For Cartersville native Lindsay Bourdon Menerey, the road to becoming a pro was unique and filled with obstacles along the way.
However, Bourdon Menerey is now within weeks of realizing the dream of becoming a professional athlete as she is a member of the D.C. Brawlers of the National Pro Grid League, a new sport that will begin its inaugural season Aug. 26.
“I think that’s going to be one of the coolest experiences out of all of this. I never thought being a professional athlete would happen in my life, so it’s kind of cool that it’s all coming down to this and this is my way into professional athletics,” she said. “To actually get to travel to these cities and compete, it’s a dream come true.”
The National Pro Grid League is strategic team athletics racing in which two co-ed teams (five men and five women, one of each over 40 years old) compete head-to-head throughout a season. The two-hour matches have 11 races with fixed rules and unlimited substitutions. Teams compete directly against their live opponent to determine the win or loss.
“Each race has its own rules, but you can sub players in and out, kind of like you would do in a basketball game,” Bourdon Menerey described. “There is a lot of movement of sport, very explosive, high intensity — lifting weights, all the way from Olympic lifting to power lifting to your most technical barbell movements, essentially all the way down the line to gymnastics movements. There’s gymnastics rolls on the rings, muscle ups and high reps pull-ups, and stuff you would do as a gymnast.
“Each coach can strategize how they want their players to stack up in that race, so a race can entail moving from quadrant to quadrant and doing 10 front squats per quadrant and the next three can be some gymnastics movements and a barbell movement. You just never know. They change all the time. They have a plethora of movements to them, just a lot of changing around and fun to watch.”
Bourdon Menerey’s unique journey began with an 18-year background in gymnastics, which included five Level 10 Junior Olympic National Championship appearances. She won two second-place all-around finishes at the Level 10 Junior Olympic Nationals in high school and qualified as a two-time USA Junior Olympic Team member. She received a full scholarship to the University of Michigan, but her career was cut short after four ankle surgeries.
After her time at Michigan, Bourdon Menerey went into CrossFit. She is now the co-owner of CrossFit Adrenaline in Cartersville.
CrossFit is a physical exercise philosophy and a competitive fitness sport. CrossFit workouts incorporate elements from high-intensity training, including olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, calisthenics, strongman and other exercises.
“After I got out of my career with gymnastics, I felt like how everyone feels when they get out of athletics. You kind of don’t really know where you stand as far as the fitness regiment goes and looking for something more than just going to the gym and running on a treadmill and lifting some weight,” Bourdon Menerey said of why she got into CrossFit. “I found CrossFit and loved it. I was good at it with my gymnastics background and kind of ran away with it from there.”
Bourdon Menerey certainly took to the sport as her team came in third place at the 2013 CrossFit games. The team also finished in second place in the Southeast Regionals in 2012 and 2013, and finished first in 2014.
Her success at gymnastics and CrossFit made her an ideal candidate for the new NPGL and she was recruited to join the D.C Brawlers.
“I didn’t really know too much about it when [Brawlers head coach Justin Cotler] brought it to the table,” Bourdon Menerey said of Grid. “He had me research it and said that ‘you would be a good candidate for this stuff.’ That day I looked into it and loved it. It’s totally up my alley.”
The Brawlers are ranked as the preseason No. 1 in the eight-team NPGL. The team will play its games out of the Patriot Center, where the George Mason basketball team plays its home games in Washington, D.C. Other cities in the league include, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Miami and San Francisco.
The Brawlers’ first game is Aug. 26 in Phoenix.
“I fully believe that Justin Cotler has done an amazing job with our team, so we’re excited to see what’s going to unfold in the first season,” Bourdon Menerey said. “I think you have to look at it as being a paid professional athlete. If you’re going to do that job, you need to put your whole heart into that. Hopefully, the season will go really well. It’s going to be a new experience for all of us athletes, so we’re very excited to take on the new sport.”