By Maureen O’Hagan

In Coaching, CrossFit Games

October 01, 2014

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Maureen O’Hagan examines the dearth of females in the upper ranks of CrossFit coaches.

Pop quiz: Name three people who coach CrossFit Games athletes.

If you follow the Sport of Fitness at all, you’ll have no trouble. Bergeron. Martin. Chapman. Hyland. And so on.

Now for Part 2: Name three top female coaches—that is, women who coach Games athletes.

We posed this question to nearly a dozen longtime CrossFitters, and here’s what they came up with:

Eva Claire Synkowski, said two-time Games competitor Annie Sakamoto. Eva Claire Synkowski, said Hollis Molloy of CrossFit Santa Cruz. Eva Claire Synkowski, said Ben Bergeron of CrossFit New England. But beyond “E.C.” Synkowski, Bergeron just scratched his head.

“I can’t name another female that coaches a Games-level athlete,” he said. “Which is really kind of shocking.”

So where are all the female coaches?

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2 Comments on “Coach.”


Dale Saran wrote …


I would have come up with some other guesses, even if they didn't actually coach Games athletes. I know Annie Sakamoto helped Mikko Salo with double-unders (and the loan of a rope, as I recall) right before the final chipper of the 2009 Games (which he won). I think he had also spent some time at their gym in SC for a week before the Games. I can think of a lot of great female coaches, both in specialty seminars and CF. I find the female coaches tend to be (as a population) more likely to know some helpful tips for my handstand problems than a lot of male coaches. Odds are they've got a background in gymnastics; statistically less likely to find a male CF coach with a strong gymnastics background.

There may be one other social aspect we're not considering, too. Maybe women find less interest in coaching "competitive fitness" in the same way that fewer women watch sport in general. ESPN and its advertisers know this for certain; look at who the ads target.

It's an interesting question but we should be sure that we're not importing unstated premises and assumptions that may predispose us to address a "problem" that doesn't exist - or isn't at all related to the supposed harm - (the historical barring of women from participation in sports). In CF, women have been at the front and center of the revolution, both in coaching, and in participation (at least by some estimates I've seen).

Certainly there's an entire crop of veteran female Games athletes coming down the pike in a few years that both men and women will line up to hear on programming, nutrition, preparation, etc. Would anyone not care to hear what someone like Becca Voight, Julie Foucher, or Annie Thorisdottir, or Camille, or Annie Sakamoto for that fact - has to say about how to prepare to make the Games?


wrote …

Thank you for writing this article. As a graduate student I wrote a paper focusing on the lack of female administration and coaches in the NCAA. Although the numbers have been growing, there is still an unhealthy presence. Many of it goes back to the extreme loss of life balance that is required when committing to collegiate athletics. I believe that much of it bleeds from those in charge that are still under "Good Ol' Boys" mentality.

It was refreshing to see an article highlighting EC, as she was my level 1 coach and by far the greatest speaker I have heard to date. She captivates a room and is so knowledgeable that you cannot help but want to move to MA and workout at Reebok. I hope to see a rise of female coaches at the top.

Thank you for posting this article. This is the push I needed to get my level 2. I'll just have to sell my furniture first :)

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