Spencer Hendel: I Support Steve’s Club
Life Is About Second Chances
How we handle setbacks is everything. And setbacks generally come with two options: let it beat you, or figure out a way to beat it.
For Spencer Hendel, a 6 times Games athlete and the head coach and owner of Reebok CrossFit Medfield, it's about having the resiliency to pick yourself up and create second chances.
Early in his CrossFit career, Spencer Hendel failed to qualify for the CrossFit Games in 2009 at the CrossFit Regional in Columbus, Ohio. In the midst of dealing with that disappointment, Hendel got word that there was to be a Last Chance Qualifier and Hendel leapt at the opportunity. Spencer Hendel did not plan on wasting his second chance, qualified, and went on to finish 12th at the Games that year.
But, it wasn’t all smooth sailing after Spencer picked up the sport so quickly. After making trips to the Games 2009-2012, Hendel missed the cut the next two years, before finally making it back in 2015 thanks to the perseverance, determination, and work ethic Spencer has learned largely through CrossFit.
Understanding the importance of grit, Hendel sees Steve’s Club as the opportunity for at-risk teens to learn this trait through CrossFit workouts and the CrossFit community. “It does wonders for the confidence levels of teenagers. They usually come in, hunched over, with bad posture. They won’t look you in the eye. Fast forward a couple months and they’re doing three minute Fran’s, walking around with their heads held high.”
And it doesn’t stop there. “The lessons from CrossFit, and this newfound confidence, doesn’t just start and end in the gym. It leads them to try things they’d never normally try, to strive for things they thought were never possible. Whatever they choose to apply it to, they can, and they are, and it’s changing their lives,” Spencer said.
That’s what led Hendel to Steve’s Club, Leadership Camp, and helping underprivileged youth. “Steve’s Club is so important for these underprivileged youth. They don’t have a ton of positive role models. They don’t have a network of people there for them, teaching them how to navigate disappointment and failure.”
“Ultimately, that’s what life is all about - responding to failures and setback,” Hendel said. Having a community of support within CrossFit was important in helping him make it back to the Games in 2015 and 2016.
Spencer knows that it's the people around you who help lift you up, which is especially important for teenagers. “When you surround these at-risk kids with coaches, fellow CrossFitters, and volunteers who care about them, there’s no doubt they’re going to learn to deal with difficult situations inside and outside of the gym with a more optimistic outlook.”
“Steve’s Club is important because these kids come into the gym, having dealt with some pretty awful situations, and the workout allows them to forget about all of those troubles,” Hendel noted. “And not just that, but soon, they realize that they aren’t alone in their struggles. These teens begin to realize that they no longer have to be limited by their circumstances. They create new perspectives and habits, slowly developing a whole new set of characteristics. Through meaningful interactions with people at the gym and new role models that show they consistently care about them, these kids are given the opportunity at a second chance.”
And while the feeling of accomplishment from a workout is certainly a highlight of CrossFit, Hendel acknowledges the community aspect as the major differentiator from so many other hobbies. Hendel noted, “No matter where you go, or where you are, everything is the same inside a Box. The community is consistent: friendly, welcoming, people shaking hands, high-fiving, and smiling. If we can give that experience to these kids and teens, it can create new pathways for them to succeed and define their future."
“These kids are changing the course of their lives, one positive interaction at a time,” said Hendel. “I support Steve’s Club because it helps kids deal with the difficult things happening in their lives. It gives them somewhere positive to go with a community of people who care, so they don’t feel alone.”
If you also believe in the power of the CrossFit community, join Spencer in helping us Strengthen the Nation, One Kid at a Time.
You can make a donation anytime to help us reach more kids across the country, or volunteer to guest coach at one of our upcoming events or at a Local Club near you.