Before, During, After

I recently heard the following quote and it rang true to me:

‘When you’re able to get yourself through something that you didn’t think that you ever could, it raises the bar for the future.’

We’ve all persevered through significant challenges this year. I’m not at all interested in a repeat of 2020, but it’s fair to say that we’ve all learned and grown stronger from the experience.

As the pandemic broke, Sophia remarked to me that we’d soon refer to events as BEFORE, DURING and AFTER. Using that framework, I’d like to share my personal perspective on 2020 and beyond.


At the start of this year, I was looking back at what seemed like an eventful, yet hectic, 2019. As I turned 60, Cherry and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary and Caylee’s graduation from the University of Vermont. I spent the first half of the year studying for an EMT certification and the second half recovering from a bout of Lyme disease. We traveled to Paris for an amazing vacation that ended with an emergency room visit in Montreal. I’d coached about 1,000 classes/foundations and cleaned the building a couple hundred times. We put on two wild and crazy CrossFit Opens and membership had the building bursting at the seams. With all that behind me, I was envisioning a more peaceful and settled year in 2020.

Well, so much for that idea. As Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” 2020 had a few punches in store for us all.

DURING — Part 1

As the year began, TCF had our biggest month ever. We were looking at bigger locations, but, instead, reached an agreement with our landlord to expand into the space next door. As the pandemic began to raise its ugly head, regrettably, we had to put that opportunity on hold.

On the morning of March 16th, DJ and I agreed, that we should close the gym to protect the community from the surging virus. Later that same day, the Governor mandated closing and reaffirmed our decision. It was surreal to walk out the door that afternoon. One final hug from Christine and the next chapter was underway.

I was heartsick and, frankly, a little scared. I recall wanting to pull a Rip Van Winkle and just wake up on the other side of all this. In the days ahead, we held our first Zoom classes and I thought to myself: Just do the best that you can. You might fail. You might even die, but you need to try.

In retrospect, the following weeks were magical. Generously, the TCF community kept us afloat financially. Zoom classes, coffee chats, trivia nights, memes, kids’ videos, egg deliveries, birthday drive-bys, cooking classes, parking lot gatherings and countless acts of kindness and support kept the community connected. You were truly ’Tolland Tough’.

As we prepped the building for reopening in June, it was extraordinarily satisfying to be able to look back on the prior months and appreciate what we’d accomplished together.

DURING — Part 2

It seems like a just a second, but we’ve now been reopened for over six months. Throughout that time, we’d had to become accustomed to a different cadence. Registration, clean-up, workout boxes and now masks. All of these adjustments have been taken on with understanding and good spirits. This says a great deal about how the TCF community cares for each other.

Today, as the pandemic still surges and vaccines are being distributed, I’ve never felt so much like I was in the final scenes of an action thriller. As if we’re in the frenzied race to the finale.

As we navigate the final weeks, I’d like to thank you for everything you’ve done for each other and the community during the most extraordinary of times. Everyone has had their own personal challenges and this makes your support for this community even more amazing.

Thank you for keeping your masks on while in the building, for maintaining your social distance and for helping clean your equipment after each workout. This wasn’t what you signed up for and we appreciate your consideration in helping us keep everyone as safe as possible.


There now appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines are beginning to be administered and we can hope that the springtime will bring us back to team workouts, tire flipping, after parties, competitions, road races, Spartan challenges, replanning for expansion and lots more fist bumps and sweaty hugs.

Finally, I’d like to thank our coaches for always doing their very best. They carry you around in their hearts and want nothing more than to see you happy, healthy and reaching new heights. Also, I’d like to thank our clean-up crew who help scrub up and reset the building every night.

Be well, stay safe and thank you all for the most memorable of years.



Former blogger, CrossFit gym owner, corporate manager, paratrooper, marathoner, youth sports coach and jujitsu black belt. Now happily retired in Maui.

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Trey Whitaker

Former blogger, CrossFit gym owner, corporate manager, paratrooper, marathoner, youth sports coach and jujitsu black belt. Now happily retired in Maui.