Chalk It Up To Greatness: Fee Saghafi
Fee Saghafi’s power is her joy. Her smile radiates a heart of gold and everyone within a football field radius can feel it. As a college freshman in 2014, Fee became intrigued by CrossFit after watching “Beauty in Strength.” She signed up for her first CrossFit class and it was love at first wod.
However, the path of a CrossFit athlete was not expected for Saghafi. Violin prodigy to a medical doctor was the planned route but her inner athlete intercepted. While fiddlin away every Saturday in her youth, she longed to be playing football with the boys.
Fee’s exuberant spirit along with hard work took her to the CrossFit Games in 2019 where she placed 24th. After falling short of making the Games the last few years, she is gunnin for it in 2023. With her fiance and family supporting her, she transitioned from Scott Panchik's CrossFit Mentality in Ohio to Naples, FL to train full time with Matt Torres and the Brute Strength Crew. No doubt, Fee’s effervescence and resourcefulness will continue her rise to the top.
Life didn’t go the way Fee thought it would. It went exactly the way it was meant to. Fee shares with us the mindset that keeps you listening to your heart and on track to greatness.
Fee, Congratulations on your recent engagement to Alex Ferrara. Your wedding is set for August after the Games. How are you managing emotions around the wedding and training for the CrossFit games?
FS: Planning a wedding and preparing for the CrossFit Games is not something I saw coming simultaneously and it’s extremely tough. Most days I forget I have a wedding coming up the week after the games- my main focus seems to be Crossfit Games and THEN the wedding! A lot of the time in between training is dedicated to tending to wedding details but to be quite honest, my fiance has been the biggest help through all of this and has taken on about 90% of those responsibilities off my shoulders! Roles have been reversed!
How has training in Naples with Brute Strength impacted you as an athlete?
FS: Since making the move to Naples my training has elevated in every way. How I recover, my intensity, and mainly how quickly I am able to receive coaching, feedback, and program adjustments within each session from Matt. Being surrounded by an elite training environment alongside some of the best training partners to push with is everything I needed to continue to take strides forward in my athletic career
My biggest accomplishment to date has been pursuing a dream that was once a hobby and getting to pursue it as a full time career which has brought incredible relationships in my life.Feeroozeh Saghafi
Who on your team brings out your sense of humor?
FS: My team isn’t just my training partners and coach but also the family that stays in my corner. My fiance, Alex Ferrara, has always been on my side through tough training days, and despite the stress he always finds a way to ground me and bring on the laughs throughout the day! It’s so important to me to have people I love understand what I do but also help me relax, laugh at the little things, and enjoy the most simple moments inside and outside of the gym.
James Sprague and I share similar personalities- big, bright, and positive energy from start to finish! The seasons that I began training alone were very tough. Not sharing silly moments, thoughts, laughter, and energy with others made training very lonely. The spark wasn’t as strong because I wasn’t alongside friends that helped feed that. James is the person in training that always makes me laugh the hardest but also makes it a point to keep me incredibly encouraged when I’m feeling down. I would say we have a little brother and big sister friendship that is as solid as they come!
Also, my coach Matt Torres is so much more than that. He has become an incredible friend and mentor. Matt makes tough training sessions still the part of my day that I always look forward to the most because I know not only will I be receiving the best attention but I will always be able to be myself, crack jokes, be silly, and have fun. I think that’s why I have been able to stick with it as long as I have- I’ve always found myself surrounded by people that make incredibly hard work still the most enjoyable and fulfilling.
How does your intuition guide you during a competition?
FS: Something that continues to improve is my confidence and how I handle adversity throughout tough weekends- whether it’s moments people have seen on camera or behind the scenes struggles like injury or sickness that I’ve needed to quickly overcome before taking the floor. My intuition during competition always goes back to what has been ingrained in me from training, what I have learned over the years from my coaches and mentors, and my past experiences which have become the biggest lessons I continue to carry with me. When the going gets tough I don’t necessarily do things I’ve never done before, I react and perform in ways that sink to the level of my training.
In what ways do you express yourself creatively?
FS: For the longest time I played the violin, I began when I was 4 years old and played 14 years. I was involved very deeply in private lessons at the Cleveland Institute of music, music theory at the Cleveland Music Settlement, orchestra, and chamber group. I stopped because of chronic wrist pain. Since moving away from home and spending more time with myself, I’ve missed playing the violin even more.
What are you most proud of?
FS: I have never won big shiny gold medals, stood on top of a podium consistently, or have a career making some big time income. My biggest accomplishment to date has been pursuing a dream that was once a hobby and getting to pursue it as a full time career which has brought incredible relationships in my life. I know this is an extremely short chapter of my life, it won’t last long and competing is not what I will be doing forever. What it has brought me are lessons and a level of joy that some people don’t ever get to experience. It has allowed me to create a foundation to build off of and stay in pursuit of other things when this chapter comes to a close. This type of accomplishment has changed and redirected the course of my life in ways that I never saw coming, and for that I’m extremely grateful and proud!
What do you tell yourself (or do) when you meet a challenge?
FS: When I meet a challenge, whether in life or within sport, I typically go through a mental checklist of what I have to do- this is a constant dialogue I have in situations like these:
- What exactly is the challenge?
- What is the response I need to make that is going to help me take one step forward?
- What isn’t in my control?
- What actions are in my control?
- What is the first thing in front of me that I can focus on working towards?
How does your mindset help you grow and evolve through difficulty?
FS: When I compete, when I struggle, and when I need to carry extra weight on my shoulders... Instead of leaning into the thoughts that push me down, I lean into my prayer, I lean into gratitude, I lean into thinking about the people I love and how grateful I am to be growing in whatever moment I’m going through.
There is power in choosing to lean on the thoughts that fuel you and help you rise again, and for me it has always been about my FAMILY.
How can the community support you?
FS: The community can support me the best by following my journey on instagram and sharing their own words of encouragement, experiences, love, and support. I love connecting with followers near and far! Also, keep an eye for my own personal barbell coming out soon from Lycan Fitness. Purchasing this barbell will not only help me but funds will go to a special non-profit organization based out of Cleveland, OH called Buddy Strong Academy. This organization aims to provide valuable resources to those families in the special needs community, including adaptive fitness classes, social events and community engagement.
Fee Saghafi will be competing in the North American East Semifinal May 18 - 21 in Orlando, Florida. Cheer her on to victory and follow her journey on Insta @fee.saghafi