Inspiration: Whispery in Voice, Loud in Results

To overcome difficulties is to experience the full delight of existence.
— Arthur Schopenhauer

Coach Izzy

Coralynn ArcandIt is those facing the greatest barriers who are the least interested in burdening others with sob-sob stories. Instead, they quietly take action to achieve their dreams and conquer adversity, inspiring us in the process. One of greatest examples of such tenacity and determination came to my life humbly but powerfully. I would’ve never imagined the magnitude of her ordeal if others had not told me first. Her energy and smile concealed events that would leave most in despair.

It was the late summer of 2011 when I met her, in a warm day highlighted by refreshing Puget Sound breezes, its salt water tang, and a reminder to enjoy the long hours of daylight. I was coaching a raucous group of dedicated athletes in the fine aspects of Olympic Weightlifting at Bainbridge Crossfit Outcome, when I noticed a new face. Though shy, she produced a smile rivaling the brightness of the Northwest sun that afternoon.

“Hi, I’m Coralynn,” she said extending her hand in greeting, “nice to meet you, coach.”
“What’s your experience with O. Lifting?” I enquired, delighted at her energy and firm hand-shake.
“Not much, but I want to learn and get good.”

That sufficed for me. She was eager, hard-working, and paid attention.

We were reviewing the mechanics of the split-jerk, when I noticed her having difficulty. It wasn’t anything significant but if she corrected it, she could drive under the bar with more efficiency. I asked her what prevented her from bringing her front foot more forward during the split. She mentioned her hip bothered her if she did so. That was sufficient to have her modify to the push-jerk where she found no difficulty.

I took note and thought no more of it. As a pain therapist and strength coach, I’m well aware we all bring our repertoire of injuries and dysfunctions to the training floor. Some are minor, some are significant, but they all should be acknowledged and the limitations respected. Dealing with injured athletes was nothing novel in my practice.

The following week Coralynn was back energetic and smiling, ready for hard training. This session was quite busy as I dealt with new and seasoned athletes. The lift of the day was the squat clean and I approached Coralynn when I noticed her having difficulty.

“My hip kind of bothers me,” she informed me.

“Hmm, the hip again…” I thought as I instructed her to modify to the power clean. I made it a point to ask Coralynn for more details at the end of the session.

But it wasn’t to be. I was bombarded with questions and when the dust settled, Coralynn had already left. All that remained was chalk chunks scattered on the platforms and some items that would find their way to the lost-and-found bin.

“Dude,” I asked Sal DeRosalia, head coach and owner of Bainbridge Crossfit Outcome, “do you by any chance know what’s wrong with Coralynn’s hip?”

Sal went mute.

“Uhhh…” he managed to reply after a few seconds.

“Uhhh…” the ever politically incorrect Sal was looking for an appropriate answer. This had to be serious.

“Um, bro,” he finally spoke, “she got run over by a drunk driver in February.”
“What? Last year?
“No, THIS year.

This time, it was I who went mute.

Coralynn Facing Tough Moments

“Was it serious?” I muttered in shock, too late to recall my words as I realized their stupidity.

“Duh!” replied Sal, “what else can it be when you get run over by a van?”

He then directed me to From The Ground Up, a page Coralynn had created to document her recovery and show others what is possible with faith, purpose, and perseverance.

I felt joy reading her pages. Joy in seeing her overcome insurmountable odds and prove the nay-sayers wrong. Of all the activities she could’ve picked, she went for the challenges of CrossFit. How do you go from nearly paralyzed to CrossFit in only a few months? But that was the Coralynn I’d get to know. Someone who rejected the role of victim, and where others would choose resentment, she chose forgiveness.

Coralynn Wins! Coralyn Crossfits

Yet I also felt frustration. I felt the uneasiness and restlessness that manifested when it’s time to confront unpleasant thoughts.

The weeks prior to meeting Coralynn had been unusual in my practice. As if summoned by command, the type of clients whose complaints were disproportional to the reality of their conditions appeared. They suffered no major traumas and were capable of living a normal life but, for reasons that escape me, elected to see themselves as victims. It did not matter others were facing larger perils; nobody could possibly suffer more, and they expected an instant cure.

My frustration was from my inability to make them understand that as long as they embraced that role, their pains would be their faithful companions. That expecting instant cure was the sordid fantasy sold by those profiting from the overblown sense of entitlement, instant gratification, and impatience that blinds our society. Nevertheless, I was committed to helping them create a reality in which they were the initiators of recovery, not the passive prisoners of a condition. I directed them to Coralynn’s page to get much needed perspective.

Only one understood the message and while that may not be much, great change starts one at a time. The rest simply left, ever seeking the magic solution to a pain-free life without the nuisance of responsibility. No, I did not kick them out. That would only reinforce the harmful roles they adopted and further their bondage to pain. I see that as counterproductive and unethical to my duties as a pain therapist.

The lessons were not lost in me. I am grateful to Coralynn for teaching me about forgiveness, for proving that even the darkest circumstances harbor light, that it’s in those moments when we are tested and grow wiser. I witnessed Coralynn achieve immeasurable triumphs and fall in gloomy moments. That is nothing against her; in fact, I respect her more as she shared not only her victories but also the moments she showed her humanity and reminded us success is never a straight line. In a society that loves to proclaim their misery and seek blame, Coralynn focused on the positive and let her results do all the talking. Her inspiring video tells the story.

She now lives her dreams as the path she created takes her to discover new friends, places, and life. She is free and she is happy, delighting us with her beautiful art and creativity.

Coralynn's Paintings Coralynn's Art on Surf Board

Thank you, friend, and thank you for proving that a powerful mind, positive attitude, and relentless action accomplish the dreams that words alone can never materialize. As the second year of your rebirth approaches, I honor it by following your example.

I’ll see you in the exercise floor.

Coach Izzy

About The Author


Coach Izzy has been part of the Strength and Conditioning field for over 25 years. He speaks of the advantages of self-sufficiency and the drawbacks of relying on the liner approaches the health world seems fond of.