2016 CrossFit Games Competitor Christian Lucero Shifts Focus to Serving Others
On March 6, Christian Lucero announced that he would be skipping the CrossFit Open after first competing in 2012. He explained at the time that he had a new pursuit, one that would take advantage of the years spent bettering himself.
Now Lucero has revealed that he will be pursuing a career in the military in order to serve others and his community. Although he is keeping his chosen branch under wraps for the time being.
Remind me: Lucero has been a prominent figure in the CrossFit space, competing at Regionals five times as an individual and once on a team. His 2016 season was one for the ages as he competed with Josh Bridges, Rasmus Andersen, Marcus Filly, Dan Bailey, and Jason Carroll among others, ultimately finishing fourth and booking his trip to the CrossFit Games. Lucero ended the Games weekend in 18th place after turning in a performance that included a second-place finish in The Separator.
Making major moves: Walking away from CrossFit was not a simple decision for Lucero. The sport has played a major role in his life and in his relationships, but it became less important as he felt a “bigger calling toward service” at this point in his life. He had some “hard conversations” and then came to the decision that a military career was the right move for him and his family.
- “It was a tough transition to be like, ‘you know, is it something I actually want to leave?’” Lucero explained. “Then if so, what are the reasons behind that? and, you know, kind of appreciating what it has done for my life, in a sense, and my family’s life.”
- “It was a big, big contributor to me meeting my wife, and, you know, having the relationship that I have with her, and our journey together. So it’s brought a lot of incredible things.”
- “But I just feel like what this year and everything that it’s brought on with — not necessarily COVID, in particular, but everything on top of itself — it’s just been a really good opportunity to reassess and kind of see, ‘okay, what do I want my life to look like in the next five, 10, 15 years?’”
As Lucero and his wife, Jessica, continued to examine possible options, they took part in several “awesome conversations” about the future. He also examined his own life and posed questions about what kind of husband and father he wants to be. Lucero then examined the skills that he has developed throughout his life while trying to determine what truly makes him happy.
- “I think that the biggest thing that I took away from it was I have a lot of skills that I’ve spent time developing and building throughout my life athletically,” Lucero said. “Martial arts when I was younger and then just playing every sport growing up.”
- “And then falling in love with football and playing that to the best of my ability. Then going into MMA and pursuing that wholeheartedly and then finding CrossFit and doing that for the past nine to 10 years.”
- “(The) military is a huge way you can do that. And with all the things that I’ve been able to accumulate, it was a natural fit. Every boy grows up playing toy soldier — most boys. I won’t say every boy, but a lot of boys. That was the same for me.”
A robust skillset: With the athletic abilities in his possession, as well as his work ethic, Lucero likely could have pursued any number of potential careers after walking away from competitive CrossFit. However, he knew that military service checked a lot of boxes for him and his wife.
- “I can give back to my country, I can give back to, you know, the ability I had to go after my dreams in this country,” Lucero explained. “I can go out and I can serve other people, I can serve my family, I can serve my country, I can serve my community in a bigger way than I would have been able to.
- “And I can use all of those skills, all those gifts — whatever you want to call them — that I built to do that. And I feel very passionate about that. I feel like, you know, I’ve essentially been training for it my whole life and to be able to put those to work and utilize those things.”
Expert advice: The CrossFit Games have featured several athletes with military service. Josh Bridges was a Navy SEAL, Chandler Smith served as a Captain in the Army, Lt. Col. Anthony Kurz was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group in Fort Campbell, and Dakota Rager spent seven years as an Army Deep Sea Diver. Lucero did not name anyone specifically, but he did reveal that he reached out to some people with military experience about his decision.
- “I definitely leaned on a few of the guys that I trust in each branch… you know, kind of got their feedback on ‘hey, what’s the life like? Hey, what’s the family life like? What’s the deployment schedule? Like, hey, what’s the job?’”
- “A lot of people are so focused on the training of a lot of these things, they don’t actually think about, ‘hey, what’s the job when I finished the training?’ And is that something that I’m actually going to like and be good at?”
- “These guys have gone through it. they’ve been it, they’ve lived it. And just like, you know, if I were to go into anything, I would try to consult with somebody that’s already been through it and been to the places that I’m going to go.”
Bottom line: Lucero will no longer have his name on future CrossFit leaderboards as he pursues a military career. His focus will shift to serving others and giving back to his country. However, he will move forward in his life with some special memories from his time on the competition floor, including the final event at the 2016 California Regionals.
- “I think the biggest and the most memorable moment would probably be crossing the finish line in that 2016 Regional and seeing my wife there at the finish line,” Lucero said in closing. “We had just been in Utah, she was competing at Olympic trials to make the Olympic team and she had missed it by one spot. She was an alternate, and she had the meet of her life.”
- “Just to see her and to be able to see the expression that she had on her face and how happy (she was). She was crying and tearing up and was so proud. And then right next to her was my coach.”