By: Monica Fritsch
When you enter NewCov CrossFit, you don’t expect to see superheroes. However, it’s full of real-life people who have risked their own lives in order to save others. From firefighters, to police officers and active-duty military and veterans, NewCov CrossFit has a diverse group of extraordinary members of the gym family.
“The NewCov CrossFit community is amazing!” says Bellevue police officer and Specialist; Spec 4 United States Army veteran, Mike Brown says. “The encouragement on a daily basis is amazing. That is the family/team mentality that a lot of vets miss and need in their life!”
Brown served in the United States Army from September 2000 to September 2004. Stateside, he served in the 1st Battalion of the 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Division in Fort Hood, Texas. His unit deployed to Iraq from 2003 to 2004. There, Brown served as a Gunner for Convoy Operations as well as Driver. He also served on Rapid Response Teams for Task Force IronHorse Assets, conducting operations and missions across the northern part of Iraq. When Brown ended his tour of duty in 2004, he intended on pursuing his teaching degree. “I decided when I got out of the Army, I was going to come home and help my community.”
Life however took Brown in yet another direction; this time to police work. He is currently a Patrolman, Grade 4 for the City of Bellevue and an operator on the Northern Kentucky Special Operations Group (aka SWAT Team). Brown says his grandfather, a Newport firefighter, and grandmother, a Veterans Administration Hospital employee, laid the groundwork for his decision. “I have always found that the greatest reward is to be allowed to serve the public,” Brown says.
Another NewCov CrossFit member who proudly serves his community is Mike Allen. He is a firefighter and paramedic with the Cincinnati Fire Department. Allen thinks he has the greatest job on Earth. “Most of the time when I’m talking to people about being a fireman, I don’t refer to it as a ‘job.’” Allen says.
Allen’s career path was also influenced by his family at six years old. His uncle Jackson gave him a toy replica of the firetruck that he himself worked on. “He was always my inspiration and drive to be a fireman,” Allen says. “Being able to catch a few house fires with him over the short period that I did will always be a highlight of my time in the fire service.”
Last Fall, Allen saved a ten-month-old from an apartment fire. It’s another career highlight for him. “It’s a feeling you can’t replicate, the look of a mother when you place her child in her arms,” Allen says. “It immediately makes your life meaningful.”
Sometimes however, your choices are influenced by negative experiences. That was the case for one of NewCov CrossFit’s coaches, Raquel Theodosopoulos. At a young age, Theodosopoulos had passion and talent for soccer. However, a major crisis led her to attempt drowning her problems in alcohol. She eventually realized she was headed down a destructive road and joined the United States Marine Corps.
“It’s the reason I’m alive today and has shaped me into the woman I’m proud to be,” Theodosopoulos says.
Theodosopoulos was a Sergeant (E-5) and served from 2013 to 2017 in logistics, as a Motor Transport Operator and ended her military career as a Chief Dispatcher.
While these three real-life superheroes have diverse backgrounds, they share a common passion for CrossFit and are embraced and appreciated by their fellow members. This is most displayed when NewCov CrossFit hosts Hero WODs (Workouts of the Day) to honor CrossFitters who have made the ultimate sacrifice in order to serve and protect others. Theodosopoulos, Brown and Allen have participated in countless Hero WODs. “Hero WODs are special to me, and as long as I’m able, I’ll continue to be there,” Brown says.
“Civilians will never understand the feeling of throwing a group of absolute strangers together, from every race, belief or background, and knowing that no matter what, when the time comes, we will always fight for each other,” Theodosopoulos says.
Theodosopoulos, Brown and Allen think that CrossFit and their professions work hand-in-hand. “I’m disciplined, assertive, loud and I have a tough time taking anything than 100% from our athletes,” Theodosopoulos says. “It has made me a better coach, being a Marine.”
“Dangerous criminals sometimes don’t like to be apprehended and the agility, strength and stamina we develop through training (in CrossFit) is a tremendous life-saving benefit,” Brown says.
“Being a fireman is a physically-demanding job and the people that you work with depend on you to be the best version of you,” Allen says. “CrossFit has allowed me to do that.”