Ex-DePaul Standout (Deason) Smith in Unbelievable Shape
July 20, 2012
CHICAGO – For all of you fitness fanatics out there, former three-sport DePaul athlete Lindsey (Deason) Smith is your Wonder Woman.
She is among the fittest females on this planet after competing in her fourth consecutive Crossfit Games July 12-15 at the Home Depot Center sports complex in Carson, Calif.
The unbelievably demanding sport of CrossFit athletics might be described as a triathlon on steroids.
Instead of an opening ceremony, the 2012 CrossFit Games got underway with a triathlon that included a 750-meter ocean swim, an 8K bicycle race in soft sand and an 11K race in the mountains.
Triathlon athletes train six months for their grueling sport. Smith and her fellow CrossFit athletes from all over the world had no idea this would be their first event.
Triathletes take a month to recover. Smith & Co. rested for one hour before confronting a U.S. Marines obstacle course at Camp Pendleton.
With the guys in fatigues looking on in admiration, the CrossFit athletes turned in some final times that matched the fastest clocking of the best marines.
After a day of rest, the Saturday schedule commenced with a 300-yard shuttle. Then, these fitness fanatics did five rope climbs of 25 feet and pushed a blocking sled the length of a football field 20 yards at a time.
Those who complete these events the fastest wind up with the highest overall finish.
Following a two-hour recovery period, the 5-foot, 11-inch Smith lifted 140 pounds from ground to shoulder level and had her load increased by 10 pounds every 30 seconds. She lasted until 220 pounds and came in fourth.
Here was the final event of the day:
10 overhead weightlifting squats at 105 pounds
“This was one of the most difficult challenges because of the triathlon,” said Smith, who qualified for her first CrossFit Games in 2009 and finished fifth. “I had never done an event longer than two hours.
“Since 2009, the sport has really grown and the level of competition has risen quickly. It began with competitors from our country only and has expanded to include athletes from all over the world.
“Of the three women who stood on the awards podium in 2009---none of them qualified for the Games this year. The 2012 female winner was from Iceland.
The 29-year-old Smith was 12th in 2010, 16th last year and 21st this year.
“I feel like I’ve gotten better each year,” she said. “Finishing 21st this year is better than finishing fifth in 2009. It’s No. 21 in the world.”
Smith graduated DePaul in 2006 as the top goalkeeper of all time in women’s soccer. She is currently tied with Morgan Celaya for the career record in games played (80) and holds the season record in goals against average (0.83 in 2003). She is second in career saves and career GAA.
She played on the Blue Demon women’s basketball team in 2002-03 and 2003-04 with Khara Smith, Sarah Kustok, Jenni Dant, Charlene Smith and Ashley Luke.
“I am so excited about coach (Doug) Bruno and the Olympics,” Smith said about the Blue Demon women’s basketball coach going to London as an assistant coach on the USA Women’s Olympic Team. “That is such an honor that he has earned.”
As a graduate student in the 2005-06 school year, Smith set the DePaul indoor track season record in the pentathlon and the outdoor season school record in the pentathlon.
“What I loved about DePaul was being in Chicago and enjoying everything it has to offer with its culture, festivals, parades and marathons,” Smith said. “The athletic department was so close and you felt the strong support all across the board. The men’s soccer players and softball players came to all of our soccer games.
“Getting to know Jeanne (Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto) was one of my best experiences. At big universities, the athletic director doesn’t know every face like Jeanne does. I feel like I could knock on her door today, walk into her office and we’d have the best talk.”
Smith’s lifestyle has always been full-tilt since her senior year at Snider High School in Fort Wayne, Ind. when she competed on the football and girls soccer teams simultaneously and earned All-State recognition in both sports.
A typical day would consist of 30 minutes of kicking practice followed by more than two hours of soccer practice and then 45 minutes of special-teams work.
After compiling a 0.67 GAA as a goalie her first three seasons, Smith was switched to a field player as a senior and finished with 33 goals and 11 assists while leading the Panthers to an 18-1-1 record.
She was chosen All-State first team.
In football, Smith was All-State honorable mention and all-conference first team after converting six of nine field goals and 56 of 59 PATs. Her 36-yard, game-winning field goal in the state playoffs sent Snider onto the sectional championship.
“I was playing in a girls’ powder puff football game coached by the football players and they told me I was really good at football,” Smith said. “They went to the coach and asked if I could be their kicker. Since it was their idea, they really embraced me. It was like I had 100 brothers.
“Because of that, I didn’t encounter issues other girls did trying to play their sport. I had the support of the whole school. I was let out of class 15 minutes early so I could change in the locker room before the guys got there.
“Sometimes players on the other team would say stuff or give me a hard time. But all my teammates would take care of that. They were so protective of me.”
Smith spent three seasons as a goalkeeper with the Charlotte Eagles pro women’s soccer team right after graduating from DePaul. She married former Coast Guard Academy linebacker Web Smith, and they have a four-year-old daughter named Alexis.
“We got into CrossFit after my husband saw the movie ‘300’ starring Gerard Butler as King Leonidas,” Smith said. “It’s about how 300 courageous Spartans held off a Persian army of 100,000 for three days at the Battle of Thermopylae.
“Web was so impressed by how jacked all the Spartan guys were in the movie. During his research, he discovered those actors got that ripped using CrossFit workouts. He started doing the same workouts.
“Web got into CrossFit training but I told him I wasn’t doing that. Then, he signed me up for a competition. I had never been to a CrossFit gym. But in my first competition in 2009, I qualified.
“After that, I was hooked.”
Her 5-11 stature has given Smith a big edge throughout her athletic career. It’s just the opposite in CrossFit.
"I’m always one of the tallest female athletes in a sport where the average height is 5-4,” Smith said. “Shorter athletes can perform repetitions much faster, especially in stuff like pull-ups and weightlifting. In squatting, I have to come up with ways to be more efficient.
“More than half of the Crossfit Games female qualifiers were gymnasts in high school or college. Gymnasts are very strong and have a good awareness of their body. Three of the top four finishers at this year’s Games were former gymnasts.
“In most events, being tall is a decided disadvantage. The only ones where it helps are rope climbing, wall ball (throwing a medicine ball against a wall) and rowing.”
Like everything else, Smith throws everything she has into her job as athletic director at the Columbus School for Girls in Columbus, Ohio. After a full day at school, she does her CrossFit training from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
With the school opening a wellness center and a swimming pool, Smith can now do half of her workout in the morning before school starts.
“Your priorities are what you do on a daily basis,” Smith said. “My day is not over until I work out, even if that means pulling a bench onto the driveway at 10 p.m. and lifting.
“How long will I compete? Next year will be my fifth, so maybe I’ll go out after five. After each year, I think about it.”
When that day comes, the CrossFit Games will be missing a truly dedicated athlete.
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