While most enjoyed the unofficial start to summer while observing Memorial Day, a few former Scarlet Knights were off competing at Regionals of the CrossFit Games.
Following outstanding careers “On the Banks,” Rutgers student-athletes transition their competitive drive into their new everyday lives. Three former Scarlet Knights have found that outlet through successful journeys in Crossfit, as Adam Klink, Emmy Simpkins and Jack Corcoran each participated in the Regionals of the CrossFit Games across the past two weekends.
The CrossFit Games are the world’s premier test to find the Fittest on Earth™. They are world-renowned as a grueling test for the world’s toughest athletes and a thrilling experience for spectators. It all starts off with the CrossFit Open, an event anyone from the age 14 and up can participate. From there, there are 17 different world regionals where the top 20 in the region qualify to compete. The top five finishers at Regionals qualify to the CrossFit Games in hopes of being crowned the Fittest on Earth™.
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All three of the qualifying former Scarlet Knights caught up with ScarletKnights.com to chat about their journey through the games and their life after Rutgers.
Adam Klink inscribed his career “On the Banks” as a goalkeeper for Rutgers men’s soccer from 2009-11. Klink started 20 contests in net, including 14 games in 2010, while racking up a team-best 57 saves in the season. Klink was also a member of the 2011 squad which made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
After being sidelined for his senior season due to injury, Klink was in search of something to fill the void of his competitive edge and athletic drive. Enter CrossFit. The Chesapeake, Va. native followed an old high school friend into the world of CrossFit, watching workouts on YouTube and training to perfect the moves. Klink competed in his first Regional the day of his commencement.
“After I graduated, I skipped graduation because I was competing in my first Regionals,” said Klink. “Then the next day I drove down to Virginia where I grew up. Now I am the head coach at CrossFit Krypton, which is owned by the Fittest Man in the World, Ben Smith, who won the CrossFit Games.”
While working in the same gym owned by the friend who inspired him to get into CrossFit, Klink continues to train and compete.
Over the past four years, Klink has competed at the MidAtlantic Regionals. In a region which saw nearly 12,000 men vying for one of the top 20 spots, Klink finished 15th this year and competed in Atlanta, Ga. on May 20-22, registering two top 20 finishes in the events and a sixth place finish in Event 5.
Throughout the journey Klink uses the roots he learned through his time as a Scarlet Knight to guide him.
“Rutgers has prepared us a great deal for anything that we want to do in life. CrossFit is just another thing we have gotten into,” said Klink. “I think the strenuous schedule of our everyday life while we were a student-athlete, having to be on top of our school work as well as training. It went hand in hand with a sport like CrossFit where you have to be so nitpicky and work on so many things and be structured in that sense.”
Not only has his Rutgers’ years helped him in the CrossFit and fitness aspect of his life, but his everyday endeavors as well.
“It taught me to never give up and to keep fighting and that holds true to CrossFit and every workout and every day,” said Klink. “Stuff is not going to go as planned or you are not going to do as well as you had hoped, but you just have to know you are getting better every day.”
Emmy Simpkins made her impact on Scarlet Knight history as a former goalkeeper for Rutgers women’s soccer from 2009-12. The two-time captain for the Scarlet Knights inscribed her name into the career all-time records, ranking fifth in shutouts (16), seventh in career saves (183), and 10th in save percentage (.785). Simpkins was a part of two NCAA qualifying squads in 2009 and 2012, serving as the starting goalkeeper in the 2012 campaign.
During her time at RU, coaches Glenn Crooks and Mike O’Neill guided Simpkins to focus on her fitness. In order to pass all her Rutgers mandated fitness tests, Simpkins found success in CrossFit increasing her fitness and improving her skill on the field.
“I did it at first to help my soccer career and help me keep my starting position. It was more of a supplement to soccer,” said Simpkins. “As a Division I athlete, I think I speak on behalf of every DI athlete after you lose that competing edge when graduate and you don’t have the opportunity to go on to play professionally you miss that. You miss that competition feeling. You miss the adrenaline rushes, the good moments, the bad moments.”
Simpkins helped fill that void by transitioning into competing in the CrossFit Games. After finishing victorious in her first competition ever, Simpkins was hooked to CrossFit in a new way. The Concord, N.C. native most recently competed in the top 20 of the East Regionals on May 27-30 in Albany, N.Y., finishing 16th overall with two top 10 finishes in the events.
One takeaway from her time at Rutgers that has helped her find success in CrossFit was learning to deal with adversity. Simpkins often resorts to her favorite quote from Coach O’Neill, ‘when something goes wrong you can do two things: you can put your head down or you can roll your sleeves up and go to work.’ Hearing those words in the back of her mind has helped her push through.
“It translates over to CrossFit because in the middle of a workout, in the middle of competition, things can go completely south,” said Simpkins. “You can miss a lift. You can let go of the pull up bar. You can stop working before someone else does and it is how you deal with that moment that is going to allow you to come back and win or shutdown and completely shut off.”
It is the same mentality that helped Simpkins and her class build the foundation of the women’s soccer program, a team that reached the Final Four for the first time in 2015.
“I am beyond proud,” Simpkins exclaimed. “I had so much fun watching them this past season. Just to see the progress of the program and to think that my class had something to do with it is really cool. All of the seniors that were leaders of the team this past season were all freshman when I was there. And it’s really cool to think that we helped mold them to be the players and the leaders that they are.”
While she wore many hats as a student-athlete between class, practice, and more, Simpkins has found a similar lifestyle following graduation. The former goalkeeper owns her own CrossFit Gym in Belmar, N.J., called CrossFit Speakeasy.
“I coach full time, I am one of the business owners, I train full time,” said Simpkins. “I like to joke with my friends that I am a professional exerciser so it is very similar to college. I have work that needs to be done as far as that can relate to like my schoolwork and the other time I am training for competitions like I am getting ready for gameday. I always have one goal in mind and every day is a building block to that goal.”
Jack Corcoran donned the scarlet uniform for Rutgers football from 2006-09. The Atlantic City, N.J. native started in 20 of 51 games at fullback, while guiding Rutgers to four consecutive bowl victories. Following his career “On the Banks,” Corcoran signed with the Houston Texans as a free agent and went on to spend time with the San Francisco 49ers.
“After I got cut from the San Francisco 49ers, it was my second year on the NFL merry-go-round and once I got cut I was looking for a new thing,” Cocoran explained. “I needed something to channel my competitive spirit.
“I had a buddy who told me about CrossFit and said ‘I think you’d be pretty good at it. You have a really good time doing it and you get in shape.’ I was weary about it at first, but I went in and tried it and the first workout I just loved it. It’s been every single day since then for about four years.”
With most of the core workouts of CrossFit being similar to his workouts with Rutgers football, Corcoran was able to transition perfectly and find a passion in it. Not only does the physical aspect equate, but the former full back credits the mental toughness aspect he developed.
“I learned so much from Rutgers, especially mental toughness. In CrossFit, you have to go to a dark place and kind of being comfortable being uncomfortable. Coach Schiano loved that saying to going and pushing yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of,” said Corcoran.
After competing last year as an individual, this year Corcoran is a part of the team that has qualified for the East Regionals. The squad competed from May 27-29 in Albany, N.Y. and finished second on the leaderboard to advance to the CrossFit Games.
In addition to training with his team, Corcoran dedicates his time to coaching CrossFit. Outside of the athletic realm, the Atlantic City, N.J. native also assists in the family business of real estate. Corcoran still finds the time to support the Scarlet Knights.
“I love the New Jersey pride. Being my alma mater, I watch every game I can and support any way I can. Not just in football. I am a big wrestling fan as well. I support every Rutgers team, but specifically I keep up with the wrestling team,” Corcoran exclaimed.
Not only has his Scarlet Knight passion never wavered, the mentality and focus of being a Scarlet Knight has also remained strong for Corcoran.
“Rutgers was tough mentally as well as physically. You had to be tough to do everything right,” said Corcoran. "We weren’t allowed to skip any classes whatsoever. No excuses. Get it done type of attitude. And not just being a good football player but being a good human, being a good student, being a good teammate, being a good person. It’s making sure you know that you give everything you got at all times.”
Up next, Corcoran and his team, CrossFit Parallax, will compete at the CrossFit Games from July 19-24 in Carson, Calif.
To learn more about CrossFit and the CrossFit Games, click here.