How did you first get involved in Olympic lifting?
When I was a kid at barely 18, I was lost. I had almost no direction and no plan for the future until I met coach Burgener, who saved me with a hug and a barbell. He has been my father figure for the past 23 years, and I refer to him as 'Pops.'
What was the moment you realized you could make it a career by passing on your knowledge to others?
After Sage left for college, Pops told me that he didn't want to coach clients in the garage anymore and that I would be taking over any new athletes that came in to the gym. I had no choice! But I soon realized that I was pretty darn good at being a coach, and that I could carry on his legacy.
Did you ever think you’d be coaching top level athletes in the sport of CrossFit and USAW?
Yes! Of course! I am very confident in my abilities, and value myself. Cody is not the first Games athlete I have coached. I coached athletes at the very beginning stages of the CrossFit Games, back in Aromas! I coached Jolie Gentry, who was the very first CrossFit Games Champion, for several years. The last CrossFit Games she competed in was in 2009 and she got 7th. I also coached Tamara Holmes that year, she got 16th (2009). Jocelyn Forest was another of my athletes. She won the Northern California regional, back when California was two regions- and went on to the Games. I also coached Chyna Cho for a bit over 2 years! But this was long before social media was invented, so many people don’t know that I have been in the sport as a coach for a long, long time! I have also coached several other Games athletes with their lifting or mental training over the years.
For USAW—I have worked very hard at being a dedicated coach, and carrying on my Pop’s legacy. I take my coaching very seriously. In both sports. What my athletes don’t see is the hours I spend on my computer studying their movement, studying other top-secret things, and developing the best plan I can for them.
You coach the 10th Fittest Male on Earth, Cody Anderson. What is it like trying to prepare a young man for that big of a stage?
It is very 24 hours a day! We work very hard all year and I take it very seriously. I am so proud of how hard he works--on his mental game, his weaknesses, and his strengths. My work doesn’t end when he leaves the gym, and neither does his. I think we both really invested a lot this last year and it was worth it. I would do it again ten times over.
What advice did you give Cody before he started climbing the leaderboard at the 2018 CrossFit Games?
Before every workout I evaluate where he is, how the point spread is, what he needs to do. I believe in him—I see how hard he works, and what he goes through every single day. Before he goes out, I say really motivating stuff like “Mom’s spaghetti!”, or “don’t fuck this up”. HA! I tell him that he is ready, and to trust his training. Or that we have done a workout like this before…or to be tough and keep fighting no matter what--typically on workouts that I know aren’t going to be good for him. As his coach, I can’t say look dude- this workout is going to be awful for you. That is like giving up before he even gets out there. He needs to know that I believe in him, and that I am going to fight for him, and that I will always be strong for him. So, I tell him to keep fighting no matter what. I also tell him he needs to make sure he stays in front of this, this, and this person (when it is appropriate). He knows that I don’t care if he gets first place or last place as long as I see him fighting his ass off. He typically does just what I tell him he needs to do, and then we start climbing.
As his coach, describe the feeling that went through you when the last updated leaderboard showed Cody as 10th Fittest?
Right after Regionals I told my husband that Cody would get top 10. I knew his fight was there, and I had seen so much improvement in his mental game as well as his overall training and ability to do whatever needs to be done. When I saw that he had hung on to top 10, I of course cried. I was relieved, elated, and overwhelmed with pride. I wish they would have let us on the floor so I could hug him and tell him how happy he had made me - and how proud I was that he accomplished something so huge. That all of the hours we had put in every single day for a year, had paid off. That it was so worth it.
By the time I saw him a hundred hours later (he was signing stuff and taking pictures for fans), the moment had passed and instead I said, “I am starving, let’s go eat”.
Do you guys plan on taking the next few months lighter in training? Or are you attacking weaknesses right away?
Now… why in the world would I give our training secrets away ;)
I am going to do exactly what he needs as an athlete and as a person, and give him everything he needs to be successful in resetting his mind and body for the 2019 season.
If you could tell Cody one thing about his performance at the 2018 Reebok CrossFit Games, what would it be?
That my heart is so full of love, pride, and mom’s spaghetti :)