CrossFit Boston, I want to introduce you to one of our newest athletes—Elvon. He is a student from Brighton High School and taking part in our Fundamentals Program. Elvon is part of a pilot program started for Brighton High School students who have cognitive disabilities. About a month ago I received a call from an adaptive teacher from the Boston Public Schools, his name is Jason Meade. I was so impressed with the level of commitment he has for his student that I couldn’t say no.
What really hooked me is that Mr. Meade was previously a football coach and left that prestigious job to work with students like Elvon. I asked him if he didn’t prefer to work in a job with more status and his reply made me smile for days. “I use to think like that, but then I met these kids. When they turn 19 they have less and less activities available to them. Do you think you can help Elvon?”
The question isn’t can I help, it’s how do we make this work. I decided it was best for Elvon to have private training for at least the first 15 sessions. All it costs is my time and I figured that I could find 1-2 more hours a week for Elvon. If I can help him learn the movements and become acclimated to the gym environment he will be ready for group training. In August we switched our point of entry for all athletes to our Fundamentals Program. I’ve seen how well this has worked for the newest members and I thought I would give this a try with Elvon. It’s working!!
Just three weeks in he has already been welcomed by many of the CrossFit Boston athletes. He smiles all the time and when I ask him if he liked the training he says a resounding, “yes, I like a lot.” Elvon arrived in our country two years ago and doesn’t have strong verbal skills but I know that he is absorbing everything going on around him. In our first session I was trying to teach him the concept of full range of motion. He got it with the push-ups and proved to be balanced and strong. On the pull-ups however he couldn’t understand why I was telling him they didn’t count if he didn’t fully extend his arms. He never gets frustrated but I was wondering how to best communicate what I meant. Using complicated sentences and long explanations isn’t an option. I emailed his teacher, Mr. Meade, the weekly report and explained the situation. On Saturday when we went to work on pull ups Elvon smiled and said “Coach tell me to go full down.” Yes! He got it and he was proud that he understood what I was trying to explain. Next on the list, start to teach him to kip.
We are moving into the power movements next. I’m a little worried I won’t be able to correctly explain how to explode the hips open. We have language differences and I don’t even know his cultural background. Not sure which words will trigger an understanding but I think with patience Elvon will be performing a power clean in 4 more weeks. He was able to perform the deadlift and shoulder press with few cue words and tactical cuing.
I became a coach to help kids like Elvon. I can picture him someday taking Olympic lifting with Coach Julie. I can’t help it, I like to dream BIG!