Daniel Kuc isn’t your typical high school sophomore. He’s part of the 0.2% of kids his age who qualified for the 2018 Rebook CrossFit Games in early August that were held in Madison, Wis. The CrossFit Games hosted athletes from more than 30 countries competing in various events.

Daniel grew up playing soccer and later football and track. His friend’s dad owned a CrossFit gym, DeSoto CrossFit in Southaven, and encouraged him to try it out. Daniel initially started doing CrossFit to improve his strength and speed for football. However, it became his passion, and over the next two years, he eventually quit football to focus solely on CrossFit.

“I originally started out doing the teen class, but I started joining in on the adult classes,” says Daniel. “CrossFit is very technical. When I started, I couldn’t do a lot of the moves, and now I can.” 

Daniel recently joined CrossFit Blue Blood in Olive Branch. He is highly dedicated to his craft and works out up to six hours per day. “I basically work out, go to school, workout, eat and sleep,” he says. During his one active recovery day each week, he swims, hikes, bikes, or does another activity.

In order to qualify for the CrossFit Games in the 14–15 age division, Daniel had to complete two stages of competition. The first one, the Open, occurred over five weeks. Participants were sent one workout per week. From there, the top-200 contenders participated in the online qualifiers: four workouts completed in four days. Out of 9,022 who began the process, only the top 20 were invited to the games; Daniel placed 11 out of 20.

Daniel and his family traveled to Wisconsin in early August for the CrossFit Games. Unfortunately, a back injury kept Daniel from competing. “I talked to my parents, my coach Brittany Fisher, and a CrossFit Orthopedic surgeon, and we decided the smartest thing to do would be to withdraw from the Games and let the stress fracture in my back heal completely.”

While he didn’t compete himself, he enjoyed the atmosphere, participating in CrossFit’s first Opening Ceremony, meeting other athletes, and scoping out his competition. “Once I’m cleared to get back to CrossFit, I plan to work out at 4:30 am before going to school and then again from 4:30 pm until 8 or 9,” Daniel says.

Even with a rigorous gym schedule, he maintains all As at Lewisburg High School and manages to get his homework and studying done during patriot hour. “A lot of kids my age are into things that don’t appeal to me,” Daniel says. “I like the people I’ve met through the gym who share similar interests and goals.”

As far as nutrition goes, Daniel enjoys traditional Polish meals from his mom’s kitchen. He also recently enlisted the help of Amplified Nutrition, who is helping him eat according to his macros to stay in peak shape for CrossFit.

Daniel credits his family’s support for allowing him to excel at CrossFit. “When I first got into it, I didn’t think my parents understood how serious I was. Now they’re my biggest supporters, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without their advice and guidance.”

By Christin Yates