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.