The Open is Upon Us — Young and Old


The other day one of my fellow CrossFitters asked, “So are you ready for the Open this year?”

Without hesitation, and to my surprise, I replied, “Yes, actually I am ready for the Open.”

At almost 40, it’s hard to know the true answer because the Open itself is a mystery. How can you know if you are really ready for something that you know nothing about? All I am certain about is that I am stronger and fitter than I was a year ago and I feel more prepared and confident having completed and submitted all my results in 2013.

For the CrossFit community, the Open each year is such an amazing time. I was in awe of the set up last year in terms of the pageantry of presenting the workouts live with some of the top CrossFit legends learning the workouts, performing them and then turning to the camera and saying “Okay world, now it’s your turn.”

The Open brings out so many people from different walks of life and backgrounds every year. One person who can’t do the Open, but will do the workouts is 13-year-old Kindelle Schmulbach. Kindelle, from CrossFit Eject in Springfield, IL, is no stranger to competing, having squared off against competitors more than twice her age since she was 12. Kindelle can’t do the Open because the official CrossFit Games rule book states that a competitor must be at least 14 years old by the time they create an account for the Open. Kindelle won’t be 14 until later this year. But she’s still excited to do all the Open workouts for the first time and see how her scores stack up against the best in her region (the North Central) and the other CrossFit elite around the world.

Although some would argue that the reason she isn’t allowed to submit scores is because she’s “too young,” her coach Chris Schmulbach disagrees.

“I’ve been training kids as young as 4 years old in motocross for years. Also if the coaching is good and the parents and athletes are keeping an eye on the volume, then age doesn’t matter. If they can do the work and handle the training, it’s not important how old they are. The coaches just need to be careful and involved and make sure they are doing things the right way,” Coach Schmulbach says.

Although she’s young and relatively new to CrossFit (just six months of training) she has pretty impressive numbers for a 13-year-old rookie. Kindelle has personal records (PRs) of a 138-pound clean, a clean and jerk max of 128 pounds., back squat at 178 pounds., 88-pound snatch and can deadlift 203 pounds.

Like Coach Schmulbach, I would tend to agree that if she can do the work, she should be able to compete. The beauty of CrossFit and the Open is that she’ll be able to do every rep of every weight and movement just like the Games and Regional athletes. Even if her scores don’t officially count, Kindelle loves to compete and she knows doing the workouts for this Open will only make her better for next year when she gets to do it for real.

“I really have no big expectations. CrossFit is really fun. My shoulders are kind of weak so chest to bar pull-ups and snatch and overhead squats are hard for me, but I like to train. I think I can do okay against other girls my age. But the Open will be fun, too,” Kindelle says.

In addition to the Open, Kindelle traveled to Columbus, Ohio, this weekend to compete in the Arnold Classic. There, she’ll test her strength and skills against girls her own age and again learn what she excels at as well as areas to improve upon.

So as the eyes of CrossFit turn from thousands of individual boxes in to regions around the world sharing a common programming bond for five weeks, we can’t help but swell with anticipation and eagerness as February 27 comes and goes and we finally unwrap our first holiday present from Santa Castro . . . 14.1.

Best of luck to Kindelle and all you Grinders out there, I’ll be looking for you on the Leaderboard.

Stay on the Grind.

Jamie Toland (JTol)