The Lead Up
My Affiliate, Reebok CrossFit Gold Coast, qualified for the Reebok CrossFit Games in 2011. Representing us, were a number of great athletes who have now gone on to open successful Affiliates and continue to change people’s lives. I had gone as the alternate athlete as the athletes who had done the hard work at Regionals deserved their chance on the big stage. Coaching them was a better choice for me as the athletes selected in the team were far fitter and stronger than I was!
I would have loved the opportunity to throwdown with the best in the world in 2011, but as it turns out, my path back to the Reebok CrossFit Games in 2015 would be down a completely different path.
The CrossFit Games Facebook page advertised a few months out from Regionals in 2014, searching for new media personnel for their team in various roles. I contacted them and Sean Woodland mentioned they were looking for some local based commentators to fill the role at Regionals, as they were now going to live stream the entire event and needed live commentary to go with it.
Sean sent through a video clip of the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Cinco Final and it required audio to accompany it. I contacted good friend Adrian ‘AJ’ Johnston and he suggested I head into his radio station to make sure it was good quality. We laid down the track and I sent it through.
Within a few days, Sean emailed back and confirmed I had got the job to be the play-by-play commentator at Regionals! I was in shock, but looking forward to the challenge. I thought I had done an ok job but obviously lots of room for improvement.
Fast forward to this year’s Regionals was under the belt and it felt more comfortable the longer I was on the microphone. Having Lily Cosgrove and Kayla Banfield as part of the team made it very easy as they had both done this sort of thing before and were a great help in getting a great finished product out. The man who has been there every step at Regionals, Wayne Soutar deserves a medal for the amount of times I have asked him for help or assistance, even halfway through an event or at midnight the night before competition!
Sean emailed again while I was away on the ATP Tour with Bernard Tomic at Wimbledon and asked if I was available to join the media team for the Games! I was totally gobsmacked and had to read the email a few times for it to sink in. This was the big stage where the stakes were ridiculously high as ESPN were covering a lot of the Games this year.
Kara and Jeromy CrossFit Games
With Tia-Clair Toomey
After our initial production meeting on Monday and meeting all the team of high level directors and producers, we had a chance to walk around the StubHub Centre and get our bearings. A lot can change in 4 years, and it certainly did. The Games is nearly tripled in size since I was there last. Having the opportunity to work with some of the best in the business was a massive eye opener and so rewarding as they are all so open to help.
The first day of broadcast was the Teenage and Masters division which was a challenge as I was now filling a role of ‘colour commentator’ and not my normal role of play-by-play. Brandon Domingue who commentated the Games in 2014 and two Regionals was rostered as my play-by-play. It took me a little while to settle in as the two Teenage divisions (14-15 & 16-17) were running at the same time and they were doing slightly different events. We managed to get through the boys and then I was rostered to work with Justin Judkins (long time CrossFit Radio personality) for the Masters Men. This was more comfortable as they were all doing the same event but working with someone new, required more adjustment as both Brandon and Justin have different personalities and call things differently. After a great day 1, it was time to wrap up with another production meeting and then head back to the hotel around 9pm. I spent the next few hours going over all of the material that Chad Schroeder had compiled and finally got to sleep around 2am.
Crossfit Games 15 Crew
With our Reebok CrossFit Games 2015 Media Team
The alarm at 5am wasn’t nice, however I needed to be on-the-go to head back to the StubHub centre for the 7am production meeting. Wednesday proved to be the most challenging day of the entire week. With Chase Ingraham and Cherie Chan out at Hermosa Beach to cover the teams competition, I was left to assist Brandon for the teenage boys and girls and join Jeff Brightwell and Justin Judkins for all of the female and male masters divisions. This meant 5 hours straight commentary with no break. During one of the male masters sideline interviews, I managed to bolt down the hallway for a brief toilet stop only to return as the next heat was already underway and Justin covering my absence with no problems.
Once the teenagers and masters had finished on Thursday, the workload reduced significantly with just myself and Jeff Brightwell calling the early heats of the teams. Chase and Cherie would cover the remaining team heats and Brandon would move onto the individual competitors with Bill Grundler, Tanya Wagner and Sean Woodland. Our sensational sideline reporters, Nike Brazier, Nick Zelinski and Mike Arsenault would also continue on with the teams and individuals throughout the rest of the weekend.
This was the norm for the entire week with very long hours and very little sleep. Having experienced people like Sean, Bill, Chase, Cherie, Tanya, Brandon, Rory McKernan, Tommy Marquez, Pat Sherwood and Caity Matter-Henniger was great to tap into their knowledge and have them over look what was happening each and every day.
Crossfit Games 15
With Greg Glassman | Founder of CrossFit
Although it may seem like a well oiled machine from ESPN or the live stream, there are so many moving parts that the Games producer, Joe Novello described it as halfway between the Super Bowl and the Olympic Games in size of production
This was an amazing experience and having a “backstage pass” to the Reebok CrossFit Games for 2015 was something I never thought I would encounter. Having access to the athletes, the sponsors, all the CFHQ staff and the incredible media team. A lot has happened at the StubHub Centre in 4 years and the sport can only get bigger and better with each year. I hope to return to California, with the same amazing media team and improve on what I have learnt and do an even better job in 2016!