Tommy Hackenbruck Joins Underdogs Athletics

July 8, 2021 by
Credit: Underdogs Athletics (
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If you haven’t heard the name Tommy Hackenbruck on your CrossFit Games feed in a few years, that’s because he’s been busy. He’s voted “the meanest coach of the 5:30 am class” out at his gym in Utah and was promoted to dad just a few years ago. But all that’s about to change as Hackenbruck steps back into the spotlight with The Underdogs.

One big thing: In the last year, Underdogs Athletics has made a splash on the competition floor with head coach Justin Cotler guiding their premiere athlete, Kari Pearce, all the way to her title of Third Fittest Woman on earth in 2020.

  • Since then, the Underdogs have made a name for themselves, adding athletes like Bethany Shadburne, Tola Morakinyo, and Danielle Brandon, all making the move to the Las Vegas training camp.
  • This summer, one more big name will be added to the pool, but not as an athlete.
  • Tommy Hackenbruck will be joining the Underdogs as a coach starting this month.

Diving back into coaching: While coaching took a backseat to other life priorities the past few years, his recent return has been a reminder of why he started in the first place.

  • “I’ve always had the passion for coaching, but I’d say for the last three and a half years since I left Salt Lake City, I wasn’t coaching consistently at all and was just more focused on financially supporting my family,” said Hackenbruck, as he and his wife have been raising two young kids.
  • “I started coaching classes again consistently this year, because I missed it too much and realized how much I really love it,” Hackenbruck added.

Viva Las Vegas: After relocating to Las Vegas and connecting with Cotler, Hackenbruck decided to move towards coaching competitive athletes in the sport of fitness.

  • “I always saw coaching competitors as my hobby,” he said, noting that his primary focus used to be coaching classes.
  • Hackenbruck saw the opportunity with Cotler as a way to pursue his passion of coaching competitors.
  • “The stuff that gets me fired up and gets me to wake up at 4 am is seeing people have success in fitness,” he added.

How to raise an underdog: The transition from coaching affiliate classes to serious competitors is not something that Hackenbruck is unfamiliar with. The three-time Games competitor and 2012 Affiliate Cup champion knows what it takes to be at the top.

  • “The biggest difference is that the standard for competitors is much higher. You have to kind of push them beyond what they’re comfortable with and then again way beyond that,” he added.
  • “The competitors are trying to be the best in the world at what they do, so it’s getting them to believe that they are the best in the world at what they do and that takes a lot,” Hackenbruck continued.

Building a team of underdogs: After seeing the team that Cotler had created and the way the athletes were able to push each other, Hackenbruck knew he had to be part of it.

  • “Even though all the people here are individuals, I see a lot of similarities to when my team at CrossFit UTE were having a lot of success in winning. The ability to workout with people who have similar focus is unparalleled,” Hackenbruck said.

Why it matters: This year through Semifinals, we saw the power of training camps as many of those athletes rose to the top of the leaderboards. As training camps like Underdogs Athletics continue to grow not just in athletes, but in coaching and support staff, there could be incredible long term effects on the athletes who harness the power of these training camps to make themselves into better athletes.

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