The CrossFit Scholarship Program: Igniting a Spark

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The CrossFit Scholarship Program () seeks to spark meaningful health-care changes in underrepresented and underserved communities by providing free access to the CrossFit Level 1 Certificate Course (). CrossFit, in partnership with Steve’s Club () and the Green Beret Project (), recently held its fourth Scholarship Level 1 Course at CrossFit South Philly () in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“I think the goal of the scholarship weekend is to ignite a spark,” says Jenn Hunter-Marshall, who led the course with fellow Seminar Staff members Chuck Carswell and Larry Thomas. “I wish I had the opportunity to experience something like this when I was their age,” she adds.

Thomas says, “I think an underlying piece of this always is just being a positive role model.”

Thomas and Hunter-Marshall both note that young people interested in fitness may struggle to find role models who look like them or share their life experiences.

“It’s definitely worth mentioning that there aren’t necessarily people in our position who have the knowledge, expertise, and willingness to help these young individuals who are from our background, whether it be racially, ethnically, or whatever else that case may be coming into this,” Thomas says.

Hunter-Marshall, a former teacher and now a CrossFit Level 4 Coach, notes that she only had one teacher of color throughout her schooling, and she has a master’s degree. She explains that she had to create her own road map without someone else’s footsteps to follow in.

“This weekend has been an opportunity to not just teach exercise but to lead life lessons and to open up or expose a group of young people to different paths in life,” Hunter-Marshall says.

The Level 1, she explains, is a “pathway or entryway” that gives participants access to knowledge and experiences that they then can take further.

“These kids have the opportunity to magnify the benefit and gratification that they personally themselves have received … so they can train relatives and friends and neighbors and improve the health and quality of their community. They can potentially become trainers and open businesses and provide job opportunities for their community … and help everyone around them rise up,” Thomas says.

“What’s been awesome for me is an opportunity to write a different script for somebody else,” Hunter-Marshall says. 

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