Junior Taylor Ballek can be considered your average cadet by most standards. She studies hard, goes to class and fulfills all of her military obligations. There is one thing however that sets her apart from the average cadet; she has proven to be one of the fittest women in the world.
Ballek has just finished competing in the CrossFit Open where she finished 12th in the region and 111th in the world qualifying her for the regional championship where she will compete as a member of Ocean State's Finest of Ocean State CrossFit looking to punch her ticket to the CrossFit Games.
"I love testing my limits and pushing them every day," said Ballek "CrossFit is not only discovering the boundaries of physical human capabilities, but constantly furthering them as well."
CrossFit is constantly varied movements performed at high intensity. All CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements, and these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more. The Open is an opportunity for people around the world to compete against each other through five different workouts over five weeks and begin the journey of attempting to qualify for the CrossFit games.
"I like that the philosophy of CrossFit is being good at everything and not great at any one specific skill," commented Ballek. "For example, I love that I can back-squat almost 300 pounds, go run a 6:15 mile, and then jump on the bar and do 15 muscle-ups. I enjoy not specializing and training myself in all domains of exercise. I am a jack of all trades."
Ballek has taken on the task of being a Government major at the Academy and balancing her time between school and training, managing to find a solid balance.
"Time management is a huge part of balancing being an elite CrossFit athlete and a cadet at the same time," added Ballek. "All I have time for is training, eating, sleeping, homework, making it to class and my military obligations, including intercompany sports. I have no idea how I've pulled off being able to find success in both, because the amount of training and time required to compete at this level makes it seemingly impossible to any reasonable person."
"Competing in CrossFit has helped me better prepare for the Physical Fitness Exam and I can complete my military fitness obligations at the highest standards possible," said Ballek. "Also the discipline it takes to be a cadet and meet the expectations of the Academy has carried over into my training and helped me train and compete at a high level."
"Taylor has come a long way in a short period of time and it's a true testament of her work ethic. I haven't met many people in my life as disciplined as she has been to her training and nutrition, especially someone only 20 years old," Penta commented. "On top of all of that, she's a great kid full of humility and unaware of how amazing she even is. I have a three year old daughter, and if she turns out half the person, not athlete, Taylor is, I'll be a very lucky father.
"Taylor is the athlete coaches dream about," added Fleser. "I say jump, she says "how high?" But then goes home and figures out how to jump higher, comes in the next day and shows me. She is never content with her status, she is instead, always reaching for something more and demanding more of herself. In doing so, she is respectful to those around her, and lifts the spirits of those lucky enough to train with her."
Even though Ballek has qualified for the regional championship as an individual she will forgo that opportunity to compete on a team increasing her opportunity of reaching her goal of making it to the CrossFit games.
She also will be able to complete her summer assignment for the Coast Guard since she is a part of the Summer Battalion and is able to schedule her leave.
"My position happens to allow me to choose my leave and be around to train for the majority of the summer while still fulfilling my underway requirement," added Ballek.
"I owe a huge thank-you to my original coach, Mike Penta, at New London CrossFit (NLCF) for developing all the tools I needed to be competitive and successful in last year's Open," continued Ballek. "I'm also thankful for my current coach, Ray Fleser, for bringing me into his gym, where I am able to thrive in a more competitive atmosphere and have the opportunity to represent Ocean State CrossFit (OSCF) as a member of their team. Lastly, I appreciate the massive amounts of love, support, and encouragement I have received from NLCF, OSCF and the Coast Guard Academy during this year's season."
Ballek will compete with her team at the Northeast Regional from May 19th-21st hoping for the opportunity to qualify for the CrossFit Games.