Coach Spotlight: Zach Starsia
For the past year, we have reaped the benefits of Zach’s coaching at our U Street location. Now, before he packs up and heads west, Zach will be on the calendar for one last Friday (June 15). As he wraps up his last few days, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks.
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Zach moved here in 2017. A Charlottesville native, Washington, DC was always “the city in the backyard” that piqued his interest. So when his company offered him the opportunity to relocate, Zach took it. And the District did not disappoint. “Nearly everyone here is a transplant,” Zach noticed. “We all start from the same place, making new friends and forging new connections.”
Zach walked into CFDC like many of us. He said he had done a couple years of CrossFit and was sampling different gyms in the neighborhood. Zach then jumped into a class and was hooked. “People went out their way to welcome me,” he remembered. On that first day, Zach forged several lasting friendships.
Unbeknownst to us, Zach had coached CrossFit and formed a barbell club in Charlottesville. But he deliberately kept that to himself. “I wanted to start as a member, learn from the coaches, and pick up new cues.” So Zach had us fooled . . . briefly. Two weeks later, a hang-squat-snatch cycle appeared on the whiteboard. With shocking ease, Zach threw a 245-pound barbell above his head, causing every head in class — including Coach Tom’s — to turn. Tom then opened his laptop and queried Zach’s name.
“This guy is a coach.” Tom was floored by Zach’s understated arrival: “He wanted to experience our community first without mentioning his background. That speaks volumes.” Tom invited Zach to join our roster and, after few weeks of on-boarding with Coach Emily, had Zach running classes.
Zach relished this opportunity, and so did we. Zach popularized the practice of opening class with the “Question of the Day.” For instance, if you were stranded on a desert island, what piece of gym equipment would you take? He explained, “I develop my question the night before. I look for a topic that will evoke a little laughter, but also force you to learn something about the person next to you.”
Zach also displayed an uncanny ability to blurt out the right cue or word of encouragement while we were in the throes of a metcon. That was no accident. If you stuck around for Friday open gym, you saw Zach complete the very same workout he had just coached. That sequence allowed him to experience the same movements we just suffered through, and further refine his coaching palate for the next time those movements appeared in Tom’s programming.
As for the move, Zach and his girlfriend — both avid outdoor lovers — had joked for years about relocating West. So when career paths recently opened for them to make that move, they selected Seattle. “The city is new to both of us,” Zach said with excitement. “We will be starting from zero.” On whether he will continue coaching, Zach was non-committal. More likely, he said with a wry smile, “I will visit a few gyms, start a membership, and see what happens.” We already know that how this story ends!
Looking back on his time here, a few memories stick in Zach’s mind. First was our anniversary celebration, where Zach met CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman: “That’s that type of conversation I will remember forever.” Second, Zach mentioned this Spring’s H Street Red Rocks party, where “on the rooftop, with music blaring, the entire gym celebrated the end of the Open.” Third, Zach spoke about recruiting two old friends — Alex and Preston — to join CFDC when they arrived in the District. Following Zach’s footsteps, Alex and Preston have started coaching at H Street and U Street, respectively. “As I leave, I’m excited for them to take my place in this incredible community.”
We asked what would be on Zach’s mind when he closed up U Street one last time. After a long contemplative pause, Zach said, “I learned more in the past 12 months here than in all my previous years of CrossFit. I leave a more confident coach and athlete. You pushed me to the next level.”
We are humbled. As you move to your next chapter, we recall the phrase you yell at the start of each and every workout.
Good luck and have fun!
-The CrossFit DC Family