Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fitness a big part of Stephanie Millerís life

Athlete credits CrossFitís challenges

Cups and Bras softball catcher Stephanie Miller, enjoying the Hailey Coed Softball League tournament at Lions Park Aug. 9, has competed at the highest level of CrossFit team competi-tion this summer. Photo by Willy Cook

     Who says slow-pitch softball players aren’t physically fit?

     Not anyone who has played with Hailey Coed Softball League catcher Stephanie Miller of the Cups and Bras team.

     She is one of the top CrossFit athletes in Idaho and, as of late July, she’s among the best of an estimated 10,000 CrossFitters in the U.S.

     Miller, 28, originally from Michigan and now a three-year Hailey resident, is Programs Director of the Blaine County Community Drug Coalition. She started CrossFit training for the first time shortly after moving to Hailey in Nov. 2011.

     She trains predominantly at Boulder Mountain CrossFit in Hailey. It’s one of three Wood River Valley CrossFit facilities that teach the varied, high-intensity Cross-Fit workouts along with KDR at Hailey’s Bigwood Fitness, and Sun Valley CrossFit in Ketchum.

     This year, Miller wanted to take her general fitness program to the next level by joining Boise CrossFit to become more competitive in a sport that is growing leaps and bounds across the country.

     She said, “I wanted to train hard for one year and see where it got me.”

     In late July, she was one of six members of the Boise CrossFit team that came from nowhere and finished eighth of 42 teams in the national Reebok CrossFit Games at Carson, Ca. that were televised by ESPN.

     Entering a competition that since 2007 has brought together the “Fittest on Earth,” according to CrossFit terminology, the Boise CrossFit team had been ranked 40th of the 42 teams entering nationals.

     “We really came together as a team,” said Miller. “So much of it plays into the team dynamic. We didn’t expect to be where we finished. We even won an event at nationals—the team chipper—with its rowing, sit-ups, wall balls and box jumps.”

     Miller’s Boise CrossFit teammates coached by Chazz Rudolph were Amber Gregg, Amy Glass, Caleb Cazier, Cameron Pernich and Bart Carrico. Teams at nationals had three males and females.

     “Our amazing coach Chazz Rudolf programmed all of our nasty workouts to prepare us for our competitions,” she said.

     Qualifying for “The Games” national meet July 25 in southern California was a three-stage process that started in March and April with “The Open,” a worldwide, five-week competition.

     “The idea is to build strength and stamina and become well-rounded in all variations of fitness,” said Miller, who competed in “The Open” for the first time in 2013, without advancing further.

     Miller’s challenging standard, benchmark workouts make up her “Athlete Profile.”

     For instance, her “Fran” workout, named for a female, consisted of 21-15-9 repetitions of thrusters and pull-ups. She started out doing the workout in four minutes and 37 seconds. Now she does it in 3:20.

     She has run 5 kilometers in 22 minutes. Her profile states that she has done a 165-pound clean-and-jerk, a 130-pound snatch, 310-pound dead lift and 225 back squat. She has done 150 wall balls for time.

     “Overall strength is one of my best qualities,” Miller said. “I can muscle up on the rings, one of the more challenging moves, and do the butterfly pull-ups. They come natural for me.”

     Miller, this year competing with Boise CrossFit, qualified with her team for “The Regionals” in May at Seattle, Wash. Only the top athletes from “The Open” in each of 17 regions worldwide made “Regionals.”

     She said about the three-day live competition, “Seattle was so emotional for me. I’d never been in a competition like that, and there were plenty of ups-and-downs. I was super nervous and actually got the flu afterwards. It was all super exciting, and super scary.”

     Nevertheless, Boise CrossFit placed third of 30 teams in the Northwest regional competition at Seattle and qualified as one of the top three teams from the region for “The Games.”

     Because of the team’s very low seeding, Miller said there were no expectations for Boise CrossFit at nationals. The national meet prides itself as a fair test of fitness because it offers the unknown and unknowable. Its challenges tend to be last-minute surprises.

     Good attitudes helped Boise CrossFit in California, she said. “After regionals, I wanted The Games to be more fun than scary, so I tried to make the mental adjustments. We were committed to enjoying ourselves and meeting every test as best as we could.”

     After finishing college at Michigan State, Miller came west to work for The School of Urban and Wilderness Survival (SUWS) in the Gooding/Shoshone area. From there, she moved to Hailey.

     Now, in her Drug Coalition program duties, she said she is introducing middle school youth to CrossFit several times a week at Boulder Mountain Fitness.

     Miller is competing as an individual in the third annual Crosstown Throwdown competition presented by CrossFit Station that wraps up Saturday, Aug. 23 with a final live event in Eagle near Boise.

     The competition series for Boise-area CrossFitters started July 27 with online workouts posted each Sunday for three weeks. Athletes had from Sunday to the following Saturday to complete and submit results. They competed generally unassisted or unscaled (Rx Division), with assistance or with scaling (Modified), or in two Masters classes.

     Miller said she had placed third in her division after two of the three workouts, with the top 15 eligible for Saturday’s live event in Eagle.

     She has learned plenty about herself with CrossFit. What she has noticed mostly is what she called “a change in my mental health.”

     “I tend to struggle when it hurts physically and I slow down,” she said. “I’ve always defined myself as an athlete, but I’ve found it almost damaging to me to put so much pressure on myself to get better. So I’ve had to work to control myself and my thoughts internally.

     “You’re always fighting against yourself, but I’ve found the CrossFit community is so supportive. We all have our weaknesses. You just need to have humility and it certainly forces you to have it.

     “And I’ve found it’s about enjoying what you do and enjoying the people you meet. Sure, it’s about getting better. But I’ve found that life is what you make it.”




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