Most of you know Alice Tucker from her explosion onto the individual competition scene at last year’s Schwartz’s Challenge. Alice won three of the events and ended up placing just outside of the top ten, at the end of one of the most challenging weekends of CrossFit competition in Australia and New Zealand. What you wouldn’t know is that she had to overcome a broken back, hours of daily travel and find a way win over one of the most high profile CrossFit coaches in Australia. Learn how Alice used her “I can and I will” attitude to heal her back and close the gap on the top athletes in the country, fast.
Gene Suna, Again Faster Australia CEO, asked me to find out a bit about Alice Tucker and if she would be suitable for the Again Faster Development Team, a few months ago. I did remember that she won a couple of workouts at Schwartz’s, beating Denea Brown and a few of the other top women at workouts that should have been in their wheelhouse, but at the time, there didn’t seem to be a great deal of hype around Alice. Looking at her Facebook feed, she certainly didn’t pump herself up. It was like she just got on with it and started thinking about how she could put herself in a place to win four or five events, next year. No time to celebrate. Document the experience and get back to work. I had met someone with very similar attributes back in 2011 – Rob Forte.
“My favourite thing about CrossFit is getting to that redline and then having to choose if I should slow down or go harder. It can’t get much worse. I choose to go harder.”
The quote above is something Alice said to me in one of our first conversations, and I believe her, with no reservation. We hear a lot of people say this in the functional fitness community. It certainly varies by degree, and let’s face it, most people will never know the redline Alice is talking about, although, Alice will tell you she has always been a middle of the pack athlete.
Alice played most sports, while growing up. She found the most success in Tennis, however. While at the top of her game, Alice posted a few videos of herself, online, playing tennis, and made few phone calls to see if she could play at University Level in the States. Alice said she didn’t think much of it at the time. She was in the top 100 in Australia, at that point, and just continued to play tennis and study, as usual. That was until the American Universities saw her posts and started ringing. Alice was offered a full ride scholarship to move to the States and play tennis in Portland, Oregon. All expenses paid for nearly two years. Even food. Good work, if you can get it.
Alice returned from the States and starting training CrossFit at a box near her home in Victoria. Like a lot of us, she was training the house down when tragedy struck. She blacked out during a lift and somehow landed awkwardly with the bar, and injured herself. She broke her back going for a 1RM front squat. Seems pretty difficult to do and there would have been a few contributing factors, but it is usually a type of injury that is provoked by extreme determination. Now with a broken back, Alice would have to use all of her determination to get back to CrossFit. She had realised how much she loved it and started to develop a belief that she could have a future in the sport.
Alice had a bit of time away from the box to heal and when she returned, she found that most of the advanced athletes she was used to training with had decided to move on for one reason or another. Alice needed to satisfy that competitive edge and knew she couldn’t do that where she was training so she had to find another box. She did not compromise. She chose Schwartz’s.
“I knew I would have to travel a couple of hours, daily, but I was something I just had to do. I got up at 4am to travel to Melbourne to meet Ben [Schwartz]. He had a quick look at me and my movement, and said, “Yep, group one. Come back tomorrow.” I was pretty intimidated by him and the gym so for the next few weeks I just came in and did my thing, and kept to myself. I flew under the radar for a while but when I made the podium at my first local comp, Ben really turned up my training.””
Alice trained hard and it paid off. She made the Schwartz’s regionals team and got her first taste of big time Competition. Alice realised that she wanted to see what she was capable of in CrossFit so she made some changes. She changed Universities, to be closer to Melbourne, and also moved from her home, a little ways out of Melbourne, and started renting a flat not that far from the Box. She was starting to do what she needed to do to make it happen.
Last year’s Schwartz’s Challenge came around and Ben Schwartz informed Alice she would be competing. Alice told me she was concerned that she wouldn’t be able to do any of the workouts.
“I questioned Ben if I would be able to get through any of the workouts. I didn’t think I should be competing at that level but I wanted to try.”
Alice went on to win three of the workouts at Schwartz’s that weekend, competing against some of the best female athletes in Australia and New Zealand. I asked Alice, “When did you know you were good at CrossFit.” With absolute efficiency and accuracy, she said, “When I won the three workouts at Schwartz’s.”
I had a little chuckle to myself in my head. Sounds like something Rob would have said.
I made the call to meet up with Alice after a few Facebook messages. We met at the beach and went for a walk, and had a chat. She has this relaxed confidence about her – internally driven with a willingness to share at the appropriate opportunity. Professional. I asked Alice what her goals and plans were.
“Eliminate my weaknesses and improve my strengths. I’m excited about what I can do but I’m realistic about my abilities, right now. I’ve got a two or three year plan to work to.”
Alice is also finishing an Exercise Science degree this year so she is looking to move into Strength and Conditioning, and Rehab work. Alice certainly knows the power of appropriate Rehab, bringing herself back from a nasty back injury that may have caused lifelong ramifications for someone with far less determination. Ad intelligence to the list of Alice’s attributes, along with the wanting to go beyond her previous benchmark, performing higher than her perceived potential.
I’ve found most high performers have three common streams running through their lives. An internal accountability that requires them to be professional in all they do. An understanding that physical and mental health provides a stable foundation for everything else in life. Also, some sort of spiritualistic view, not religion, is usually present, which allows them to navigate difficult situations more easily than the majority of humans.
“I do believe that things happen for a reason. I could have been sad that I broke my back and my training partners left the box I used to train at. I could have stopped then. Although, it’s because of those events that I ended up at Schwartz’s. I wouldn’t have put more of a focus on my training and met the people I have met. I wouldn’t be at the level I am at now. I wouldn’t have had opportunities like this. I’m super excited to be given this opportunity and to be a part of the Again Faster team. I cannot thank you enough. Like I said on the phone, I hope I can represent the Again Faster brand and all its values to the highest degree and that I can make you guys proud one day.”
Please join us in welcoming Alice Tucker to the Again Faster Development Team. The Future Leaders of Functional Fitness.
Adam Lesniak is the Media and Marketing Manager of Again Faster Australia. Photos of Alice Tucker and Rob Forte courtesy of the author.