Equipment Team Volunteers: The Unsung Heroes of Semifinals
Week three of semifinals has come to a close and the fourth and final weekend of excitement until the next stage of competition is looming. Thus far we’ve seen jaw-dropping PRs, big lifts, tears of joy as first-timers punch their ticket to Madison and finishes that come down to tenths of a second. However, if you’re not paying attention, you might miss the bursts of magic that happen between the events on the floor.
The equipment team is one of many groups of volunteers who work tirelessly for hours on end to make an event run as well as it does. They show up rain or shine, do so on their own dime, and literally set the stage for the fittest in the world.
Ensuring small details are taken care of is not for the faint of heart; double-checking weights, rolling barbells, placing sandbags, maneuvering a dozen worms, setting up and tearing down a rig (or multiple), rolling out Echo bikes, tightening clips and carrying dumbbells back and forth are just a handful of the tasks you’ll see the equipment team tackling throughout the weekend; and somehow, all with a smile.
“I didn’t expect the excitement from the equipment team. Although we’re doing manual labor, everyone’s happy to be a part of it,” said Terrence Banks, who was an equipment team volunteer at the Granite Games this past weekend in Eagan, MN.
After CrossFitting for five years, Banks decided to hit the ground running and volunteer at MACC and Syndicate Crown in Knoxville, and most recently got to show up and work hard at the Granite Games.
“I wanted to volunteer because I want to give back and (do) whatever I can do to help promote CrossFit and move it forward — volunteering was the easiest way to do that,” he said. “It’s also a cool way to see the athletes in person, and that’s exciting.”
Michael Nguyen, the Equipment lead at the Granite Games, has been working on the logistical side of these events in multiple capacities for nearly a decade now.
“I started in 2013 as a volunteer and that same year I was moved into a logistics role. It was all being part of something bigger and knowing that I had a hand in it,” Nguyen said.
For first-time volunteer Alyssa Larson, bringing the semifinal to her own backyard was the push she needed to jump in the ring. “I actually competed a few years ago at the Granite Games on a community team, and I live in Minneapolis and am close by so I wanted to give back and help out, and I love CrossFit,” Larson said.
In between events in a tent to the side of the field, you can see dozens of green shirts running around getting set for the next scene. The moment the event ends and the buzzer sounds, they sprint to the field in unison and make adjustments or swap out equipment, and seemingly race each other back to their home base. It’s a dance they learn on day one and are expected to execute immediately.
“I wanted to give back and help out, and I love CrossFit.”Alyssa Larson, Granite Games Volunteer
“On a logistics standpoint, whether it’s branding and setting up the whole event, or running a 45lb plate clear across the field to make sure the barbell is loaded properly, the pre-planning and execution from a ragtag group of volunteers that may or may not have done the job before is the most exciting part,” Nguyen said. “Empowering volunteers with the ability of saying ‘I did that’ — that’s why I ended up on the equipment team.”
For Julia Nino, who’s been helping with events for three years and supported Nguyen on the Equipment Lead team at the Granite Games, tired feet is a small price to pay to contribute to the competition. “Bring insoles because your feet will hurt, (and come) prepared to work hard. And, (we) have fun — that’s what it is all about. We have the best seats in the house,” she said.
If you’re considering volunteering for an event, it can be a great way to see another side of the sport, get your workout in, contribute to the community and meet like-minded folks. There are multiple volunteer teams available for each semifinal, supporting events (i.e. Wodapalooza, Rogue Invitational) and the CrossFit Games. To sign-up to volunteer, check the specific event website online. Applications are typically available a couple months prior, however sometimes last minute hands are needed as well.
“It’s a lot more fun than it looks…it’s very rewarding at the end of the day and it’s a good experience to say you were a part of,” Banks said. “If nothing else, you’ll make friends (by) being a part of the volunteer staff. Why not make new friends who also love CrossFit?”
Those interested in volunteering for the 2022 CrossFit Games should register as soon as possible, as Event Team positions are expected to be determined June 12.