Michelle Kinney finds perfect match

Courtesy CrossFit, Inc

Former softball, track and football player Michelle Kinney still gets goosebumps when she thinks back to her first CrossFit Games.

A little of this and a little of that led Michelle Kinney to a lot of success in the world of CrossFit.

The dabbling started on the diamond. Kinney was starring on the Saint Benedict at Auburndale (Tenn.) high school softball team when her coach laid down the law: all players had to join the cross country team in the fall to stay in shape.

Kinney took it a step further. She picked up all-metro and all-state honors in cross country for three consecutive years and was recruited by Mississippi State to compete in track and cross country.

After her freshman year, in which she received all-SEC honors in the javelin throw, Kinney decided to return to the softball diamond and, to nobody's surprise, made the team. She became a regular starter and earned three letters for the Bulldogs.

After college, Kinney graduated to yet another sport, briefly playing for the Memphis Belles, a semiprofessional tackle football team. It was around that time that she caught wind of the emerging sport of CrossFit.

"With distance running I could put my head down and just grind, but I was also pretty strong," the 29-year-old said. "With that baseline strength and endurance ability, CrossFit just made sense for me."

During her first foray into CrossFit, she could do 10 pull-ups right off the bat.

"After beating everyone in the gym that first day, I walked out of there with my head high, feeling pretty proud," she said.

It didn't last long.

"The next day I got my butt handed to me," she said. "That ignited my competitive spirit because I knew I couldn't let that happen again."

As she waded into CrossFit competitions, she quickly earned her first berth to the CrossFit Games after winning the Southeast Regional in 2010.

That was the moment she knew the sport would be a big part of her life for a long time to come.

"It gives me goosebumps thinking about it," she said of those Games. "I was surrounded by these former Games champs who I admired. I was starstruck. I just tried to keep my cool and act like I'd been there before."

As she competes in her third Games this week, she says the challenge of learning so many different disciplines keeps her hungry for more.

"If I was good at everything, I'd get bored with it," she said. "Whether it's endurance, a barbell movement or gymnastics moves, it's cool to be in that constant pursuit to get better at everything."

Her desire to get better lends itself well to her day job, which is running her own affiliate gym.

"It's great to be able to introduce people to CrossFit, especially women, because we often have the idea that it's not pretty to be strong," she said. "I like to challenge that mindset and show that it's not just about the way you look, but also how you feel and perform."

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