Athlete of the Month

Athlete of the Month

All of us who work out here at Mission CrossFit SA train hard. We are all on our own journey in pursuit of a higher level of fitness, health and ultimately, life. It is not an easy journey, but it’s worth it. It requires hard work, sweat, discipline, and perseverance. The journey is filled with challenges, obstacles, and sometimes-even setbacks. And although every person’s road is unique, it is not a solo endeavor. We are in the pursuit of fitness together. Like a team, when a person is knocked down, the group responds by picking them up. Equally as important, when someone succeeds, their accomplishments are enjoyed and celebrated by the whole. To that end, every month, one person will be recognized for their outstanding achievements in fitness, whether they are in or out of the box.

This page is dedicated to that individual who portrays what CrossFit is at Mission CrossFit SA. It is someone who pushes hard, never gives up and wants to accomplish something each day they step foot inside our gym. They are chosen by their peers and lead by example. The athlete doesn’t necessarily lift the most amount of weight, or win every WOD, but instead they have passion and desire for what their individual goal is. Work hard, everyone is always paying attention, and you could be next!

May Athlete of the Month

Congratulations to Blaine Rucker on being selected as May’s Athlete of the Month. Blaine has been around CrossFit for quite some time now, you can consider him an OG of the game. When he is not out representing Mission in local competitions, you can’t miss him if there’s a Mission event that requires a costume. He goes above and beyond just participating. For those reasons and many more is why we have selected Blaine as Athlete of the Month.

Started CrossFit– 2013 Round Rock – Kill It Crossfit

Favorite WOD– Double Karen

Least favorite WOD– Anything with a barbell. Especially a heavy barbell.

Favorite lift– I hate lifting.  Let’s do rowing, bar muscle-ups, and wall balls until we die. If I have to pick a “lift” kettlebell swings (American), They make me feel important. 

Least favorite lift– Anything with a barbell. I hate lifting. Have I said that yet? I joined CrossFit to force me outside of my comfort zone.

Story– WOW, how deep do I go? CrossFit helped me find light in a dark place. I needed some friends while starting a new chapter. A college friend told me to join a box, and I would make some friends. I was a little worried because I was not into “lifting with the bros.” I was a swimmer/runner/triathlon kind of guy. 

The first gym I joined was very family-oriented, and I felt comfortable right away. They taught me all of the basics. Their coach was Olympic Lifting certified, which was essential to me because of my degree in Exercise Science and my American College of Sports Medicine certification. 

As we have moved around, I have carried that knowledge and foundation to a few other boxes. I can always count on the community to be accepting and like-minded. Crossfit has been an integral part of my 7+ years of sobriety. I also travel a lot, and I get more excited about box drop-ins than some of the vacation explorations.

Mission Crossfit has been my home for a little over two years. I value the education and experience of the owners and their coaches. I worked in the fitness industry for many years. I know quality coaching and guidance when I see it. As an LGBQ athlete, I appreciate that Mission Crossfit embraces everyone for who they are and can meet anyone at their current personal journey. Mission Crossfit has taught me to go back to the basics. The technique is always preferred to a sloppy, heavy lift. I will forever be the little guy trying to hang with the big dogs. That is ok. I can still outrun them.

April Athlete of the Month

Congratulations to Trish Shanahan on being selected as April’s Athlete of the Month. Trish has been consistent with working on her weaknesses. Though she loves running and you can always find her at the box on the endurance WODs. She works just as hard if there is a barbell in the WOD. She juggles 2 kids and her full time position in the military with such ease. For those reasons and many more is why Trish has been selected as our Athlete of the month.

Started CrossFit– July 2016

Favorite WOD– I really like Murph because of the running and body weight movements.  If there is a WOD that has more running than Murph, I would like that one better.

Least favorite WOD– Heavy lifting WODs. Not. My. Jam.

Favorite lift– Clean. This lift has wormed its way into my heart.

Least favorite lift- Snatch. It is very humbling, but I am starting to feel more confident and improve my technique. I can respect the lift now…. but it will be awhile before it becomes special to me.

Story– Initially I was not interested in CrossFit at all because I was a devoted long-distance runner (since high school) and could not understand why people would want to do these high intensity workouts that were “short” when they could enjoy a nice long run.  I would lift weights to augment my running, but nothing too heavy.  I ran throughout my first pregnancy and started right back running after my first child.  At the time, I stopped lifting weights because I “didn’t have enough time.”  I kept getting hurt, but ran through the pain (I don’t recommend doing that).  By time of my second pregnancy, I was running less and less because of pain and lack of mobility. After my second child, I had almost given up on running all together. I was eating more, working out less and actually was perplexed as to why I was gaining weight.  In 2016 while stationed at Ft. Gordon, GA, the on-post gym began hosting CrossFit for active duty service members. One of my residents invited me to a class… I agreed, but still had all sorts of negative ideas about CrossFitters.  Surprisingly, the class was not like the stereotypes or memes about Crossfit and the people were normal-ish (kinda). I kept showing up and eventually started doing things that I had never been able to before. I got my first ever pull up (it took me 9 months to get one, but I did it!!!!) and was able to climb a rope.  This was such a big deal for me. I began to respect my body more, eat better (most of the time), and my running naturally started to come back. I got back into running races and increasing my distances beyond what I ever thought I would— I also hook grip when I run now as it keeps me from clinching my fists too much while running. I have muscles in places that I didn’t know muscles exist. And the best part was when I overheard my daughter tell her friend “my mom is so strong.” 

March Athlete of the Month

Congratulations to Joey Almaraz on being selected as March 2020 Athlete of the Month. Joey is a regular to the evening classes. You can always find him cracking jokes before, during and after class. He brings great energy to every class he attends. He pushes himself in every WOD and encourages every athlete to do their best. For those reasons and many more is why Joey has been selected as Athlete of the Month.

Started CrossFit– April 2014
Favorite WOD–  Tie between Amanda or DT
Least favorite WOD–  Diane
Favorite lift–  Snatch
Least favorite lift–  Deadlift
Story–  I started CrossFit back in 2014 after moving to Austin. I was tired of the same ole Chest & Bi’s, Shoulders & Tri’s days… Legday (if I felt like it) workouts.  I wasn’t having fun with my fitness routine which is why I decided to switch it up.  My first official WOD after completing the intro course that was on the Friday of Open WOD 14.5.  Thruster after thruster & burpee after burpee I couldn’t help but question my decision to start CrossFit but I went back the next day and the next and couldn’t help but be hooked to this type of fitness and all the people I met along the way.  In July of 2015 I received my CF level 1certification, coached some, and finally moved back to SA.  I jumped around from box to box and finally found my new home at Mission. I have tried over half of the gyms in San Antonio and dropped in all over the country when we travel and know from experience that Mission provides one of the most comprehensive experiences out there. From thoughtful programming to some of my favorite coaches to a great facility, it is hard to beat. I can’t help but be thankful for the coaches and people my wife and I have come to call our gym family.


January Athlete of the Month

Congratulations to Raymond “RJ” Pittman on being selected as January Athlete of the Month. RJ has embraced the CrossFit community like no other, best way to put it, he drank the cool-aid. RJ came to us with some military background training but nothing prepared him for what we had in store for him. He comes in every afternoon with a positive attitude and willingness to get better and work on his weaknesses. Besides the work he puts in the box, its also the little things he does for the Mission community outside of classes. You can always find RJ helping out for events and bringing in his friends to give Mission a try. For those reasons and many more is why RJ has been selected as January Athlete of the Month.
Started CrossFit: April 2018
Favorite WOD: DT
Least favorite WOD: Karen
Favorite Lift: Deadlift
Least Favorite Lift: Overhead Squat
Story: My story is like most people, I was previously a very active person, from distance running in my teens, to military PT in my 20s, to making it up as I went (with Ken Helgren) in my 30s.  After spending 4 years in Germany doing nothing but eating schnitzel and consuming beer by the liters, I found my way back to San Antonio in far worse shape than I had left it.  Ken could not shut up about CrossFit and the results he was enjoying and the amazing people at MCFSA.  I decided to give it a try in April 2018.  After getting my a$$ handed to me in a trial class I signed up.  I took the Foundations class with Coach Amy and set a few short term goals- trade some body fat for lean muscle, improve my physique, and fix my diet.  I wanted to look like my old self in 3 months.  For me, that meant losing about 10% body fat, building about 10 lbs of muscle, and getting smart about food.  Several factors lead to my success in meeting those goals:
1. MCFSA ran a 6 week paleo challenge.  This was a great kick start to educating myself on the diet I needed to fuel my body the right way.  Having spent most of my active life in running I had a very carb heavy approach to food, and remember vividly saying “I work out so I can eat whatever I want.”
2. MCFSA Coaches!  There is not enough space on the internet to list everything the coaches have done for me.  Every coach has helped me in my pursuit.  Each has their own specialty or their own way of making things make sense to me.  I know which coach to engage when I need a kick in the butt for motivation, who to ask about aches and pains, who can spot my flaws and get me straight.  No matter which coach is leading us I learn something and improve.
3. All of you fine people!  Countless members of this community have impacted my story.  Teaching me technique, cheering me on, pointing me to resources.  Some of you don’t even realize that I look up to you and watch you doing movements to try and emulate you.  You all have been welcoming and amazing.  People call us a cult, they call us crazy, fanatical kool-aide drinkers- if I can continue to be associated with and surrounded by you great people I’ll wear those badges with pride.
Being selected as an Athlete of the Month has me looking both backwards and forwards.  Reflecting on almost two years of memories and experiences in our CrossFit journeys and the impact all of this craziness has had on me; reaching my own goals and PRs.  Thinking about what goals I should set for myself going forward.  Thank you for selecting me, it’s an honor.
Thank you, Ken and Amy, for dragging me into this world.  Thanks to all the coaches for your efforts week after week.  Thanks to all of the MCFSA family for being a great community.  A special thank you to my amazing wife, Noha, for letting me talk you into joining me in this journey. I love you and am so proud of you and your accomplishments so far.

December Athlete of the Month

Congratulations to Julissa Salazar for being selected as December Athlete of the Month. Tying to make time for yourself to get to the gym is hard enough, but throw in a brand new baby girl. Julissa juggles being a brand new mom, work and still trying to make time for her fitness with class. She normally attends the noon class, but also throws in a 5am class every now and then. She has shown drive and commitment in her overall health through this journey as a first time mother. For those reasons and many more is why we have selected Julissa as December Athlete of the Month.
Started CrossFit– October 2017
Favorite WOD- ”Annie”
Least favorite WOD– ”Karen”
Favorite lift– deadlifts
Least favorite lift– overhead squats
Story– My story. I began my fitness journey back in 2013. I’ve always enjoyed watching the CrossFit games and been mesmerized by the movements, strength, and endurance athletes perform. My husband and I attended Krav Maga, a gym where powerlifting or CrossFit movements were not allowed. So we decided to join MCFSA, which a friend recommended. From the very beginning, I fell in love with CrossFit. I appreciate the coaches that take the time to teach technique because of them I have gotten better and a lot more comfortable with the movements.
What I have learned is that it takes practice, patience, perseverance and determination to learn every movement.
I have also learned that a person cannot accomplish any of it alone. It is through knowledgeable coaches and members/friends who motivate you. And of course the strength and the abilities that God provides.
Every day is a chance to get better regardless of life’s setbacks, so I count every day as a blessing and an opportunity to get stronger. With that said, thanks MCFSA family because of the impact you have had on me, I can reach my goals.

November Athlete of the Month

Congratulations to Galen Valadez  on being selected as November Athlete of the Month. Galen has been a valuable part of the Mission community for many years now. You cant miss him at the 6:30pm class because he always makes his presence known. You can see him hitting big numbers on his lifts with his “old man strength” to giving the Coaching staff a hard time. Galen has not only been a tremendous asset to the Mission Community inside the box but outside the box as well. For those reasons and many more is why being selected as November Athlete of the Month.

Started CrossFit: 20111
Favorite WOD: King Kong
Least Favorite WOD: Murph
Favorite Lift: Deadlift
Least Favorite Lift: Full squat
Story: My journey in CrossFit started in 2011. My daughter and son in law had joined a CrossFit gym and they wanted me to come try it out. I did and I was hooked. I especially enjoyed the friendly competition with my fellow crossfitters.
What really impressed me was the sense of family among everyone. I have made some life long friends through this journey. I have not been at the box as much as I would like this past year. When I am there I try to cause as much trouble as i can. I am coming for your Joey, watch your back. There is a reason we call the 6:30pm class the Best thirty. We are not just a class, we are family, except Ignacio.

Galen Valadez

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