CrossFit Affiliates Weigh in on Firing of Dave Castro

January 10, 2022 by
Photo Credit: Syracuse Sweat Club
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Less than a week ago, Dave Castro was suddenly let go as the general manager of sport for CrossFit – a position only run by Castro since the inception of the Games 15 years ago. Since then, we’ve seen several people within the CrossFit community speak out about the news, most, not agreeing with CEO Eric Roza’s decision.

One big thing: With CrossFit Home Office looking to have another year of growth after gaining nearly 1,400 affiliates in 2021, it’s unlikely that the firing of Castro will have much direct impact to the majority of affiliates. However – for those who house high-level athletes, L1 seminar staff and longstanding affiliates, they too want answers.

What they’re saying: 

  • “I was extremely shocked and a bit upset. To me, Dave is the CrossFit Games and to have him not there just doesn’t feel right,” said Jason Leydon, founder and head trainer at CrossFit Milford.
  • Leydon has coached more than 30 Games athletes with over nine podium finishers, so he’s seen the direct impact Castro’s programming has had on athletes over the years.
  • “I have been at the Games since the ranch days, the first days in Carson and now in Madison. I have always enjoyed Dave, the workouts, the programming, the tests, and his dedication to finding the fittest.”
  • “Not having Dave there will be a change, as to what side the change will be on we will have to wait and see. It’s tough not knowing the details as to the why. I’m hoping the plan that they think is correct will be one that will keep CrossFit and the CrossFit Games on the right path, but at this moment it’s hard to see it without him being involved,” Leydon concluded.

Justin Peterson, co-owner of CrossFit Green Bay, has also been in the CrossFit space for some time. Starting CrossFit in 2011, he’s participated in the Open, Regionals and even qualified as a team at the Games in 2014.

  • It’s been a unique experience to watch the programming change and develop over the last decade. Dave has always tried to find new challenges to test fitness and many times I’ve been surprised at what he contrived. It’s definitely uncertain where the programming flow will go in terms of athlete modality preference, and I believe some athletes will miss that bonkers “Castro Flair” that Dave was exceptionally great at,” said Peterson.
  • While he doesn’t think Castro being fired will affect his members who solely participate in the Open – it’s the stages that follow where his uncertainty lies.
  • “None of us believe this will change the day-to-day vibe of our gym or even how we tackle the Open, but many of our Quarterfinal, Semifinal, and Games level athletes wonder how the stages of competition programming will be affected…We hope that Justin Bergh captures the essence that Dave had, but also brings a new taste of creativity for our athletes. A fresh eye never hurts,” Peterson concluded.

Andrew Essig opened CrossFit Gambit in 2009 and has sent athletes to the Games. Essig says when Eric Roza took over as CEO, he feared HQ would “clean house” as many companies do. But then firing Castro more than a year later, he’s wondering if that will now happen for other OG’s.

  • Now, with this news and no explanation, it’s hard not to think about that “cleaning house” mindset again. Dave may not be everyone’s favorite, but he built the Open and Games. He deserves more than an unceremonious firing,” said Essig.
  • Essign doesn’t seem like he’s against the decision for CrossFit to move in another direction, rather, he would like to see some kind of explanation as to where this decision came from.
  • “Dave isn’t irreplaceable, but I always imagined we’d see a changing of the guard. I’ve met the guys running HAM Plan/CAP and they’re totally capable of running the show. But, we don’t even know who’s taking over programming. Does the new Games Director take over that job? We know nothing at all right now,” concluded Essig.
  • As for the Open season – Essig does think not having Castro will affect it for his affiliate members – he just doesn’t yet know how.
  • “Of course this will affect the Open, I just hope it’s in a positive way. The Open has never been perfect, and I haven’t loved every event but that’s the beauty of it. Dave really understands how to challenge people and innovate while still getting the best of the best through to the next stage,”

The bottom line: While the firing of Castro may not affect affiliate growth or day to day structure, it’s more of a sentiment as to what direction CrossFit HQ is headed. No one truly knows if the decision to fire Castro was good or bad for the sport – but athletes, affiliates and community members do want to know why, and what’s next.
“I don’t think this is how any long-time affiliate owners would have imagined or wanted it to happen. Right now this feels like a misstep but time will tell. The community around CrossFit has been through a lot the last couple of years and we could use some positive changes and communication,” Essig concluded.

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