By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – On any given day at CrossFit Prototype, the floor is busy with athletes of both sexes and all ages, working out.
At the back of the gym, there are several young girls, lifting weights, under the careful guidance of their coach, Joe Black. But although these girls are quite young, only 13-17 years old, they are as strong, if not stronger, than many of the other athletes in the gym. And three of those girls – Rylie Rohloff, 13, Olivia Sassetti, 15, and Abby French, 16 – actually qualified to compete in the 2019 Nike National Youth Weightlifting Championships held in Anaheim, Calif., in late June.
For these girls, performing the traditional weightlifting moves, clean and jerk and snatch, has changed their bodies, they said, making them stronger. But it’s also gave them a confidence that, with hard work, they can achieve anything they set their minds to.
“I started CrossFit after my mom started doing it, then I started weightlifting,” Olivia said. “I think it’s really fun.”
“Nationals were really crazy because usually we are used to just a few kids our ages, but there were so many there,” she added. “Competing there has made me super inspired and given me the push to do even more.”
Rylie Rohloff, 13, has only been a member of the club for “four or five months,” she said, but she also did CrossFit first.
“I saw my sister Meghan do [weightlifting] and it looked fun, so I kept asking if I could do it, too,” she said. “Now I am really passionate about it.”
The girls all noted that their friends were a bit surprised about their choice of sport at first, but now, as Olivia noted, they think it’s “really cool.”
Abby noted that she was not nervous at Nationals, in spite of having to compete in front of so many people.
“I don’t really get anxious – I just get in the zone and perform well under pressure,” she said. “I just really enjoy it.”
“My family all came out, too, to cheer me on, which was great,” she added. “It was really an unforgettable experience.”
“They have always been so supportive of me doing [weightlifting],” she said.
Like the other girls, Abby French did Crossfit first before switching to weightlifting.
She also plays lacrosse – weightlifting, she noted, helps make her a stronger player.
Black has coached before but this is his first time coaching a girls’ team, he said.
“I love it; it is so awesome,” he said. “It’s so inspiring to see them work so hard and take pride in that.”
“We are always open to others joining us,” he added. “We also have an adult team with people up to their early 50s although there is really no age limit.”
To learn more contact Black at [email protected].
photos/courtesy Joe Black