When Carlie Stone was a teenager, she called the basketball court home.
If her parents weren’t busy working, they were busy fighting, leaving Stone and her sister to play parent to each other. Her relationship with her parents declined even further after their divorce when she was 11, and she coped on the court.
“I felt like other than the fact that I had a house to go home to, I was on my own,” she said. “I got really involved in school and athletics because it was something to call home.”
Today, Stone has a home of her own. She calls it CrossFit Unscathed, and she opened its doors just a month before qualifying for the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games California Regional, taking 10th place in Southern California with two top-20 finishes and ranking just two spots below four-time CrossFit Games athlete Valerie Voboril.
“Growing up [without] having that nurturing aspect in my life made me want to give it to others,” she said.
This year won’t be her first competing on the Regional floor. After starting CrossFit in 2010, Stone went on to qualify for the SoCal Regional in 2012, 2013 and 2014, finishing in the top 15 each year. This year, she’s going for top five and a trip to the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games.
“I think with the transition of having my own gym, making my own schedule and being surrounded by people who genuinely support me, I feel like if any year, this is the year to do it, she said.
Filling The Void
Stone discovered CrossFit in the summer of 2010. Working with troubled youth and studying to become a police officer, she longed to fill the competitive void college basketball had left after graduation. But she didn’t think the answer was CrossFit.
“I assumed it was similar to a Jazzercise thing,” she said, recalling her thoughts after hearing a friend describe CrossFit.
“I was sold,” Stone said. “I signed up that day.”
Her basketball training gave her a head start on strength, and she started CrossFit with a 175-pound bench press and a 200-pound back squat. Just a month into CrossFit, she deadlifted 315 pounds. But it wasn’t until a local competition in December of that year, where she deadlifted 350 pounds — the same weight as Kristan Clever, who had won the CrossFit Games just a few months before — that Stone began to think of a future in competitive CrossFit.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is something I really think I can do,’” she remembered. “‘I would love to make it to the Games.’”
In 2011, Stone’s first Open, she placed 61st in SoCal. The next year, she improved her rank by 40 places, taking 27th in the Open and 12th in her Regional debut, following it with eighth- and 10th-place Regional finishes in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
There was no doubt she was strong. But the glaring hole in her game, she admitted, was gymnastics. At the SoCal Regional last year, she was reduced to singles on the set of seven muscle-ups in Nasty Girls V2 and remembers vividly her struggle with Open Workout 14.2, an ascending ladder of overhead squats and chest-to-bar pull-ups. She took 44th in that workout, her worst Open finish since 2012.
“It was awful,” she recalled. “I did all my overhead squats unbroken, and very early on, I went to singles on the pull-ups. If you don’t have [the butterfly pull-up], you really struggle, and I didn’t have butterfly.”
“I decided I was really sick of having the same weakness,” she added.
So she worked, looking to athletes like 2013 CrossFit Games champion Samantha Briggs and three-time CrossFit Games athlete Lindsey Valenzuela as models for discipline.
“That’s the approach I took this year,” Stone said. “I tried to think, What makes [Briggs and Valenzuela] good? It’s not necessarily that they’re the best at gymnastics.”
Receiving remote coaching and programming from Cory Capella of Pariah CrossFit in Oceanside, California, Stone has spent the past year hitting the rings, the rig and the wall, developing her butterfly pull-up and working every-minute-on-the-minute sessions for ring dips, muscle-ups and handstand push-ups.
Her efforts paid off with an 11th-place finish and a 78-rep improvement on Open Workout 15.2, a repeat of 14.2.
“It was super ironic; it blew my mind,” she said.
Now, 25 pounds lighter than last year, Stone can string multiple muscle-ups together — and she can still deadlift 400 pounds, snatch 170 pounds and clean-and-jerk 215 pounds.
“This is the first year I’m going into Regionals saying, ‘Bring it on,’” she said. “This year I’m not going in fearful.”
Today, Stone splits her time between training for the California Regional in May and training her new athletes, the family she never had. Her biggest motivation for competing, she said, is being an example to others that hard work pays off.
“I feel like everything you get in life you should earn or work for, and I think that being a really good athlete and working for that changes the way people perceive you,” she said. “Being an underdog and coming from nothing, it helps and inspires them. There’s something about just working for something.”