Sometimes in life, all a person needs is a chance to prove what they can do. Teen athletes will get that opportunity in the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games Open with the emergence of the Teenage division, which is for athletes who are between 14 and 17 years old as of the close of score submissions for Open Workout 15.1.
Louisiana’s Matt Cole realizes what this opportunity could mean for teen athletes like him. Despite playing football since the age of 10, Cole made the decision to give it up in order to dedicate more time to CrossFit training.
“I think CrossFit can open a lot of doors,” the 16-year-old said. “There are already so many high school football athletes. I feel like I have a future in competing at CrossFit. I’d like to try to win this new Teen division.”
This Hurricane CrossFit athlete believes he has just as good a chance as any teen. Based on Cole’s 2014 scores, he would have finished sixth in the worldwide standings in his division. In reality, he finished in 1,032nd place in South Central — 980 spots away from qualifying for Regionals.
“Unless you were some kind of ‘man child’ of a teenager, the chances of you being able to make it to Regionals were very slim,” he said. “So basically, the Open was kind of a dead end for most of us young athletes, and we knew that. Now we have a chance to compete against each other.”
Competing this year against other athletes his age isn’t the only thing in Cole’s sights.
“I want to do the Teenage division this year and next year and try to win or at least do well,” he said. “After that, I want to make Regionals. Those are my goals.”
Kindelle Schmulbach of CrossFit Eject, in Springfield, Illinois, is eager to get the chance to showcase her strength. Schmulbach (now 14) was ready to do the Open in 2014, until she found out, at only 13, she was too young to compete.
“I just wanted to see my scores up there with other people to find out where I was at [competitively],” she said. “I wasn’t trying to make it to Regionals or anything; I just wanted to be able to do [the Open] for real like everyone else.”
Disappointed but determined, Schmulbach turned her efforts on weaknesses such as double-unders and pull-ups. She also posted an increase in her Olympic lifts, jumping from a 123-pound clean to a 163-pound clean and an 88-pound snatch to a 128-pound snatch.
Last March, she competed in the Arnold Sports Festival where she placed second overall in her age group. Schmulbach also surprised her family and friends by making the local junior high football team … as an offensive lineman.
“I like to try new things now,” she said. “The Teen division is going to be fun. I’m ready to see how I can do and find out what things I need to work on when the Open is over.”
Oklahoma sisters Sydney (14) and Meredith Sullivan (16) from CrossFit T-Town South in Tulsa, Oklahoma, rarely get to compare their scores against teenage girls, unless it’s each other.
“We didn’t have a CrossFit Kids class when we started two years ago,” Sydney said. “We just started with the regular adult classes.”
With the addition of the Teen division to the Open, each girl can test abilities against female athletes their own age.
“I think we can both do well in this new division. I’ll do my best, but I just know Sydney will do great against other 14- and 15-year-old girls,” Meredith said of her younger sister.
While it could be these two who inspire future teen athletes to compete in the Open, the Sullivans both list Games’ athletes Lauren Fisher and Annie Thorisdottir as their CrossFit role models. They credit a trip to the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games as their inspiration to register for the Teen division this year.
“Seeing Fisher and Thorisdottir compete last summer was so great,” Sydney said. “[Meredith and I] would love to do that someday, too. I guess it starts with the Open this year.”
Even though most of the Teen division athletes were in elementary school when the inaugural CrossFit Open took place in 2011, they are now the ones paving the way for future generations.
What do you think about the new Teen and Scaled divisions?
Stay on the Grind.