July 15, 2014
A legend in the CrossFit community, Chris Spealler bids farewell to CrossFit Games competition in 2014. Andréa Maria Cecil examines the man and the myth.
It was Oct. 8, 1966, a Saturday. Iowa State University faced the University of Kansas in the Big 8 football conference.
The Cyclones had been having kickoff trouble, and the team was about to unveil its new weapon: a 5-foot-5 man weighing 126 lb. Like his teammates, he wore a regulation helmet, jersey and shoulder pads. But instead of regulation knee-length football pants, which were all too big for him, he wore blue shorts.
The Cyclones’ new kicker had three good kickoffs that day, scored a 36-yard field goal and succeeded on his only extra-point attempt. Iowa State had its first victory of the season. That kicker was also a Division 1 track-and-field athlete and gymnast. He went on to kick in a few preseason games for the Dallas Cowboys in 1967 and later made the U.S. field-hockey team. His name: Dave Spealler.
If it sounds familiar, it should. Spealler, now 69, is father of CrossFit legend Chris Spealler.
“There was nothing I couldn’t do athletically except for dunk a basketball, and basketball’s dumb anyway,” Dave quipped with a smile.
Spend some time with Dave and it’s easy to see from where Chris’ mentality comes, though the younger Spealler said he’s a good blend of both of his parents. For years, Chris—5 foot 5 and 150 lb.—has inspired countless in the global CrossFit community by doing things he shouldn’t be able to do on paper.
“It doesn’t even register that I look so different,” said Spealler, known as “Speal” since his college days of Division 1 wrestling at Loch Haven University in Pennsylvania.
“When I see a guy who’s 190 lb. lift, I think, ‘Dang it, I should be able to lift that.’”