The 2019 Graduates

Each one of you hold a special place in our hearts. I believe you've all been with us at least 3 years and we couldn't be more proud of how much you each have grown. So many great memories and milestones...from Kevin almost killing Neil followed by Nate almost killing Kevin to Zap bouncing back from a torn MCL it's been a ride. There hasn't been a visit from the Leeper family where the whole gang didn't drop in for a sweat, and Lauren and Zap pushed Townley to tears to finish a workout just a few weeks ago. I can remember Kaiden dropping in during his visit to Bridgewater his senior year of high school and has been the fittest in the gym in regards to the CrossFit Open...we'll miss him coming to the late class on hard workout days so he knew what he had to do in order to achieve the best score for the day. 

Check below for some words from them and make sure to tell them congratulations on their huge accomplishment.

-Nate


Sara Leeper

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Hometown: Pennington, New Jersey

Major: Elementary Education

How Long at Rocktown: I joined August 2015, so a little over 3 years

Plans after graduation:

After graduation the plan is to move back home to New Jersey, save a little money and begin my teaching career as an elementary school teacher!

What you’ll miss most about the Rock:

I am going to miss the community feel the Rock has created. Every time I walk in the door everyone is so friendly and encouraging. I’m going to miss being a member at the Rock and all the people that I work out with...special shout out to the 5:30 AM crew and a to RJ for being such a great hype man that early in the morning!

I want to thank Lauren and Nate and the rest of the Rock coaches for being so welcoming, encouraging and helpful. I also want to thank them for creating a box that pushes one another and encourages each other day in and day out, especially when Lauren tells me I need to add more to my bar lol. When I first came to the Rock my sophomore year, I lacked some confidence but over the past 3 years the Rock and the members have pushed me to be a better and stronger version of myself. Thanks for all the memories and the GAINZZZ!

-Sara


Kaiden Lewis

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Hometown: Stafford, Virginia

Major: Health and Physical Education

How long have you been at Rocktown: All 4 years at Bridgewater College.

Plans after graduation: I am going to go back home and find a job teaching PE at a high school.

What you'll miss the most about the Rock: The friends I have made during my time at the Rock.

I have been at the Rock for four years and over those years I have grown up a lot. I feel like I am a better person today at the end of my college career than I was coming into college. The Rock has played a big part in helping me to grow from a young kid to a soon to be teacher.

CrossFit workouts are really challenging for anybody. It is hard work. However when you’re doing those workouts in a positive atmosphere with friends around you, it turns into one of the best hours of the day.  That’s what makes Rocktown so much more that just another gym. It is a family that cares about each other and because of that it makes doing those tough workouts fun!

-Kaiden


Kevin Steiner

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Hometown: Fairfax City, Virginia

Major: Political Science Major, Military Leadership Minor

How long at Rocktown: November of 2016 - 2 years and 5 months

Plans after graduation:

I commission as an officer in the United States Army on May 4th in the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. I assessed into the Engineer Corps and will start my Engineer Basic Officer Leadership Course on May 20th, 2019 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. There, I will learn combat engineer roles (IED demolition, route clearance, urban breaching, obstacle breaching), and construction roles (mobile bridging and vertical/horizontal forward operating base roles). From there, I will have the opportunity to attend Sapper School, a 28 day school that teaches and assesses your ability to support the infantry in a combat engineer role. After my Officer basic course, I will be going down to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. I will work as either a combat engineer, a vertical engineer, or a horizontal engineer in the 1st Armored Division, 1st Brigade Combat Team (Stryker), 16th Brigade Engineer Battalion. I will be stationed at Fort Bliss for about 3 to 4 years. 

What you'll miss the most about the Rock: I will miss everything about The Rock, the coaches, family, and community. I will miss showing up to the best hour of the day and showing up after  along school day or PT session and being able to blow off some steam and better myself. I will also miss The Open at The Rock and the support system that shows up to every workout. 

Showing up to The Rock has been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I showed up for my first session and never looked back (I drank the Kool-Aid hard and still do). The Rock and CrossFit have become a passion of mine and I don't know if I will ever belong to a gym that can compare to The Rock. Lauren has been a role model for me and has guided me to being a better and more fit person pushing me in the gym and never letting me take my foot off of the gas. Showing up to the gym everyday has been the best hour of my day. If I have a tough day, I know showing up to The Rock, getting in a good workout, and being with all the positive people that The Rock fosters, will always turn my day around. 

Some highlights that I will never forget.... almost taking out Neal with a 135lb snatch that I could not get in the 2017 Open and getting lit up by Nate  (I just did a workout with 145lb snatches in it!). Hitting a 220lb clean PR during the 2018 Open at the last second with everyone in the gym cheering me on. The ROTC workout that was hosted at The Rock by Nate. Seeing coaches at Corgans and Rocktown beer fest after a few too many and yelling, "Those are my coaches!". And Lauren always in my ear (sometimes yelling like a drill sergeant), making sure I get that extra rep, round, or calorie in. The Rock is one of the few things that have made JMU what it is for me and I cannot thank Nate and Lauren enough for welcoming me into their home to make me a better and more fit person. Thank you to everyone for making my time here at JMU (the 630am class, the mom class at 9am, the noon class, and the 4:30 and 5:30pm class). Thank you, I don't know if I will ever belong to a CrossFit community like this one again.

-Kevin


Nicole “Zap” Zapparrata

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Hometown: Fairfield, New Jersey

 Major: Psychology, B.S. and Statistics Minor 

How long at Rocktown: Started August 2016, So about 2 years and 9 months, just shy of 3.

 Plans after graduation:

After graduation I am going to graduate school. I will either enroll into one of the master’s programs I got into or into the Ph.D. program I got into. I will most likely end up at the Ph.D. program I think, which is in New York. Although I have not officially decided yet. The field is quantitative methods in educational and psychological research. 

What you’ll miss the most about the Rock:

I will mostly miss the atmosphere that the coaches and the members create at the Rock. It is very welcoming, friendly, and supportive. The Rock creates an intrinsically motivating environment that makes working out fun every day, even if its death by burpees/thrusters/devils presses, lol.

I will miss all of the people who I work out with every day and I will miss being a part of a community. Every day I look forward to going to the Rock and getting a great workout in with great people. Overall, Rocktown provided a space for me throughout my undergrad career to handle the stress of school through working out. So I will miss the positive space and atmosphere it provided.   

I want to thank The Rock for being an outlet for me during my sophomore, junior, and senior years of college. When I look back on my college years, The Rock is going to pop into my head as one of the most memorable things from this time in my life.

Some highlights of my time at the gym:

  • My first workout after PEAK was on a hot August day, at noon, and consisted of wall balls, burpees, and running. Definitely thought I was going to die.

  • I remember the first time I suffered through thrusters. The workout was Fran.

  • The 6:30 A.M. class, which was my consistent time for a while (I miss that class).

  • The open each year, watching people PR, and surprising myself in workouts

  • The people!!! & all the new people I’ve met through The Rock

  • Learning macros: Lauren did a really great job at helping me learn how to eat properly and eat more. Freshman year is rough because your diet consists of alcohol, fries from the dining hall, and dominos. My weight was constantly fluctuating because there was no balance to my eating. So, upon my sophomore year of college (when I first started CrossFit) I didn’t know how to properly balance my eating. Macros really came in handy in order to understand how to fuel my body to be able to handle the intense workouts at the Rock. I can literally now look at a plate of food and estimate the nutritional information in my head, (I don’t know if that is a blessing or a curse, hahaha). Thanks Lauren!

  • Finally getting double unders

  • I like how I get to compete with myself every day. I did sports year-round in high school, so coming to college and not having that made it feel like there was a void in my daily schedule. The Rock definitely filled that void.

  • And my last but not least highlight is convincing Townley (my roommate) to join the Rock. It helped us both become more motivated and dedicated students, and helped us learn how to prioritize our schedules and manage our time wisely.

    -Zap


Townley Neal

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Hometown: Richmond, VA 

Major: Health Sciences 

How long at Rocktown: 2 years 

Plans after graduation: I plan to go to nursing school, but I am taking a year off to work. 

What I'll miss most about the Rock:

If Lauren can't talk me into staying in Harrisonburg, I will miss the people the most! I think if you ask anyone what their favorite thing is about the Rock, they will say the people and that truly says so much about this gym. College has been such a rollercoaster for me, but all of y'all have been a consistent source of love, encouragement, and support (I seriously cannot thank you all enough--not gonna lie I started to tear up writing this). There are so many people at this gym that I look up to because they are great mothers/fathers, phenomenal athletes, or they are just really awesome humans that I am so lucky to get to spend time with nearly every day. 

First off I have to say shoutout to Zap/Nicole! She has been my roommate for the past 3 years and she first introduced me to CrossFit. I came to watch her in several Open workouts in 2017. I was in complete awe!! I had always played sports/danced my entire life and there was definitely a void when I came to college. After much coaxing from Zap, I came in to try my first workout, which ended in me throwing up my breakfast. Zap remembers my first workout but all I remember is throwing up, but that didn't stop me from coming back! When I first showed up to the Rock, I was nearing academic probation and was really struggling academically. You would think when you join a gym your results would be mostly physical, but for me, the biggest improvement has been mentally and emotionally. This gym has both matured me and taught me discipline in all respects of life. I can happily say ever since I have been a member at the Rock, I have been on either Dean's or President's list every semester! Honestly the Rock has really changed my life for the better. I am so appreciative of what the Rock, the members, and coaches have done for me and this will always be a second home to me! <3 

-Townley