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Inspiring Grinders: An Evening with Stacie Tovar


Inspiration can be derived from countless sources throughout a person’s life. What inspires you depends on who you are and what things you are looking for on your journey. People, both what they represent and what they have accomplished, are often a source of inspiration. For everyday athletes, those who make it to the big time are often looked to for inspiration.

In the CrossFit community, one needs to look no further than our CrossFit Games athletes. The “carrot” that dangles before all CrossFit athletes is that every one of us has a shot at making the Games (whether or not this is realistic depends on the athlete). As I’ve stated in previous articles, you can’t just sign up for NHL, NFL or MLB tryouts and show up with a chance to make the pros. CrossFit gives each member exactly that, a chance to register and roll the physical fitness dice. The prizes will vary. For some, just a chance to compete in the Open and finish all five workouts is enough. Others compete within their box for scores and times. Some reach the level of the Regional individual or team athlete. Then there are those few, the true elite, who get to live the dream and show what they’ve got at the CrossFit Games.

Stacie Tovar has reached this level, time and time again.

Some lucky CrossFit grinders in Central Illinois got to hear Tovar speak at a local competition at CrossFit Enhance in Decatur, Ill. The event, titled the D-Town Throwdown, took place over a Saturday and Sunday, and Tovar was on-hand to address the participants as well as mingle with the athletes over the span of the two-day event. Being a former face in the crowd herself, Tovar doesn’t underestimate the significance of being able to meet inspirational athletes.

She hasn’t always been a CrossFit icon, and even now as a repeat Games competitor and serious contender for the podium in Carsen City, Tovar knows the significance of sharing her story with the CrossFit community at events like these.

“It means the absolute world. CrossFit means community to me,” Tovar says of her chance to be at the event and address the athletes. “I absolutely love being a part of opportunities like these, and I am so humbled to be here, to meet all these wonderful CrossFitters and share my time with them!”

John Ridley of CrossFit Enhance and Decatur Memorial Hospital spearheaded bringing Tovar to the event. Ridley understands that having her there is more than a celebrity touch. “Having an elite Games athlete offers value added to our local community and helps to legitimize the sport and the experience of our event,” he says.

Head trainer and head judge for the Throwdown, Josh Newton echoes Ridley’s sentiment. “In no other sport could you just call up a professional athlete and say, ‘Would you come down and talk to your fans and hang out at our event?’ That’s one of the things that makes CrossFit so special and unique. Even the top athletes will take time to hang out with the regular and beginners at a local competition,” he says.

Tovar did just that. She was on-hand, speaking to the local athletes, getting pictures taken, giving autographs and even listening to people’s CrossFit stories. She was every bit the gracious ambassador she was advertised to be. While addressing the audience during Friday night’s check-in, she recapped her tale of being a small-town Nebraska girl who went to college on a volleyball scholarship before being begged by her husband to begin CrossFit training.

“I have great respect for first-time competitors like you all,” Tovar said to the crowd. “There is such an intimidation factor during your first competition, but it was such a crucial first step in my development as a CrossFitter. For each of you, taking the first step to compete is not only going to make you a better person, but it’s going to make you better as a CrossFit athlete.”

The main message I took away from Tovar’s address was what she does to psyche herself up before competing. “It’s very simple,” she explained. “I always tell myself two things: You know it’s gonna suck, you know it’s gonna hurt. Once I tell myself those two things and I remember them, I just get to it and do the work.”

Beyond the message and adding value to the event, Tovar had some tips for the CrossFit locals to take with them to help with their day-to-day training:

* Journal everything from sleep to food to times and results.

* Write down which rep you took a break on and in which set.

* Keep track of the length of breaks you take and how you can manage them better next time.

* Learn which diet plan works best for you and adapt it to your needs, not your wants.

Hearing Tovar talk about these things and watching the crowd, I could tell that this was definitely a special moment. The significance of this interaction is certainly not limited to Central Illinois audience members. Tovar explains how much doing events like this one means to her, as well: “For me it’s all about the community. I love to just go out and meet the people and be with everyone walking around and talking about CrossFit and their lives. It’s so important to remember that all of us are part of the community and I have to be thankful to help out where I can.”

Those who spent time with Stacie Tovar, as I was able to, are the ones who really understand what it is to be lucky and to be inspired by such a genuine and special individual.

What does the fact that even the most elite athletes remain accessible to the community at large mean to you and to the sport of CrossFit? Let me know your thoughts at jtolgrinder @

Stay on the grind.

— Jamie Toland (JTol)