Cassidy Lance-McWherter (yep! she’s married now) made it to the Games three consecutive years from 2013 – 2015 with her best in 2014 finishing 8th. Last year, however, Lance fell just nine points short of qualifying for her fourth consecutive Games appearance at the Atlantic Regional.
I sat down with Lance to discuss missing the Games, her time with the demo team and what she’s been up to this off-season, including opening her gym CrossFit Waterside. Oh, and she’s a big fan of dumbbells and her gym is ready for them.
The Barbell Spin: Talking about the 2016 Regionals, what was your mindset once you realized you fell 9 points short?
Cassidy: Right after, I think I was more in shock of, I guess I expected to go and I didn’t and my name didn’t hit that top 5. It was like…is this real? Hold on, the points haven’t laid it all out. And then walking back with my coach, I don’t think we said two words to each other for an hour because it was just unexpected. There was really no thoughts right after. It was just…that sucked.
We worked together to get my mind back ready to go for the following season, if I wanted to do the following season.
The Barbell Spin: After that, did you go right back into training or did you let your body rest?
Cassidy: No, my coach and I had a talk a week later and we discussed everything and decided I needed a good long offseason. We worked together to get my mind back ready to go for the following season, if I wanted to do the following season. Because at that point, I didn’t know if I wanted to go to that pain level, take another year to train. You know, you never know…it’s kind of gambling on your career. Are you going to make it or are you not going to make it? And then training all the way for what? That would be two years training non-stop. So we decided to take a long offseason. He said go do some class WODs. Go have fun. Go make sure you’re doing all of this for the right reason and have a fun experience getting back into CrossFit. Go back to why you started CrossFit. And why did we start CrossFit? Because it’s a community, we’re building together, we’re enjoying each other’s company, we enjoy working together as one and enjoying the process. I probably did class WODs for a good 2-3 months.
The Barbell Spin: That takes you close to the Games. You were on the demo team. How did that come about? When did Dave Castro ask you to be on the team? Talk a little about that experience.
Yeah, Dave reached out and asked me. At first, I was kind of embarrassed. Like, okay, well I guess I’ll go and see if I really want to be there and see if next year is something I really want to strive for. As I was flying out it felt really surreal. I asked myself, what am I doing? I was in the mindset of…I shouldn’t be going because I didn’t qualify, so why should I get this opportunity to be on the demo team.
And then I took it as I get to learn the backside of CrossFit. I can learn about everything I haven’t seen before. Not just from the athlete standpoint, but also the business side. What goes into the WODs, what does Dave do, what do the volunteers do. I thought that was really cool because I’ve never been on that side before. They do a lot of work for the athletes and the community. They work all year long. It was a really good experience to see that side.
The Barbell Spin: As for demoing the events, are you finding those things out at the last minute? How much are doing?
Cassidy: We did A LOT of the workouts. We did a lot of the team workouts multiple times, just to get the timing down. The one that they went down the field moving the equipment, we had to do that one so many different times testing out different strategies. Honestly, I don’t even remember what the final workout was because we had done it so many different times and Dave would never tell us how he was going to implement it. We were failing on muscle-ups because we had done so many.
The Barbell Spin: So the Games are over, you said you had contemplated whether you wanted to train again. It’s August, have you decided to make another run at 2017 or are you playing it by ear?
Cassidy: No, in August I was still relaxing, spending time on the boat. We did our batchelorette party because we were getting ready for the wedding. Chad, Dave and Matt were still programming for me, but it was about three days a week programming. I think I lifted four days a week at this point just to keep everything going and then Matt gave me a couple WODs per week. Others were just the class. So no, it wasn’t full training yet.
The Barbell Spin: Who are your coaches?
Cassidy: Matt McCraney is out of Texas and does all of the conditioning. Chad Vaughn does the Olympic Lifting and Dave Durante programs the gymnastics.
The Barbell Spin: What does a typical day look like for your right now? Does it change over the course of the offseason?
Cassidy: It has changed because I opened a gym about three weeks ago. Right now I’m waking up at 4:40AM and teach classes until 10am. Then I train from 10am to around 1-2pm depending on whether people drop-in during that time. I try to get done by 1 so I can get some work done so I can get back for the 5:30pm class.
Before that, I was coaching gymnastics and just training.
The Barbell Spin: How many hours are you at the gym?
Cassidy: Well, right now, I’m there from 6 in the morning until about 7 at night!
The Barbell Spin: How much of that is training versus running your gym?
Cassidy: I try to get in at least 2-3 good hours of training. Monday, Wednesday and Friday is a little bit more because I have gymnastics those days. Tuesday is less because it’s only weightlifting and conditioning. Thursday and Sunday are off.
The goal is to make it back to the Games and do really well at Regionals.
The Barbell Spin: Have you had any injuries or setbacks this year?
Cassidy: No. I have a really good mobility program that I follow in addition to my coaching. I think at this point I know my body really well. So taking care of it and eating well I’ve been pretty healthy.
The Barbell Spin: What are your expectations/goals this year?
Cassidy: The goal is to make it back to the Games and do really well at Regionals. I don’t want to just get top 5. I want to win Regionals and I want to do really well at the Games. I was 8th in 2014 so it would be nice to get back to the top 10.
The Barbell Spin: How do you approach the Open? It’s gotten much more difficult with the ‘Super Regional’ format. You’ve always done well in Open, but you can’t overlook it any more. How do you balance doing enough for the Open versus being ready to compete at Regionals?
Cassidy: Every year is a little bit different. So last year I did the Open workouts on Friday morning so I could still get a full day’s worth of training. But this year I only have a judge on Saturday mornings so I’m going to do them then. I’m going to let my coaches lead that way. They are going to give me the programming and I’m going to just trust them.
I’ve worked with Matt for 6 years and Matt and Chad for 3 years. I’m just going to trust them and follow that programming. It’s worked so far. I’m not going to overthink it. They do all the strategic stuff on their end and I just have to execute.
The Barbell Spin: Have you focused on anything more this offseason to close any weaknesses?
Cassidy: I think some of the points I really focused on are the mental side. I’m working on looking at the working and diving right into it. Like a mile run rather than thinking “oh I’m terrible at running”, just go and know I’m going to get better. I think in the past I looked at workouts and went a little slower so I can push later. But that’s not going to help my weaknesses so I’m really trying to just get moving.
The Barbell Spin: Who do you train with?
Cassidy: I have some really good training partners, but some days I train by myself. I train a lot with Ryan Elrod. He works on Cirque du Soleil and he competed on the DC Brawlers. We work really well together. When I can beat him I’m really excited.
The Barbell Spin: What is your ‘why’ when you’re competing?
Cassidy: The ‘why’. Yeah, that’s a big thing. My why is because when I grew up doing gymnastics and there was always someone to hold you back. There would be a judge that didn’t give you a perfect score or a coach wouldn’t let you work on that skill. CrossFit is all about how much I work. It’s me against the clock against any one else. A judge might call a no-rep, but that’s because I wasn’t executing it correctly. But if I can execute it correctly and put that intensity in, then that’s the reason why I’m doing it…because I can work.
The Barbell Spin: How long do you see yourself competing at this level?
Cassidy: Now with the addition of the 35-39 masters divisions and the ability to go team, I think everyone wants to compete. Isn’t that why we started CrossFit and started doing CrossFit competitions? We want to be that kid again that competes.
I have the most dumbbells! I actually really love dumbbell programming.
The Barbell Spin: Outside of competing, what is your gym doing for the Open?
Cassidy: We’re a new gym just three weeks into it. So we’re just working to build membership and people are just starting to realize that we’re open. We are doing a 17.3 Friday Night Lights and TEN Institute, Kinetik and we’re getting paleo meals catered. We’re going to have a keg and have a party with the community we have.
The Barbell Spin: As a new gym, do you have a bunch of dumbbells lined up?
Cassidy: I have the most dumbbells! I actually really love dumbbell programming. So those were one of the first things I purchased for the gym, people asked ‘why are you buying those?’ Because you can do so much with dumbbells. I don’t just need 10,000 barbells. I can have 10,000 dumbbells and we can do 20 different movements. Everyone just looked at me crazy, but now I don’t have to buy dumbbells.