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We made our journey to Carson, California to support our family member Jeff Goebel. As you remember from my previous blog Jeff has had a life filled with tragedy and turmoil but he always seems to come out on the other side due in large part to his deep rooted faith in God. Jeff went into the Games with an amazingly positive attitude and said throughout the entire competition that God’s will, not his will, would be done.
Jeff had an amazing following of people make the journey to Carson to support his battle for the coveted CrossFit podium. His supporters raised the roof off the stadium every time Jeff took to the competition floor in stadium (at one point my daughter texted me and said “mommy we can hear you on TV y’all are so loud). We wore matching shirts and held our “Jeff heads” with pride during every WOD. Jeff held strong to his faith throughout the entire competition and asked for our prayers every morning to help him meet the will of God at the Games.
Jeff's 1RM Squat Clean
As Jeff entered the last day of the Games he was sitting solid 3rd place and was looking strong for his second Games finish. He completed the first WOD of the day with a 2nd place finish that only further solidified his run for the podium. We all made the trek to sit in the Tennis Stadium to ensure we had seats at the finish line to watch him take his place in CrossFit Games history.
His group came to the top of the stairs and started the trek down the stairs, we all looked and Jeff was not in the group. We were shocked and could not understand what was happening. A hush of whispers ran through our group because we were all so worried and could not understand what had happened. We started to exit the stadium to look for Jeff when we were informed he had injured himself during the warm up and medical would not clear him to compete because he had likely torn his bicep. To say the least, we were devastated, not for ourselves but for Jeff. He had worked so hard to get to this point and the coveted CrossFit podium title was within his grasp but was jerked away from him at the last minute.
We all found Jeff standing at the top of the tennis stadium and he was crying in the arms of his amazingly supportive wife. He saw us all coming towards him and tried to pull himself together but I can promise you none of us had any expectations of him being able to stop mourning this devastating loss. As we approached I saw this amazing resolve settle over his face. He looked at this group of 40+ people with tears in his eyes and said “I have said since the beginning that not my will but His will be done and this is His plan for me so therefore I will accept this fate.” He then turned to us and said I am going in that Tennis Stadium to support Ron Ortiz because if I can’t win I want to support him in his quest for the podium because he is an amazing man and competitor.
We have all reflected on what happened to Jeff over these past few days. His mother posted a story on Facebook about how she took him to see his great grandmother when he was only an infant and she said he would “grow up to be a preacher one day.” Jeff is an amazing person with a deeply rooted faith in God and his plan for his life. We have witnessed him deal with his injury with grace and peace. He has told us the he is on a path trying to discover God’s will for his life. He said “I said from the start I would accept whatever outcome God had planned. Don’t feel sorry for me. I am blessed beyond measure. I have family that loves me and friends who support me. I got my chance to glorify God today, I will continue to do so, God is good.” Jeff is a shining example of how to face a difficult situation with grace and faith. As we all move forward I would challenge us all to take the same stand when faced with serious adversity.
Jeff says he is done competing at the Games. He wants to let his arm heal and try to figure out what is normal without training 3-4 times a day. He feels in his heart he has accomplished his goal of glorifying God. In my heart I know Jeff is a true competitor with the heart of a lion, I guess we shall all see what God has in store for him and if he will make another run at the Games.
We both have a very strong faith and believe that life is journey that ultimately develops us into the person that stands before you. We made our first trip to Carson California last year to support my husband’s cousin Jeff Goebel in his first trip to The Games. Matt and Jeff grew up in the same small town in northeast Tennessee. When I was first introduced to his entire extended family I was insanely shocked at how unbelievably close they were to each other. I come from a fairly small family and we did not spend near as much time together as this crazy wild group of folks. Their entire life was spent on the lake during the summer at Johnny and Betty’s lake house or camping in the mountains in tents and yes I said tents in the fall in northeast Tennessee can you say COLD! The camping in the mountains was somewhat of a shock to me because on my first trip it was so unbelievably freezing and I was expected to sleep in a tent (what me in a tent not a common occurrence). However, the closeness among this groups of cousins has led to an unbreakable bond no matter how far or near they have all been from each other.
Jeff has always been the one who would be the first to volunteer for the craziest ideas that the rest of the group came up with. The conversation usually started with “hey Jeff, I bet you can’t…” Well, Jeff was born with this unbelievable degree of competitiveness which has driven him throughout his entire life. He was a collegiate football player and has always been an amazing athlete. Jeff went on to be a professional boxer and is a retired US Marine.
Jeff has an amazing story that is riddled with tragedy that would bring anyone to their knees. He lost his father at a very young age which lead him to make many reckless decisions in his life. He was finally brought to his to his knees after the accidental death of his son. He was lost after Jake’s death and started pounding the pavement running several times a day. He felt that the running helped take away his pain but he was absolutely destroying his body. However, Crossfit was recommended to him by a friend of his wife. Crossfit allowed him to relieve some of his chronic pain and stop his pain medications from multiple old military injuries but he was still struggling with an internal undercurrent that had been around most of his life.
Throughout his entire life Jeff has battled depression. The combination of the loss of his mentor, Father’s Day, a ruptured relationship with his daughter and Jake’s birthday took him down a path of a failed suicide attempt. Jeff realized after making this tragic decision that he truly did have an amazing support group and God had decided it was not his time to go be with Jake.
Jeff decided to find a purpose in his life which has been through CrossFit. He sees CrossFit as a platform to help him tell his story about tragedy and how faith brought him to the other side. He has visited multiple boxes to openly share his story about his life’s journey and how God has used CrossFit to help him heal.
My husband, son and I made the long journey to California last year to support Jeff as he made his first challenge for the coveted Crossfit podium. We all had shirts made that said Goebel to the Games (which you can see in the above picture). The above picture is after the games at my sister-in-law’s box where Jeff came to speak about his journey. We are all standing up front supporting him and holding back tears because to talk about his adversity can just break your heart. However, his entire attitude this is God’s plan and he will follow it faithfully.
Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it. Ezra 10:4
As we board a plane tomorrow to make our second journey to Carson, we are all praying for another amazing journey for Jeff. Last year he was a little known athlete who came out of nowhere and took 4th place overall. He shocked the entire Crossfit community because he was relentless and his drive is beyond comprehension. You will see that around his neck is a wooden cross that is tied with brown leather. He holds that up to the Heavens at the end of his finishes because he is giving all the Glory to God. The picture above is after his final WOD in which he tied for 2nd place. The sheer joy on his face for completing this amazing weekend and believing in himself is self-evident in the picture. He fought a hard battle all week but never gave up and never said a negative word.
Join us as a Crossfit community in our support of this amazing athlete. His journey has taken a long and winding road but has ultimately ended with Jeff on top and with a stronger faith than imaginable. No matter what happens this week in Carson, Jeff’s faith is unstoppable and he will continue to spread the work of God's Glory to anyone who will listen to his testimony.