Open Workout 15.4 was an 8-minute couplet of power cleans and handstand push-ups. It was the first workout I ever did at Potomac CrossFit. I had come in on the Saturday morning of the 4th week of the Open in 2015 to meet Brian and Maria, our former owner and the former head coach, respectively. I was trying to convince each of them that I wasn’t utterly useless and might be able to stumble my way through coaching some classes for them. That was the morning I met The Dan Smith; we judged each other during the workout and he and I have been friends ever since.
Though it was the first morning I had stepped foot inside Potomac, truth be told, it was not my first exposure to the PCF community. I saw this video in 2012 and this one a year later, both highlighting the CrossFit for Hope event on the National Mall. I knew, even then, what Brian was doing at PCF was pretty special and I had thought, rather nebulously, “Man, it would be cool to be part of that community some day.”
In 2014 I met Aaron Kozuki at Regionals while we were both judging athletes. We were lucky to have a good amount of time to chat between heats and, again, I was convinced that what was going on at PCF was something I wanted to experience for myself.
A few months later, Brian Wilson posted on Facebook a job opening for a Head Coach job at Patriot CrossFit. I hadn’t planned on applying as I didn’t think I was nearly good enough of a coach to even bother. My wife, always the one to push me and ensure I’m challenging myself, encouraged me to go after it. “What’s the worst that could happen? They say ‘no’?”
So I applied. I had an interview with Erika and Brian, and a little later I came in to coach a class at Patriot on a Wednesday evening.
Brian didn’t hire me.
Brian asked if I would be willing to coach Saturdays at his other gym, Potomac CrossFit, for awhile until the head coach job opened up there. He anticipated that his then-current head coach, Maria, would be moving to California once her husband was stationed there, and he’d like to have me waiting on deck. So that’s what I did for about a year.
In the Spring of 2016 he asked me take over as Director of Ops and Training at Potomac CrossFit.
At the age of 29 I had been offered my dream job. Every afternoon I drove up from Woodbridge to hang out with and coach some amazing people. I had the privilege of working with Dan, Brian Foley, Clee, Ravi, Chris and Monica Donahoe (not married at the time of our original meeting), Heidi and Bobby, Meghan Molly and Elisa Gibson, Beth Farrell, Jeff Dramstad, Ben and Laura, Doors and Nina, and countless others. Later I had the honor of meeting and coaching Ben and Ting, Shan, Luis Salazar, Tim Everhart, Dallas Woodrum, Ellin O’Brien, Mary Ann Klimas, and John Pribnow. In my time here I’ve had the pleasure of watching and learning from some amazing coaches: Tom Szymanski, Tyler Murphy, Mike and Brittney Savitch, Dillon, Aaron, and Big Cat… this list could and should go on for awhile.
In every sense of the phrase, I had made it.
Potomac CrossFit, this place that popped up on my radar in the Spring of 2012, had become my second home a few short years later. All of my friends are here. My second family is here. My heart and soul have been poured into this place, and it has paid me back ten-fold. I’ve PR’d here. I’ve watched many, many others set and break PRs here. I’ve hugged it out here, cried a little bit here, laughed my ass off here, and sweat a little bit from time to time.
There is nothing I could ever do to thank and repay you all for letting me be a part of your life over these past few years. I cannot express how much I have enjoyed the process and how much I will miss each of you.
Potomac closing its doors for the final time has been one of the harder things I’ve had to grapple with in my adult life. However, the libertarian and capitalist in me knows the economics of it are hard to argue with, and it is the way things go sometimes. The market giveth, and the market taketh.
This not just a gym closing, we all know that. Out of these tough times I know some great things are sure to come. Those positives, those triumphs, will come in many different forms and manifest themselves in different ways for each of us. But, just like in the midst of the round of 15 in Fran, we need to stay positive. Things may suck in the moment, but keep plugging away and you’ll be on the round of 9 before you know it.
I care deeply for each of you, and I hope you all stay in touch and come drop in for a class with me at District when you have the chance. You have all given me so much, and probably way more than you realize.
For those of you headed to Patriot, I’m a little jealous. I’m jealous that Jack, and Gretchen, and Britt, and all of their coaches get to have you now. I’m also jealous of you in that you get to have such incredible trainers taking care of you. You will be in far better care under their tutelage, and I have no doubt you will continue to grow and progress and make gains.
Good luck to each of you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.