Athlete Spotlight 2 For 1!
Dena Ali and Todd Nunn
Athlete Spotlight: Dena Ali & Todd Nunn
This month we will have a double spotlight, kind of like the double mint twins, except for one is 6’4” ex-football player and the other is an avid fitness enthusiast that just finished her THIRD half Iron Man! We have some stellar athletes here at 12th State CrossFit and these two are a great sample of the amazing people we have training inside our gym!
Fun Fact: Both of these athletes are Founders of 12th State and they have both been here since Day 1. Thank you for your dedication to 12th State!
Well since we do pride ourselves on having an awesome family of polite and courteous athletes, we will give Dena the honors of going first in our Athlete Spotlight with Todd’s spotlight answers to follow after.
Both of these athletes have been doing CrossFit for well over a year now and they have some stories to share with you about their CrossFit journey.
- Hometown and Profession:
Dena (D): I was born and raised in Raleigh (actually just around the corner from 12th state!) I even went to Joyner Elementary! I am currently a Raleigh Firefighter, along with my fellow 12th State Athletes; Aaron, Michelle, Daniel, Kelly, and Chris!
Todd (T): I am from Goldsboro, NC and I am currently a nursing home operator.
- How did you find out about 12th State and when did you start?
(D) I used to workout at another gym and my favorite coach left there, it was pretty depressing because he was my favorite coach. He pushed me to be better…..and always showed me ways to improve. However, the weirdest thing happened, when he left, Coach Cliff started teaching and had the exact same coaching techniques. No matter what kind of day I was having, Cliff always made me smile and he always pushed me to give my all during the work out. Upon hearing about Cliff leaving to open up his own gym, I immediately emailed Cliff to get started! I would follow Cliff, Mollie, Dale and Brian to just about anywhere!
(T) My Company relocated about the same time 12th State opened up and I have been there since Day 1!
- What was your fitness regimen before 12th State and how has it changed since joining?
(D) Before joining 12th state, I worked out at another CrossFit so things have not changed much. However, I love that 12th state is a community and I enjoy being a part of the team as a whole!
(T) I started CrossFit in August of 2012 and was hooked from day 1. I had a 10 year period post college where I would drift in and out of exercise but never found anything that I could stick with. I would always lose interest in whatever I was trying or just get bored from monotonous workout regiment. The competition and continual challenge that CrossFit creates is a very motivating force. I love getting up every morning knowing I get to compete with someone whether it is a fellow crossfitter or previous score of my own.
- How was the 2015 Open?
(D) It went well. I wish I could do muscle ups, but who knows, maybe one day! I know I have some things I need to improve on that will hopefully lead me to being 100% RX. This year’s open went well for me though. I was excited to see PR’s. One of the workouts was a repeat from last year, OHS and C2B. This one killed me mentally last year because I did not get to the second round. My arms failed and I could not do any more C2B. This year, I hit a major PR on that work out! I made it to the third round, I was so proud! 15.5 was also a great WOD for me. I guess I was so frustrated by things like muscle ups and handstand pushups that when I realized the WOD was just rowing and thrusters, I simply gave it my all and ended up in the top 100 in the Mid-Atlantic!
(T) Humbling… This was my third open that I have been a part of and I was really looking forward to it as all the movements that hindered me in years past I was much more proficient at. And then they toss in muscle ups and hspu…. That was my first attempt at a muscle up. I was always scared I would lose an arm trying. I was closer than I thought to getting one and feel it is only a matter of time before I do. I had never completed a full hspu until the open I was not expecting to get one but managed to get 7 I think. Long arms were great for basketball but not an advantage for that movement…
- Have you achieved any goals that you set for yourself when you started CrossFit?
(D) Oh, several! I remember when I started CrossFit, I would not even come in on Snatch days or Clean and Jerk days, but I have hit serious PRs on both and have been constantly improving my HSPUs and pullups.
(T) Mobility has always been a struggle and When I first started I could not overhead squat the bar or even really do an air squat below parallel. In the 2013 open I could not thruster 100 pounds. I am finally a getting close to butterflying pull-ups which was something I did not know if I could ever do. All gymnastic movements have been a struggle but I have made significant improvement in the last 6 months!
- Have you set any new goals since starting that you never thought you would have set? (Weightlifting goals, Pull-ups, etc….)
(D) Right now, my goals are to get a muscle up and be able to do pistols. These are things I never thought were possible, but I know with a few changes (drop a little weight), Ill be able to do them. That’s the thing I love most about CrossFit. When you first start, you see other athletes doing things that you doubt you can ever do, then all of the sudden you are doing those things. I remember first trying to do double unders, I really thought I would never be able to do one. I thought the people who could were just talented and then all of the sudden, one day, I was able to do 30 unbroken!
(T) Yes. Movements that I always said I would not be able to do. Muscle ups, pistols, butterfly pull-ups, hand stand push-ups really all gymnastic movements. I still need to work on leg strength this past squat cycle was the first time in three years that I have been able to complete one. I can tell a big difference in my workouts thank to the increased leg strength since squatting that much over a 10 week period.
Closing comments from these two Stud Athletes!
(D) I love 12th State and the 12th State Family….I am so happy they (Mollie, Dale, Brian, Hannah, and Cliff) have brought this friendliness to a fierce competitive gym.!
(T) Like many folks the first time I walked into a CrossFit gym I was intimidated. Most the guys were in phenomenal shape and were shirtless. It was in July and in the afternoon…. I actually did not join then I just left and thought it was not for me. A month or so later I went again and signed up for a 30 day trial and have not looked back. The community and environment that CrossFit creates is unlike anything else. So for anyone just getting started the weight does not matter or the time it takes to complete a workout do not matter just finish and come back and the rest will come with hard work!
A big thank you to Todd and Dena for their continued support at 12th State and also for them just being all around awesome people!
Athlete Spotlight - Debbie Hill
If you are new to CrossFit and Debbie’s story inspires you, please feel free to reach out to Coach Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our page here: “CROSSFIT 101”
A note from Coach Cliff:
Debbie may be one of the most impressive athletes I have ever seen, she is so naturally gifted physically as a mover but also mentally as a competitor. Even as the self-professed “least competitive” person in the gym, she will be the first one to put a target on your back during a 400m interval and pass you up, while pushing her daughter Ada in her stroller. No seriously, I am pretty sure she completed a sub- 15 min “Nancy” while pushing Ada for all (5) 400m runs.
Even with all of this talk about being very competitive she is probably the most humble person I know. Debbie is a staple point in our community at 12th State, she is a great role model for all of our athletes at 12th State and is someone that all of the ladies and gentleman look up to at 12th State. I am so happy that when we opened 12th State Debbie decided to join us, I knew she would be a great ambassador for the gym but more importantly she is just fun to be around. I know I speak for everyone at 12th State when I say, thank you for making every workout you attend fun and competitive.
A little about Debbie:
Debbie (40) of Naperville, IL, is a recently retired Cosmetologist, and a full-time wife and mother of 3! (Chris- Husband) (Kiddos: Keller- 10, Kristian- 7, Ada- 4). Debbie always finds away to make time for a workout or two even with her busy schedule, even if it means the kiddos come along for the ride with her, literally… Debbie, can be seen pushing her youngest Ada during any running workout at the gym. Her oldest (Keller), enjoys getting to play on the ropes while he is at the gym, and her middle (Kristian) can be found on the rig between classes! Debbie and Chris frequent the evening classes together when they can and it is always great to see all of the Hills in the gym together working out for the fun of working out.
Debbie started CrossFit a little over 3-years ago when Ada was 9 months old, her husband Chris works for Merrill downtown and saw people running laps at lunch, so he tried it and told Debbie she would love it. After that Debbie has enjoyed her time CrossFitting, even though when she started she was definitely hesitant because of the Olympic Lifting, she had never been a huge fan of it in college. She has since warmed up to the lifts, but would definitely rather be out running or doing wall-balls as those are some of her favorite movements. Even thought she was more worried about the Olympic Lifts coming into CrossFit, everyone knows what Debbie’s least favorite movement is…Let’s just say if “Annie” (double-unders and sit-ups) is programmed you will not see Debbie in the gym that day.
Debbie the Competitor:
While Debbie is definitely not in the gym to be the CrossFit Games “Fittest in the World” She has the chance to claim that title this year in her 40-44 year-old Masters category. Check out the following link to find out more about the CrossFit Games Masters Division . Her performance in this years Open has landed her in 109th place after 5 grueling workouts from the Open. That was out of 6,152 athletes, TOP-3% in the WORLD!!
Debbie’s performance in the Open has given her a chance to compete in this years 2015 CrossFit Games Masters Qualifier, which will begin Thursday April 23rd and will run until Monday, April 27th.
She will complete 4 workouts over the weekend and based on her ranking in those workouts and her rankings prior from the Open she will have a shot to make top-20 and go to the Games in Carson City, California.
While it may seem from the outside looking in that qualifying as a masters athlete is easier than qualifying as an individual in the Open division, you would be wrong. This is by far the most competitive Masters Division in the CrossFit Games. Many of these men and women qualified as individuals in their respective divisions without any kind of “masters handicap”. These are badass athletes and Debbie is our badass at 12th State!
Debbie does have an athletic background as a soccer player that came before CrossFit, and it is amazing:
Notable College Awards and Achievements: (Debbie had another dozen or so awards on top of these, incredible!!!)
- University of North Carolina 1993-1996
- Team Captain (UNC) 1995 & 1996
- ACC Rookie of the Year 1993
- Four Time ACC Championship Teams 1993-1996
- MVP ACC Tournament 1995
- ACC All-Conference Team 1994-1995
- Three Time National Champions (UNC) 1993, 1994, & 1996
- Four Time College All-American 1993-1996
- Two Time National Player of the Year 1995 & 1996
- MVP NCAA Tournament 1996
- “Keller” #8 Jersey Retired (1997)
Professional Awards and Achievements:
- Under 20 US National Team Member 1992-1993
- United States Women’s National Team Member 1994-1999
- Bronze Medalist 1995 Women’s World Cup, Sweden Olympic Festival MVP 1994
- Second Leading Goal Scorer US Women’s National Team 1998
- Two Time MVP Umbro Select College All Star Classic 1997-1998
- MVP Women’s Soccer League 1997
- Four Year Endorsement Contract: Umbro 1996-2000
Why Debbie thinks you should give CrossFit and possibly competitive CrossFit a shot:
“Do it because it is fun…”Other masters just try it, what the hell, we are already old and most of us have had far more embarrassing life experiences at this point then you could ever have doing CrossFit. You may shock yourself with how much you enjoy it!Do not think you are the only one trying this out, there are other “oldies” out there just like you who are giving this whole CrossFit thing a shot.CrossFit has helped me outside the gym- I’m pretty wide open so socially it’s just fun to have a group of people that you have so much in common with.Athletically it was the one thing that motivated me after popping the 3 kids out that worked & didn’t kill my knee. Running long distance is probably what hurts it the most so I love the interval type training plus it’s very “soccer game like”Plus, 12th State and the amazing coaches who push me, keep it fun, because you understand it is just a fun healthy outlet for me, that makes it the best!… this is a “special place”. Love all of you, even though the younger athletes are a reminder that, I’m not 22 anymore like I think I am, but it’s a good reminder”
Athlete Spotlight - Katlin Isaacs
Athlete Spotlight - Karen and Sam Talarico
Sam and Karen Talarico
Our Inaugural “Athlete Spotlight” post at 12th State CrossFit – Sam and Karen Talarico
Before we dive into our first “Athlete Spotlight” we would like to thank Karen and Sam both for being with us from the very beginning. They worked out in the blazing heat of summer, muddy fields after torrential downpours and never hesitated or lost motivation. Thank you Sam and Karen for being a part of 12th State’s foundation and allowing us to create a community of like minded people like yourselves.
I would also like to note that while the staff at 12th State CrossFit already knows how awesome Sam and Karen are, they were given this honor because their peers overwhelmingly selected them to be our first “MVP(s)”! Congratulations you guys!
1 Hometown and Profession
We are both from the same hometown, a small town in Upstate New York, Utica. (Long story, didn’t really know each other until later in life… “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”). Sam is in-house counsel at a pharmaceutical company in RTP and Karen is the business manager at a dance studio in North Raleigh. We have lived in Raleigh for 10 years.
How did you find out about 12th State and when did you start?
Last May an email was sent to our neighborhood from Mollie announcing a CrossFit gym that would be opening up nearby and that over the summer they were offering a bootcamp in a park near our house. At that time we had both been working too much and any sort of fitness regimen or proper eating habits had been forsaken and we were out of shape and over-weight. We had both just turned 40, and decided that something had to change so we decided to give the bootcamp a go.
What was your fitness regimen before 12th State and how has it changed since joining?
Both of us have had our ups and downs with fitness and never really had something we stuck with for a long period of time. We came into the summer bootcamp without any sort of regular activity and hesitant as this type of thing was completely our of our comfort zones. From day one, everyone was so welcoming and friendly! There was no judgment no matter what your current level of fitness. Bootcamp was a perfect ‘gateway’ for us into CrossFit. Once the gym opened in September, we both joined immediately. Sam was doing CrossFit and Karen a mix of CrossFit and Bootcamp. After spending the summer working out with Cliff and the rest of the coaches – they made sure we were comfortable with the WOD’s and it was clear, there was no shame in modifying a movement if you needed to – they made sure we were getting the best workout for us. Before getting into the bootcamp/gym neither of us had ever done a burpee or lifted a barbell!
How do you enjoy training together? Has it been a good “hobby” to start together?
Becoming a part of 12th State together and starting into the world of CrossFit simultaneously has been an ideal situation for us. We have been married for 12yrs and as you get busy with your work and responsibilities and life takes over we forgot about taking care of ourselves. Starting together, both as newbies has been great, especially seeing each other’s progress and cheering for each other during workouts.
Have you achieved any goals that you set for yourself when you started CrossFit?
The first couple weeks were definitely a learning time for us, getting used to the movement and workouts. We still get a huge feeling of accomplishment most days when we get through the workout. A big goal for both of us initially was just sticking with it week after week.
Have you set any new goals since starting that you never thought you would have set?
Sam: Now that I am feeling more comfortable with the movements, some of my 2015 goals include getting better at double-unders, unassisted pull-ups, getting some PR’s and attempting a muscle up.
Karen: Definite goals would be an unassisted pull up, box jump AND to feel more confident about the weightlifting movements and adding additional lb’s to my bar.
Your thoughts about 12th State CrossFit:
“COMMUNITY”. When anyone asks us about CrossFit or 12th State that is the first thing we talk about, community. That is what keeps us coming back. From the first day’s of bootcamp through this morning’s WOD, it’s the support and people that are working out next to you every day that make 12th State such an amazing place to be a part of. Everyone is always so encouraging and cheer for you whether you are first to finish or last (usually loudest when you are last!). Cliff, Molly, Dale, Hannah, Meg & Brian are not only great coaches, but they are inspiring people that only want you to do your best. We are looking forward to continuing our journey with everyone at 12th State and to getting fitter and stronger!
***The athlete spotlight will be done on a rotating basis with other blog posts here at The 12th State CrossFit Blog. Have someone you would like to nominate for the next Athlete Spotlight? (To nominate a fellow athlete for our next spotlight please forward requests to Cliff at email@example.com)