asked.
I didn’t respond, still keeping my gaze fixed on the female bully in front of me. I could feel my heart racing, and I was barely breathing as I waited for her to try something.
“Answer him!” the blonde girl shouted, grabbing my phone and holding it up to my face. “He’s asking you a question you little home-schooled freak!”
I felt one of the security guards grab my wrist, twisting it behind my back and forcing me down to my knees. The other quickly grabbed the girl’s arm, but she managed to pull away.
“Don’t touch me!” she shouted, walking backwards and putting her hands in the air. “I don’t know why this little freak is filming me, but I don’t want anything to do with him.”
“Unfortunately for you, I saw the whole thing.” The security guard said. “You approached him first, and then you tried to take his phone from him by force.
That’s criminal offense number one.”
The blonde girl, now identified as Helena, glared at the man. She opened her mouth to say something, but quickly thought better of it and stayed silent.
“Both of you come with me, we’re going to see the principal.”
I got to my feet, and was about to follow the guard when I felt a hand grip my shoulder. I was quickly turned around, seeing the other security guard with his hand on me. His expression was stern, and almost angry looking.
“Not you.” he said. “Just her.”
My eyes widened as I saw Helena smirking at me behind the guard. The guard let go of me, pushing me away.
“Go on, get out of here.”
I felt my stomach drop as I realized what was going on. Before I could say anything, the guards had already taken Helena around the corner and out of my view. I started to go after her, but the other security guard stopped me.
Where do you think your going?”
“I need to talk to the principal.”
“Well you can wait for him here, because your not going anywhere.”
I opened my mouth to protest, but quickly realized that it was no use. The security guard was easily over six feet tall and probably weighed twice as much as I did. Arguing with him would get me nowhere, so I slunked into one of the abandoned chairs and waited.
The wait for the principal was long and stressful. No one talked to me at all, just some occasional glances out of the corner of their eye. I pretended to be busy with my phone, even though all it was doing was sitting on the dashboard.
I kept checking it every thirty seconds or so just to have something to do.
I didn’t know what to expect from the principal.
Would Helena tell him that I filmed her first? Would she lie about the whole thing?
All I knew is that I needed to act like I didn’t even know her once we got inside his office. That way, she’d have no incentive to lie about me or have me blamed for her bad actions.
I wasn’t worried about myself so much as I was worried about my mom. If I got in trouble at this school, it would be a black mark on my record. If I got in trouble again, I could very well end up in a different, worse school next year.
That was something my mom didn’t need, and it was definitely not something I wanted.
I felt myself sweating as I approached the door to the office. The sign on the door had the title ‘Principal Franklin’ written on it in sharpie marker. I raised my hand to knock, but suddenly stopped.
I could hear people arguing on the other side, and I quickly peeked through the window to see what was happening.
The first thing I saw was a heavyset man in a cheap suit loudly chewing out a skinny man in a lab coat. Principal Franklin and some other man, I guessed.
“Bud, you better start explaining yourself!” the heavyset man yelled. “You said this was going to be easy, that kids would be dying to get these scholarships!”
“William, I’m sorry.” the lab coated man, Bud, said. “I truly thought the idea would catch on, that kids would want to try to get these scholarships.”
“You thought wrong! Now the only kids who want these are the ones with criminal records, and those are the last people we want getting into college!”
The man, William, gestured to a stack of papers on Bud’s desk, and I got a better look at him. He had a thin mustache and a large, round face. His eyes were small and beady, and he was wearing a yellow tie with pink dots on it.
I didn’t know who he was, but I knew he wasn’t someone to mess with based on both his yelling and his appearance.
“These kids don’t want to submit themselves to the rigorous requirements of these scholarships,” Bud explained, in a calm voice considerably different from William’s. “So we decided to make it so they had to.”
“They didn’t have to in the first place,” William said. “That’s the point of a scholarship. If they really wanted to, they could take the classes and get the grades.
You’re telling me none of these kids are ambitious?”
Bud was silent.
“Bud, I want you to start taking these signs down, or at least change them,” William said. “If these kids are so lazy they can’t be bothered to follow the guidelines of these scholarships, then they don’t deserve to go to college.”
I took a step back from the door. I couldn’t let Bud or William find me here. If Bud found me here, it would be bad.
If William found me here, it would be worse.
I looked around for another exit, and found a set of double doors to my left. I opened the door and found myself in a long, empty hallway. There were a bunch of doors, including a set of windows to my far left, and I knew that if I walked down there, I could probably find another way back into the school.
I was about to go find Olivia and Jennifer when I heard the door behind me open up.
a voice said.
I froze. It was Jennifer’s voice.
Why was she here? Had she discovered my plan after all?
Nervously, I turned around.
Jennifer was standing just outside the door to the principal’s office, looking at me in surprise.
Why are you here?”
I opened my mouth to reply, but then I stopped. I still couldn’t tell her the truth. It had been difficult enough to lie to Olivia, and she was my friend.
“Um…,” I stalled, trying to think of an excuse.
Before I could give her one, she continued.
“It doesn’t matter. You can’t be here during business hours. This is for office use only.”
“OK,” I said.
Jennifer studied me for a moment. I’d seen her look at people like this before, as though she was trying to see if something was wrong with them. She did it to kids who came into the office who she thought had bad home lives.
Now she was doing it to me.
“You’re acting weird,” she said slowly.
I couldn’t lie to her. Not after she’d seen through me like that.
“I can’t tell you,” I said dejectedly, slouching. “It’s…it’s just really complicated.”
Jennifer asked, a concerned expression on her face. “
Was it something to do with your friend?”
I stared at her blankly.
She knew about John?
“I saw you with him at the fair,” she continued. “
The two of you were having a fight of some sort, weren’t you?”
I didn’t answer, but instead waited for her to continue.
“It’s not my business to butt into other people’s business,” she finally said. “But I just…well, if you ever need to talk to someone…”
Jennifer reached into her pocket and pulled out a small, black business card. She scribbled something on the back, and then wrote her extension on it.
“This is my extension,” she explained, handing me the card. “Only use it in case of an emergency.”
Jennifer turned and walked away from me. I stood in silence, watching as she disappeared around a corner.
I put the card into my pocket, and continued on my journey to find Olivia.
Once again, I was stopped by a teacher before I could leave the school building.
“Kira,” the chubby man panted as he jogged up to me. “I’ve been looking for you.
Is your mom here?”
“No, she had to work. She had no idea I was coming here.”
Well, did you find Olivia?”
I stared at him blankly. He couldn’t seriously think I would find her after he stole my phone and kicked me out of the school.
“Yeah, actually I did,” I answered. “But you stole my phone, so I couldn’t tell her.”
“I’m sorry about that,” he apologized. “But it’s a rule that cell phones aren’t allowed in school.
You did know that, right?”
“Yeah, I know,” I lied.
He eyed me suspiciously.
“Anyway,” he said after a pause, “just go back to class. And be more careful in the future.”
“Sure,” I said, rolling my eyes.
I turned and walked back to class. I had spent so much time trying to find Olivia that I was now really late. I hurried to my seat just as the tardy bell rang.
The rest of the school day passed by in a blur. I couldn’t focus on anything that went on in class, as I was far too worried about when Olivia would go back in time. If she was going to do it at all.
What if she’d decided not to?
What if Jennifer had seen through my lies and she’d already told Mr.
Erskine about the note? Would they come and arrest me? Or would they take me to a mental asylum instead?
I waited for the final bell to ring, my heart pounding in my chest as I imagined all the possibilities that could happen.
What if Olivia showed up in front of my house? What if she came to my bus stop? What if she was in the park when I went off it?
But Olivia never did appear. The school day came to an end, and I stood from my desk. I slung my bag over my shoulder and walked out of the room, heading straight towards the exit.
I turned my head to see Olivia jogging up to me. She looked incredibly out of breath, as if she’d been running after me.
“Hey,” she panted. “
Have you been waiting here for me this whole time?”
I hadn’t even noticed her absence from my class. I’d been too busy watching the clock, constantly glancing at it to see how much time had passed.
“Yeah,” I admitted. “
Did you go back in time?”
“No,” she frowned. “
Why? Do you want me to?”
“No!” I said a little too quickly, shaking my head. “I mean, if you want to that’s fine, but it would sort of defeat the point if you didn’t.”
So…what did you do?”
she asked curiously.
“Nothing much,” I lied.
I wasn’t about to tell her I’d gone to her school and told her mom she was skipping school, especially not after she said she didn’t want me to do that.
“Oh,” she said, a little disappointed. “I kinda thought you’d tell me something interesting. Like you kissed a boy or something.”
“No way!” I said in shock, before immediately realizing that would be something I would’ve told my old best friends.
“Well, I might’ve,” she said, sounding unsure. “I mean, we were at Kelsey’s party and he leaned in to kiss me, but I stopped him.
Was that the right thing to do?
I mean, I barely know him.”
I bit my lip, trying to hide a smile.
Was Olivia actually asking me for romantic advice?
“Yeah,” I said sagely. “You don’t want to just make out with anyone. You should only kiss someone if you really love them.”
“Oh,” she said, her cheeks reddening. “
Is that how it is for you and Mason?”
“I don’t think so,” I admitted. “I mean, he’s never told me he loves me, but I really like him. We’re going to the fall dance together as friends.”
Figuring the subject had gotten too personal, I quickly said, “Well I’d better get home. See ya later.”
I waved at Olivia as I started walking towards my house, knowing she’d head towards the bus stop. I was glad to know that telling the truth seemed to work. If I kept this up, maybe I could convince her to go back in time for real.
Sure, maybe it would end up with me not being friends with her anymore, but at least she wouldn’t be skipping school all the time and she might not get arrested for stealing that car. She probably wouldn’t need to worry about her mother either.
As I walked home, I couldn’t help but look at everyone around me and wonder what their stories were. Everyone looked so normal and basic, like they weren’t living extraordinary lives like the girl in my class was. Maybe I should’ve been a writer instead, because the world could certainly use more stories.
My phone buzzed in my pocket, and I took it out to see a message from Lucy.
Lucy- hey, where r u?
You left class early.
Me- had 2 go 2 the bathroom.
I sighed, wondering if I should tell her the truth or not. Maybe I could tell her that I wanted to find Olivia so she wouldn’t worry. Or maybe I should just keep my mouth shut.
I decided on the latter.
Me- Don’t worry, I’m fine. See you in Spanish 2morrow.
I shoved my phone back into my pocket, hoping I’d made the right decision.
Me- So, how was work?
Olivia- It was okay, I guess.
Me- How was school?
Olivia- It was fine, I guess.
That’s how our conversations have been for the past few days. Olivia’s always so apathetic towards me now, and it’s breaking my heart. I’ve been trying to get her to open up to me more, but she hardly ever does.
She said she doesn’t want to bring me down with her problems. If only she knew that I’m already doing that to myself.
Me- So you haven’t gotten in any more fights at school?
Olivia- No, but that’s probably because I’ve been skipping it a lot.
Me- Haven’t the cops come to your house yet?
Olivia- Nope, they probably don’t even know.
I bite my lip as I try to think of a way to convince her to go back to school.
Me- So what are you gonna do for fall break?
Olivia- Probably nothing, I don’t have any friends to do anything with.
Me- You could always come over and we could hang out or something.
Olivia- Like what?
All you ever do is sit inside and play on your computer.
Me- That’s not true! I also walk around the neighborhood and take long strolls through the city!
Olivia- Ha ha, very funny.
Me- You could also come over and we could do something crazy and wild like watch a movie.
Olivia- …Shut up.
Me- So are you coming over tomorrow?
Olivia- Yeah, I’ll be over after I sleep in and skip school. Later Grace.
Me- See ya later Olivia.
I let out a long sigh as I put my phone down. Maybe I could somehow trick her into going to school, but I doubt it. Or maybe I could convince her to skip the city and live elsewhere.
But where would she go?
She’d need a completely new identity if she moved somewhere else.
If only there was some sort of clue in her room that could help me figure out the truth.
Sources & references used in this article:
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- She’s a Beast: A Critical Analysis of the “Ideal” Woman CrossFitter in Fittest on Earth and Road to the Games (S Neufeld – 2019 – opus.uleth.ca)
- Crossfit: lo Sport del Fitness-Oltre i Tradizionali Metodi (P Morosini – 2014 – tesionline.it)
- THE EFFECT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON PURCHASING OF SPORTING GOODS (JV HOFBAUER – elearning.unyp.cz)
- Využití Crossfitu v kondiční přípravě juniorských hokejistů (J Drda – 2020 – dspace.cuni.cz)
- The lumbar spine (HN Herkowitz – 2004 – books.google.com)