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As I reflect on our first semester at CrossFit Ervin Elementary in southern Dallas, I’ve come to realize a couple of things:

1. I will miss these kids next semester.

Most of the athletes in my classes are in fifth grade, which means they will transition to middle school next semester. One of them is ecstatic that she gets to pursue her dream of becoming a meteorologist – a storm chaser, not a TV weather personality. She plans to attend Paul Quinn College after high school and then get her Masters. She is incredibly smart and picks up new ideas so quickly that she gets bored in class. Because of that, she’s been one of my special leaders since day one, which means she helps me set up, clean up, and demo movements. I can’t wait to see what she does with her life.

Another wants to grow up to be a fashion designer, has already picked out where she wants to go to school (in Paris, where else?), and is super nervous about fitting in at a new school.

Another wants to play college basketball at Kentucky (or Duke, he’s really ok with either). I am nervous and excited for them, and I will sorely miss them.

2. I have a lot to learn. That’s not a bad thing.

I can coach adult CrossFit classes reasonably well. As a CrossFit coach, I have spent countless hours developing my ability to see and correct movement faults, teach new movements, and communicate with my adult athletes in a class environment. I assumed that would transfer to coaching third graders.

Boy, was I wrong.

Sure, I can spot the half dozen movement faults in a nine-year-old’s air squat, but what good does it do me (or her) telling her about them? By pointing them out, I am telling her she’s failed. Not only has she failed; she feels she has disappointed me. What happens next time we practice air squats? Where will her mind be?

Instead, my mission is this: Find the ONE thing she’s doing right and hammer home how AWESOME it is that she is doing that ONE SPECIFIC THING well. So now my question is, how do I do that?

By being intentional.

By remembering that she is trying her hardest.

By taking into account that she may have failed a test, not eaten, seen her parents fight, or gotten in trouble with a teacher that day.

Her squat will improve over time with repetition and attention. Next time, she may do something else right, and I can encourage her to continue doing that as well.

In isolation, cuing movement positively or congratulating someone on good behavior is relatively easy. In the midst of a game of freeze tag, seeing and positively reinforcing specific movement elements or social behavior is infinitely harder.

But it is infinitely more valuable.

It is infinitely more valuable because it creates an atmosphere where kids can succeed, thrive, and learn to love themselves and each other. Creating that kind of environment for our kids demands that we be intentional;

It demands that we be compassionate and empathetic in our relationships with our athletes;

It demands that we never stop honing our craft;

It demands that we never forget the great honor it is to serve them as they grow into meteorologists, fashion designers, and basketball players.

Many of you have already joined us in this mission by giving your time or resources. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

For those of you who have not experienced a Kids' class or field day and would like to volunteer this fall, I would be personally very grateful. And I know the kids would be excited to meet you!

Best Regards,

Daniel Crisler

Founder & Executive Director

Volunteer HERE I Donate HERE

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