Monday, June 30, 2008

CrossFit Old Town is my Easy...

Before you get bent out of shape reading my title today, please go back and reread it. It does not say "CFOT is Easy". No. It says CFOT is MY Easy. So you're probably thinking that it sounds like I can't use correct grammar and that I'm rambling and making no sense. Well, I am rambling, but it will make sense, or at least I hope it will. Today is another rest day for me thanks still in part to my 4 mile walk the other night plus my double shift yesterday, so that means that on my workout front, there is nothing new to report. However, you know me and my ability to leave my blog alone for a day, and that's about as good as me leaving CrossFit alone for a day. So, here I am with my rest day ramblings. Ooh, that was almost alliteration. :P

You know, ever since I dated Bobby, I guess you could say that I have had a slight fascination, ok, fine, a strong fascination, with the men of Easy Company (101st Airborne, 506 PIR) who served in WWII. I had never dated anyone who had a military background and Bobby is chalk full of knowledge with regards to the military in general and military history. Especially paratroopers since he was trained to be one. Through him, I wound up becoming very engrossed in the story of the men of Easy Company. Now, for those of you reading right now, I'm sure you're wondering how a group of paratroopers could have anything to do with CrossFit. Just sit tight because I'm getting to it.

Since my fascination has gotten going, I have read several books on Easy Company, specific men of Easy Company, and the leaders of Easy Company. The book that I just finished yesterday was one such book about two gentlemen who were part of Easy Company, and remained lifelong friends ever after in south Philly. If you know the story of Easy, then you know the story of "Wild Bill" and "Babe". While I was reading their story, something that Bill said made me stop and think. He said that everyone deserved the credit for winning WWII, not just Easy. He said that Easy wasn't a group of heroes, but what made Easy so unique was their ability to band together, stay together, and stick together during and ever after the war. Until recently, Easy Company men got together every single year to talk to each other and catch up.

What makes Easy Company's story so powerful is that these men banded together in a way few, if any other regiments did. No one stayed together the way they did. Perhaps part of it had to do with the fact that their unit trained together and then stayed together during the war, which was unheard of at the time, but regardless, it's amazing. Before losing both legs in Bastogne (Battle of the Bulge), Joy Toye had been wounded 3 times, gone AWOL from the aid station and hospitals and returned to his unit because he didn't WANT to become a replacement in another unit. Popeye Wynn went AWOL after being injured at Brecourt Manor (part of the Normandy invasion) so that he didn't have to miss the jump into Holland during Operation Market Garden and thus become a replacement outside Easy. These men took the worst of the worst and stayed together. They felt leaving their friends by being wounded was letting them down. Despite their pains and illnesses and injuries, they wanted to stay together because they never wanted to let each other down. They helped each other through the worst of possible times, and were always there to pick each other up. Imagine being surrounded by a group of Germans who had larger and more guns than you did. Imagine that it is below freezing, and you have no warm clothes. Those men were in those circumstances and found a way to support each other. They became a community, a "Band of Brothers".

To me, CFOT is my Easy Company. This group of people has trained together, many of us now for over a year. Everytime I have fallen facedown in the dirt, all I had to do was look around to see the hands of people there and willing to pull me back up. Everytime I look at that barbell and want to quit, I hear the voices of those people encouraging me on. When life has gotten rough, and it looked like things wouldn't be bright again, there were people all around willing to share smiles and help get me to a better place. CFOT is my Easy because they never give up on me. Easy Company never believed in leaving a man behind, and neither does CFOT. Every person calls time, or comes across that finish line. It's the reality of the room. CFOT has created something powerful. Something that I suspect few other affiliates can match. I have heard stories, but none seem to resonate in the same tone that ours does. While in their doors, affiliates seem to have great rapport. But leave those doors, and many seem to fade away. Easy never faded away, and when CFOT leaves the doors, we don't either. Whether we are in the room or not, CFOT is CFOT. We call each other, message each other, blog to each other. In many ways, we have created the same kind of community that Easy has. A very supportive and caring, and yet still ass kicking community. Do we complete heroic feats like the men of Easy did? No, certainly not... although completing some of our workouts may feel like it. But, does CFOT inspire me, and get me through some of the dark days the way the men of Easy did for each other? Absolutely.

I understand that some may think my relation of CFOT to Easy is a bit of a stretch, and some may even be offended. But I want to go back to what Bill said, the bond is what made them unique and that's what I'm getting at. I'm not saying we're heroes, but I think the same can be said about CFOT. I think our bond is very unique. There's nowhere, albeit ocassionally my bed, I would rather be than in the Blue Room at 0600 with my crew. Furthermore, Bill notes that Easy was held together by strong leadership. In particular, that of Dick Winters. Dick Winters was a smart man. He made smart decisions based on his military knowledge, and also common sense, something that some leaders didn't use. He was a mans' man. He looked after his troops and made sure to try to take care of each and every one of them. Hmmm... does that remind you of anyone? I can't think of anyone with better fitness sense, or just a sense of knowing his athletes, not only as athletes but as people, than Jerry. He truly does his best to look after each and every one of us. I can't picture a better leader for CFOT. True leadership begins the process of promoting that community, and Jerry does that. Jerry is our Dick. Hmmmm, that sounds kinda mean, but I think you can see my point. CrossFit certainly isn't Easy... but CFOT is MY Easy. They are MY "Band of Brothers".

PS- If these names, places, groups etc. don't really make any sense to you, here are a few related readings that may help you understand.

Band of Brothers-Stephen Ambrose
Beyond Band of Brothers- Dick Winters
Biggest Brother-Larry Alexander
Brothers in Battle*Best of Friends- "Wild Bill" Guarnere and Edward "Babe" Heffron with Robyn Post
Call of Duty: My life before, during, and after the Band of Brothers- Lynn "Buck" Compton (have not read yet, released May '08)
Easy Company Soldier: The endless combat of a sargent from WWII's Band of Brothers- Don Malarky (have not read yet, released May '08)


Cara said...

Great post Katie!

Katie said...

Thanks Cara! :)

Robin said...

That was inspiring, Katie.

Katie said...

Thanks Robin! :)

Tami said...

Great post. I don't belong to an affiliate, but I belong to a martial arts school and we have the same type of camaraderie. Maybe it's the shared suffering, or maybe it's because most of us have a similar type of personality. (Like CrossFit or the Airborne, it's definitely not for everyone.)

Band of Brothers, IMO, is the best WWII movie ever made, period. I know technically it's not a movie, but I don't think there's any other way they could have told that story and done it justice.

And Dick Winters... wow, what a man. Too bad there aren't more like him in the world.

Katie said...

Tami, if I could meet one person and shake their hand, it would be him. I have never heard anyone say a bad thing about him... other than Bill... but that's just because he thought he was a Quaker... or a Mennonite... ;)

Kurt T. Fuller said...

It's amazing how CrossFit draws so many parallels to stories of "hero's" of the past.

Great post, keep up the good work.


Katie said...

Thanks KF. You've been looking pretty solid lately too! Keep up all the hard work out there!

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