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Diabetes can’t slow this Rocklin athlete

14-year-old CrossFit pro deadlifts 220
By: Amanda Calzada, Placer Herald correspondent
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A shortage of insulin does not correlate to a shortage of strength or skill for Shea Farrish.

“It (CrossFit) helps me with everything,” said Farrish, a type 1 diabetic who said the sport helps her clear her mind.

CrossFit, a strength and conditioning program, blends gymnastics, weightlifting, running, biking, rowing and mono-structural endurance to build stamina and strength without specializing or heavily focusing on a particular physical skill.

The goal of the sport is to provide the individual with a well-rounded training to tackle any “common” task that can be applied to daily tasks, such as yard work, in proper form.

Last January, Farrish ranked first in the junior varsity division at the CrossFit kids teen gauntlet competition in Los Angeles. In July 2012, she placed second at the CrossFit Kids teen gauntlet competition at the CrossFit Games in Carson. Farrish continued to excel at the Good Times CrossFit Fall Classic last November, where she and her coach, Blair Morrison, partnered in the “Opens” division to deadlift 600 pounds together and finish 27th out of 37th in a field of competitors 10 to 15 years older than the young athlete.

To end the year, Farrish competed on the CrossFit Anywhere team at NorCal CrossFit in San Jose in December. The “CrossFit for Kenya” completion funded construction of two schools in Kenya.

Contrary to popular belief, Farrish said, CrossFit isn’t just like working out at the gym.

Farrish particularly relishes the CrossFit activities cardio, running and movements called “snatch” and “clean/jerk.” Additionally, she practices Olympic lifting outside of CrossFit to supplement her training under Edgar and Evelyn Hernandez from E2OlyFit out of the San Diego area.

As a USWA Olympic weightlifter, Farrish qualified for junior nationals last year.

If she’s not at the gym, she always wants to be, she said.

The sport has tremendously impacted areas outside of her athleticism, including her self-confidence and academics, said Farrish’s mom, Stacy Fegard.

“She’s way out of my league,” smiled Fegard, who said she wants her daughter to value physical fitness and health.

Two years ago, Farrish was inspired to give the sport a shot when she saw her mom enjoying CrossFit. Now she visits the gym four times a week for two hours each visit, primarily at the Folsom location under Morrison’s training. Occasionally, she trains at CrossFit Determination in Roseville with Josh Westberg. She has been affiliated with CrossFit Anywhere since May 2012.

Fegard, who began CrossFit four years ago when the sport was offered in a class at California Family Fitness in Rocklin, said she loves the close-knit feel of the CrossFit community.

The sport has brought the mother and daughter closer together, as both can agree it’s a worthwhile activity.

“It’s not just a regular sport. You really get hooked,” she said at the CrossFit Anywhere Roseville location, training under Morrison, who was ranked the “fifth fittest man in the world” in 2011 at the CrossFit Games.

Morrison, who has trained Farrish for the past six months, admires her mental approach and self-belief that allow her to master body weight exercises and gymnastic moves that challenge most female athletes

“She’s outwardly shy, but extremely competitive. She’s a lot faster than most people twice her age,” said Morrison, who said Farrish’s Olympic lifting and strength are “super impressive.”

Farrish, who started snatching at 25 pounds, now masters 100. Snatching, the world’s fastest lift, moves a weight from the ground to way overhead for developing balance, power, flexibility, coordination, speed and strength.

The teenager also began deadlifting at 25 pounds and now trains at 220.

It was no contest for Farrish to commit to CrossFit after eight years of playing recreational soccer in Rocklin. CrossFit, she said, wasn’t just “running around.”

And because the Springview Middle School eighth-grader just turned 14, she is now eligible to compete in the “Opens” for CrossFit competitions this February.

When she isn’t working out at the gym, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

The athlete, who describes herself as strong, independent and determined, says she knows she can always go to the gym to “relieve” herself and help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

“Benefits of CrossFit have helped Shea to mentally and physically accept the challenges of her diabetes,” said Fegard.

The solution is especially important to Ferrish, since Type 1, unlike Type 2 diabetes, can not be maintained by diet to battle the shortage of insulin in the pancreas.

Farrish and Fegard are in the beginning stages of creating a “SheaStrong” nonprofit organization to fund diabetes research and awareness.

Most recently, Farrish qualified to make CrossFit Anywhere’s novice team to compete at the Sactown Throwdown Jan. 26 and 27 at the Placer County Fairgrounds in Roseville.

 “It (CrossFit) pushes you to try harder – and not just in the gym, in life,” Fegard smiled.