Mayhem’s Seth Stovall on Van Life, Saying Goodbye to the Worm, and Going Individual

April 2, 2023 by
Image Credit: Ava Kitzi
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21-year-old Seth Stovall has already paid his dues in the CrossFit world–moved to Cookeville, Tennessee from his home in California to train at CrossFit Mayhem, lived out of a van through the warmest days and coldest nights, and worked night shifts to fund his upcoming athletic career. However, coming off his rookie year at the CrossFit Games (where he competed on team Mayhem Independence), Stovall is poised and hungry to start his career in the individual division. 

  • “I don’t think (qualifying for the CrossFit Games) is the main goal this year. It’s really just to put my best foot forward,” Stovall said. Since his team from last year all went separate ways, he’s changed up his strategy and started working with Mayhem coach Jake Foster. “It’s a whole learning experience, I’m just learning day by day.”

Of course, there are some growing pains associated with this change, but Stovall says he and his team have taken them all in stride. He says that after he made the choice to go individual, he sat down with Foster and Rich Froning to plan out how he can build on of the foundation he started in the 2022 season. 

  • “Last year was a learning experience for sure. I didn’t know what kind of athlete I was,” Stovall said. “So going into this season, just learning from whatever weaknesses I had last year and really attacking them.”

Stovall cruised through the 2023 Quarterfinals with a 53rd-place finish in the North American East region and will compete in Semifinals next month in Orlando, Florida. He says that his training has largely remained the same since his goals changed, but that the lack of synchro and Worm work has been refreshing, and he says, “I never want to touch that worm again in my life, I really do not.”

Another big change Stovall is making this season? Moving out of his van and into an apartment. He made his home on wheels work when he couldn’t afford anything else after moving to Cookeville, but knew it wasn’t a forever solution. The logistics and hardships of trying to sustain elite performance while living in a sweltering hot or ice-cold van (depending on the time of year) weren’t exactly working in his favor. 

  • “When I would wake up in the morning, sometimes I legitimately could not feel my toes no matter how many layers I put on, I couldn’t get warm enough. And even in the summer when it gets really humid, I would lay on the floor sweating in the middle of the night,” Stovall recalled. “So my recovery, you can imagine how terrible it was.”

Despite everything he’s experienced in the van life, Stovall says he’s grateful for the experience. And even now that he’s moving away from living there full-time, he still drives it every day and won’t rule out going back to it.

Stovall’s way out of the van life came through Froning’s mother, who put him in contact with a local tanning salon that needed someone to work the night shifts. As a California native and in need of a job, Stovall jumped at the opportunity, which he says he feels very blessed and grateful for. While he says the night shifts and cramped schedule during the day aren’t ideal for his ultimate athletic goals, he knows it’s a step in the right direction and will keep him afloat while he remains a relatively unknown athlete. 

With an apartment with his name on it and North America East Semifinals coming up, Stovall has a busy few months ahead of him, and he’s ready to set his individual career off on the right foot.

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