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Hear Her Roar by Andréa Maria Cecil - CrossFit Journal

Hear Her Roar

By Andréa Maria Cecil

In Olympic Lifts

March 03, 2011

PDF Article

Karyn Marshall, the first woman to clean and jerk more than 300 lb., has joined CrossFit Shrewsbury in New Jersey as a member and coach. Like most endeavors in her life, she’s attacking CrossFit at nothing less than full force.

On Aug. 17, Karyn Marshall walked into CrossFit Shrewsbury without fanfare.

She had come to inquire about the training methodology; one of her chiropractic patients had told her about it, and it caught her attention.

So before her scheduled trip to Norway a few days later, she stopped in and “just introduced myself,” she said.

There, Marshall met Stefanie Hicks, co-owner of the affiliate in the New Jersey borough roughly 50 miles south of New York City and about a mile from the Atlantic Ocean.

“I told her who I was (and that I was) interested in CrossFit,” Marshall said.

But when she made the acquaintance, Marshall omitted some details.

“When she walked in the door, she had a presence,” Hicks said of the 5-foot-10, 175-lb. woman. “I knew she was somebody; I just didn’t know who she was.”

When Marshall left, Hicks hopped on the Internet.

“I looked her up and was like, ‘Oh my God!’” Hicks said.

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29 Comments on “Hear Her Roar”


wrote …

What an amazing story! Thank you so much for bringing her life to the CFJ for all of us to learn from and appreciate. That is inspirational!


replied to comment from Pat Sherwood

@Pat Sherwood Thank you for reading. It was a fun article to report and write. :)


wrote …

I hope she competes in the Games!


wrote …

Great article, very inspiring. Good luck Karyn!


replied to comment from Mike Erickson

Glad you liked it, Mike. :)


wrote …

what an awesome story!


wrote …



wrote …

I am originally from Red Bank and still have family in that area. One more reason to visit. Great work.


wrote …

that was a terrific article - thank you.

Any idea whether Karyn wants to enter the CF Games Masters division? that would be pretty cool


wrote …

Andrea, nice job on the story. I look forward to watching Karyn coaching in many future Journal videos. Somebody's filming her, right?


wrote …

That was one of the best articles I've read in the CFJ. Very inspirational. I hope to see some videos of Karyn coaching and competing.


replied to comment from Michael Riggs

@Michael Riggs Thank you. :) I don't know if anyone from CFJ is filming her, but it's an idea! :)


replied to comment from Adam Rashid

@Adam Rashid Thank you so much. :)


wrote …

Very cool, and well written. I'd love to train with a lady like that! Love the layout too, I hope this is a permanent feature!


wrote …

Thanks for doing such a great job writing this article, Andrea. Thanks to all for the kind comments, I appreciate them! I hope to be ready to compete at the Games someday soon! Masters of course! Really enjoy the Crossfit community. No requests for films yet but maybe someday on that, too!


wrote …

Amazing life story -- and indeed very inspirational!! Karyn, Congratulations on the Hall of Fame at the Arnold this weekend! Come on over to the CF competition - give us some pointers! :)


replied to comment from John Nisbet

Second congratulations to you on the HOF! The article is phenomenal and I found a new hero to appreciate in Karyn! Thanks for writing and sharing the article Andrea :)


wrote …

Amazing and inspiring! Thank you for sharing.

Good Luck Karyn!


wrote …

Wow, a very inspiring lady. I've been CFing for a little over a year, only 2-3 times per week, but nevertheless I've experienced incredible results (I started CF as a long time endurance athlete who had very good base aerobic fitness, but was pathetic at anything else) . For most of that time I've put off O-lifting technique as something I would focus on later, once I gained more general strength. However, I'm happy to say that my clean at least has improved substantially since I started working on it more seriously in January. Next, I just need to focus more on the snatch.....

There's a weightlifting competition coming up in a couple of months at my gym. I've been toying with the idea of entering, just on a lark. There's probably a good chance I'd come in last, but whatever. How often does a four time marathoner get to say that they've also competed in weightlifting?! Reading about this lady may just put me over the edge....

I didn't realize until I read this article that women didn't compete in the Olympics until 2000. During those Olympics I clipped a newspaper photo of a Canadian female lifter completing a lift. I was 24 at the time, and found this photo of a beaming young woman like me holding a huge weight over her head completely mesmerizing. I even went online to find the athlete's web page to read about her story. My thinking at the time was, despite how cool weightlifting looked, it was too bad there was no way I would ever be able to get into it - because how would an average person like me even begin to learn how to lift? And besides, I was surely too old to start........

I kept the photo anyways, and happened to find it recently.

This to me is the wonder of Crossfit - a philosophy so natural, so instinctive, that any person, of any age, of any fitness background (even a recovering marathoner!), can contemplate entering a weightlifting competition, after training three times a week for a year, on top of a busy professional career....

I am so grateful. I am truly living a dream.


replied to comment from Tracy Garner

Congratulations Tracy! Good luck at the weightlifting competition (wink wink)! I enjoyed reading your post it is truly inspiring to realize the great impact Crossfit can have on so many people! I appreciate you sharing your story! Keep it up...3...2...1...GO!


Keith Wittenstein wrote …



wrote …

Hey, great article! Karyn, great meeting you (via the article); thanks for all you do!
Andrea, nice job, really like the layout and flow.


replied to comment from Kevin Daigle

@Kevin Daigle Thank you. :) I like the layout, too.


replied to comment from Karyn Marshall

@Karyn Marshall Sure thing. It was fun. :)


replied to comment from David Cho

@David Cho Sure thing. :)


replied to comment from Jeffrey Johnson

@Jeffrey Johnson Thank you very much. :)


replied to comment from Tracy Garner

@Tracy Garner Thank you for sharing your story. :) I know the feeling. I started focusing on the Olympic lifts in June of last year after doing CrossFit since Feb. 2008. I love it. And I never thought a girl like me — skinny, with only a history of running and soccer — would ever be able to lift anything remotely heavy overhead. It's a good feeling. Good luck with all that you do, Tracy. Knock 'em dead! :)


William Fairchild wrote …

Great article. Thanks!


wrote …

Wow amazing story and great comments all. This isn't just fitness anymore, CrossFit has turned into a way to be a shining example of unity to the rest of the world. I can relate to everyone's comments about being unbalanced before I found CrossFit. Too much powerlifting with too little coaching (and maybe a bit too much pizza) turned me into a 275 pound 26 year old with lots of muscle and lots of high blood pressure to go along with it. CrossFitting for over a year now and coaching at my own gym I'm a healthy and happy 240 lbs no more bad blood pressure. Stronger than I ever was at 275 and able to run like a deer again. Karyn's story has got me all fired up to go p.r. on my behind the neck jerks today! Thanks to everyone involved keep up the great work!

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