TeamNC 1 Rep Max Deadlift Faces from the Games.
Fun fact about TeamNC Captain Pat Barber……Weighting in at 175lb. and standing a giant 5’7″ tall, he was able to deadlift 495lb. as his second attempt, and a whopping 515lb. for his 3rd succesful attempt at the CrossFit Games.
Here is a cool article about TeamNC written by one of our NorCal members.
By: Cynthia Jolicoeur
The Norcal team came together midway through the 2014 Open. Former individual Games competitors Pat Barber and Miranda Oldroyd, and Games Team member Tamaryn (Taz) Barber, were joined by Norcal coach and former pro baseball player Alex Rollin, Norcal coach Cheryl Licon, and box members Nick Zambruno and Jen Cadmus (both collegiate Division 1 swimmers) and Elliot Waite.
All the team members are well-rounded CrossFit generalists, with no one being a specialist. “We don’t have ‘the lifter’ and ‘the gymnast’ and ‘the runner’. What you will see is everybody being able to do everything,” Oldroyd observed.
“They are an extraordinarily athletic and fit team,” said former Navy SEAL, Pat Sherwood.
Pat Barber noted that more than anything else, the team needed to spend time just being together, learning how to communicate, and how to relate to each other. “Physically we had the ability from Day One, but emotionally we’ve developed, we’ve matured 100% as a team, and I think that separates us from a lot of teams out there.”
Regular work with sports psychologist Adam Saucedo has helped the team build their communications skills and strong bonds of trust. A tortuous evening spent working with Sherwood in a BUD/S-inspired “time under tension and in misery” helped the team develop and test their resilience, leadership, communications skills and problem-solving abilities.
With so many coaches and Games-level athletes on the team, a major question was what programming to use to prepare the team for Regionals and the Games. The team reached out to Tommy Hackenbruck and Michael Cazayoux, of the 2012 and 2013 Affiliate Cup winners, Hack’s Pack Ute. The programming has been crushing, said Pat Barber, but doing it together has made it fun. Oldroyd noted, “We’ve all kind of suffered through it together and it’s made us even stronger and more confident.”
“The programming has been excellent,” said Rollin, adding, “Our goal is to win that Affiliate Cup. We wouldn’t train as hard as we do if our goal was just to hang out and have fun. We want to make a push for it.”
The high-volume, physically demanding programming has helped the team come together. “It’s been an incredible experience for all of us; it’s definitely brought us all together,” noted Rollin. “We’ve put ourselves in situations where very rarely are we ever comfortable and having to work through that together has been huge.”
The team has also worked with endurance coach Chris Hinshaw, training at the track, in the hills, and at the beach. Hinshaw considers the team to be well balanced and well prepared for the Games’ multi-day, multiple workout endurance experience.
He is particularly enthusiastic about the 6-Mile Relay Run. “This two miles is a true endurance event. Any CrossFit athlete can fake their way through a fast mile; it’s not very far. They’re so strong from an anaerobic standpoint that they can make it happen. But two miles? That’s a real endurance event and people are going to suffer, really suffer. By having a pair, it’s going to make it even more challenging.
Hinshaw believes that the teams who will succeed are the ones that are closely matched. The Norcal team is one of those: they’d been running with well-matched partners already, with a male pair, a female pair, and a mixed pair. And, said Hinshaw, the communication between those pairs is solid, with teammates working together well even when fatigued. “I think they’ll do really well.”
An unusual part of Team Norcal’s preparation was an evening spent with Sherwood, who put them through several hours of high-stress training similar to BUD/S, requiring the team to work together and make decisions under physical duress and time pressure.
Sherwood’s goal was to cause stress any way he could, to disrupt the team flow and process, and to get the team to bicker and break down. In unfamiliar surroundings, under time pressure and in extremely uncomfortable circumstances, the team performed well.
“I was pretty pleased,” said Sherwood. “They appear to be a solid team that has good leadership. They communicate. They got on each other’s nerves here and there but I would have been shocked if they didn’t, because that’s perfectly normal.” Most significant he said, was that “In very short order after they got frustrated or let me get under their skin or the evolution did something to them, they would talk it out amongst themselves, figure out what they needed to do to get back on course, and get themselves back on course. That was a really good sign.”
The evening with Sherwood was a one-time event, but sessions with sports psychologist Saucedo are a regular part of both training and competition for the team.
The team worked on communications skills, including how to talk to each other, how to give feedback in the moment, and how to evaluate both their own and their teammates’ performances. They brainstormed scenarios they might encounter both in training and in competition, created plans so they knew how they wanted to react, and practiced their skills through role-playing. The goal, said Saucedo, is to help them stay centered if those situations arise.
Their sessions paid off during Regionals, when one team member missed all of his snatches during Event 1. “They did a really good job being able to stay focused on what was in their control and ultimately react in a way that was going to help them get through that process,” observed Saucedo.
It turned out to be a pivotal moment for the team. “We didn’t expect to find ourselves in the position that we did after the snatch event,” said Oldroyd. ”In hindsight we agreed that it was a really good thing to have happen because we came together as a team and it forced us to overcome adversity as a team, as opposed to just having a comfortable spot in the top 3 all weekend.”
They clearly demonstrated an ability to fight, and to come back after a bad event. “I think there are very few people who can come back from being way down and not lose their composure, not fight amongst the team, not blame people. And that is going to be a huge strength for them,” Hinshaw agreed.
The team set up an evaluation process prior to the competition, and working with Saucedo was an integral and important part of the team’s days at Regionals. Saucedo met with team members to evaluate the team’s performance, regroup, and prepare for the next events. “They were able to understand the things they did well versus the things they needed to improve on, to build their awareness around their performance that day, and then close that chapter and focus on the next day as a fresh slate.” He’ll be on hand to work with the team at the Games as well.
With only two months between the end of the Open and the Regional competition, the team worked hard to shift from working individually to working together. Members had to learn to set aside their individual preferences and to be open to working in different ways.
“They’ve put a lot of work into self-managing,” said team manager Jonji Barber. “They’re all leaders in their own right and they’re all phenomenal athletes, so to see them come together, and at times check their ego to make it all happen is really impressive.”
Initially, the team focused on why each person wanted to be on the team and what was important to them. They shared what they expected from each other, what they wanted to provide for the team, and what they wanted others to do for them, said team alternate Waite. “We got out in the open stuff that you usually don’t talk about in a normal practice. It was cool. It definitely made us come together.”
Saucedo encouraged the team to find ways to expand their relationships outside of training sessions. Given the diverse composition and time availability of the team, staying connected outside of training time could have been a challenge, but this savvy, Silicon Valley-based team has developed a team group text session that goes “all day long” with jokes and personal messages along with logistical and training content, said Oldroyd.
Zambruno remembered Sherwood saying that nothing brings people together like suffering and laughter. “You can’t have one without the other. If you have both, something special comes out of that,” he said.
Prospects, Strengths and challenges
Sherwood believes that as a young team with limited Games experience, just dealing with the atmosphere may be challenging. “It’s the lights, the camera, the action, the stress. All those factors that you can’t replicate in your gym and you can’t really replicate at Regionals.”
Their biggest hurdle is that even though they’re a talented team, they’re an inexperienced team, he said. “I think that they need to bring calmness and grace under pressure to Carson, and that could be one of their greatest assets.”
Cadmus believes that the team’s biggest strength is their ability to adapt. “If you put us in a situation we’re going to adapt quickly and figure it out,” she stated.
The while each man on the team is a well-rounded athlete, Zambruno has an edge in swimming and running, Barber in short duration workouts and gymnastics, and Rollin in barbell movements and strength. The women are well-rounded too, with comparable abilities. “We’re all pretty good at all of it,” said Taz Barber.
Team alternate Licon said the team is excited about the workouts that have been announced. “Everything that we’ve seen so far, we’re pretty amped about. Because we don’t specialize, whatever is thrown at us we’ll be able to adapt to.”
“The balance of capabilities over the course of many workouts is where you really see our team shine,” Rollin agreed.
Caught up with Garret out in Miami and he has a fun one for you.
NC Lab. Week 46. Tuesday
20 Min EMOM alternating minutes of:
5 Power Cleans 185/125
5 Back Squat 185/125 (No Rack)
Rest about 10-20 minutes then…
4 Rounds For Time Of:
20 Shoulder To Overhead 115/75
3 Rope Climbs (15 Feet)
*Workout Courtesy of CrossFit DownTown Miami
100 Sit-Ups For Time