A guest post by the Head Coach and Owner of CrossFit 1Force
I joined CrossFit Tribe in 2009, and Steve Liberati was the owner and head coach. We shared the box with his real passion, Steve’s Club Camden. He opened his doors everyday from 4-5pm to the young kids of Camden free of charge. We were happy to mentor the kids, and they were even happier to crush us in workouts. It was awesome watching them escape the harsh reality of their hometown at our box.
Those first years of CrossFit were some of my happiest. In 2010, I was on a Tribe team that competed at the Games, and of course the kids came too. It was the first time they had ever been on a plane. The experience would not have been the same without them.
The next year I opened CrossFit 1Force, an affiliate in West Deptford, NJ. Since Steve’s Club is closed on the weekends, I have an open door policy at 1Force. Steve’s Club athletes can train with our team whenever they want, and we love having them. During the CrossFIt OPEN, they’d hit the WOD once during the week at Steve’s Club and then again at 1Force on the weekend so they could run against our best athletes. The kids often win, but my members win too by drawing inspiration from these awesome athletes.
Ray Negron was a stand out Steve's Club athlete from the very beginning. A legit CrossFitter in his own right, Ray rose to the top of the pack as a strong leader and a wonderful example for the other kids. After he became L1 Certified, he started leading warm ups at Steve's Club Camden, teaching strength and eventually coaching classes on his own. Ray aspires to own a box someday. When Steve suggested I offer Ray an internship on my staff, I did not hesitate.
Our intern program at 1Force is pretty tough. Coaches have to shadow 2-3 times weekly and complete an additional hour of box maintenance until they are ready to lead class. This process is never shorter than one year. During Ray’s internship, I received countless compliments about what a great guy and knowledgeable coach he was. Ray never complained about the hours, or the lack of pay, but instead thanked us repeatedly for the chance to learn in such a large community. Once we had a spot open, my wife Erin and I were so excited to welcome Ray as an official member of our coaching staff.
Ray now runs Sunday mornings at 1Force, coaching CrossFit and Endurance back to back. The adult members there are used to having excellent coaching, and Ray fit right in.
Having Sundays free to be with my family is truly a gift, and knowing that my 1Force family is taken care of gives me great peace of mind. Ray has a young family of his own, and he looks at every opportunity to work as a way to provide for the future of his young son, Ray III, who can be seen toddling around Steve’s Club Camden and 1Force trying to get in on the action.
I’ve been a proud supporter of Steve’s Club since it’s inception. But in truth - Ray and his teammates are the ones providing the support. Much of what they have seen the rest of us only watch on the news, yet they offer no excuse. They simply show up to train each day, grateful for the opportunity given to them by Steve and the rest of the donors who make Steve’s Club Camden possible.
We will be looking to Ray for even more leadership as we open our own Local Steve’s Club in the upcoming months. It will be our mission to help West Deptford teenagers find the strongest, fastest, fittest version of themselves through CrossFit training and group mentoring at 1Force Steve’s Club. We are proud to join the long list of awesome affiliates who are building a stronger nation, One Kid at a Time.