Halfway through the football season last year, the Vikings showed just how effective CrossFit training can be.
South Tahoe went on a five-game win streak that catapulted the Vikings from 0-4 to 5-4 playoff contention. They shouldn’t have been able to do it. The South Tahoe roster is usually three-times smaller than most opponents. The players rarely, if ever, see the sidelines. The second half is when they should have been running out of steam.
“CrossFit has just created a mental toughness out there and it has showed them that they can overcome so many hurdles,” head coach Kevin Hennessee said. “I mean, they’re flipping giant tires for 400 meters and carrying 45-pound plates over their heads. They’ve been able to do things that they never thought they could do so when they get into the second half it’s like, OK, this isn’t anything.”
Teaming up to flip 400-plus pound tires and finishing with street sprints was just Wednesday. Every day is different for the football team. The CrossFit trainers create and test new workouts for the guys every day. Sometimes those workouts are two minutes. Sometimes they last an hour, but they always push the players to their physical and mental limits.
“You have to push yourself through the pain and finish,” said Monika Renk, CrossFit level 1 trainer. “Mentally, you can’t quit because if you mentally quit your body is going to quit no matter what. If we can train them to stay mentally strong here then they’ll stay mentally strong in the game.”
Renk, along with co-trainer Dylan Yuzbick, both played sports locally and know what it feels like to routinely be matched against teams with twice the players. This explains why the South Lake Tahoe CrossFit crew essentially donates their time to training the Vikings.
“We didn’t have anything like this,” Yuzbick said. “But it’s so important because given the limited pool that they have to choose from, it allows them to hang with teams that are bigger and that can cycle through players. Our guys have to play offense and defense and CrossFit allows them to do that.”
The workouts vary, but they are usually team-oriented.
“They’re getting the physical part no matter what,” Renk said, “but we also make them do things where they’re going to have to work together and communicate.”
The communication, the metal toughness and physical stamina that comes with CrossFit is slowly helping the Vikings build a winning program.
“The last two years it’s been amazing,” Hennessee said. “Once again we just came from camp and we only lost one kid and he’s the kid who hasn’t been coming to CrossFit. The benefits it gives us, as a small team, has been incredible.”
“Your body will always evolve, but if we can push these kids to improve mentally and be leaders in the community than we’re really achieving some goals.”
Monika Renk, CrossFit Level 1 trainer