Some of you may already know Sol as the gal with the biggest smile in the room or the one who’s on her back after the WOD because she gave it her all. We have gotten to work with Sol for almost a year now and I wanted her to share some of her incredible stories!
Give us some background on you: Where are you from? What did you enjoy doing as a kid?
I grew up in San Bernardino ,Ca into an environment no child should have to endure. When I was 14 years old I made the decision to move to Port Hueneme with my dad’s side of the family. And that’s when I fell in love with the beach. Growing up there weren’t very many moments I could have as a kid, so living down the street from the beach made it easy to go there and escape. I felt as though the only thing more chaotic in my life was how the waves worked. They crashed into the shore and into each other so wildly! It gave me those moments where I didn’t have to think, and somewhere in that I was calm; it centered me. I left my mother’s house due to abuse and came to live with my dad who was engulfed in heroin addiction. I don’t know what was more painful as a kid; seeing the most important person to you high all the time, or feeling unloved because of it. At the time I couldn’t see how much my father was struggling to fight his own demons.
Being torn down at my moms house lead me to start drinking at age 11.
once I moved away, I drank heavily. I couldn’t comprehend my emotions of pain at that age, nor did I want to. I was just a kid who wanted to be a kid. I never wanted to be home because I didn’t want to see my father in pain and I didn’t want to have to sleep on the floor in a tiny house and wait to use the one bathroom we had. So I excelled in high school and played multiple sports, I gained many friends who’s parents supported me and helped whenever they could. It made me sad inside knowing that someone else’s parents were willing to help, but now my own. I thought that if I was the best in my class and if I excelled at sports, my mom would love me, that I’d be accepted, that my dad would stop using drugs, that my family would be okay. But in my head it was never enough, I was never enough.
At some point, you ran into a little trouble, can you share with us what happened?
By the time I was 16 I was struggling with depression and alcohol addiction wasn’t enough to kill pain so I started doing drugs more heavily. Even if I had aunts and uncles who tried to help or show me they cared, it was already too late. Growing up so independent I was now at a point where I could never fully trusted anyone. By the time I was 19 I got my first DUI. I blacked out drunk with a passenger in my car I ran a red light. ended up in a car crash that led me to stay the weekend in jail, and left my friend with a broken arm.
I felt horrible but I continued to go down the wrong path and 8 months later I crashed into a fence while drunk yet again. I tried to stay sober but I couldn’t, the detoxing was too much for me and I could not cope with my emotions. What ended things for me was the morning I woke up in the police station in the “drunk tank” for public intoxication, that morning It was my little brothers 8th birthday.
I stayed sober for a month and having never been charged for any of my crimes, I received all the documents from the courthouse with a case built against me. at the bottom it read,
“Prison eligible” This my life changed.
There is a person I met when I was 19. She gave me a job when I so desperately needed one and even after my struggles with my DUI’s and addiction she never fired me, she never turned away and ignored it. She was always there to help and she was the first person in my life to ever say “what are WE going to do about this” as if it was her responsibility, as if I mattered enough to her for her to not give up on me. So thats when life got worse before it could get better. We ended up fighting my case for almost a year, all the while I had been in a residential treatment program, then moved into a sober living and even got a job as a baker and then a sou chef. I thought life was going good. I was sober and had support from friends.
May 13th (my 21st birthday) we were scheduled at the courthouse for sentencing, when I heard the judge say 4years and 4 months and they took me away I was in shock. Crying looking back at my support system. Prison, i couldn’t believe it. All I could think was that I never wanted to hurt anyone, I didn’t mean to get in those car crashes, why couldn’t the judge see that I was just a pained child who needed help. I didn’t accept my wrong doings until I was there, behind all those gates. I accepted that I had made mistakes, accidentally or not, I hurt people. I needed to figure out a way that I could take advantage of my time in a place where all you had was time.
Thats when I found out how much I truly loved to exercise.
I ended up serving most of my time at a women’s conservation camp where I was a wild land firefighter.
I was released from prison November 2018
You have grown an amazing amount not only as an athlete but also as a person since I met you last year, What was it like adjusting to life after leaving prison?
After leaving I had been put on parole for mandatory 2 years. I check in and submit urine tests. I cannot leave out of a 50 mile radius. I must attend drug and alcohol meetings, I attended DUI school to obtain a license. I had all of these rules when I got out, it was definitely a struggle. I think the worst thing for me was trying to explain my situation when I mentioned being on parole to people. Automatically being judged as a killer or looked at with some negative expression on their faces.
My first year out I have had to struggle with the feeling of having to prove myself to world, to prove that I am worthy of having a life. I’ve had to fight to not be looked down upon, by continuing to have strong work ethic and a positive attitude.
Has having CrossFit (and/or the gym) in your life helped with getting back on your feet?
I will say the one thing that has always helped me keep a level head has been exercise. When I come to CFOx and do a WOD, I don’t have time to think, all those thoughts about not being good enough, being a felon, a screw up; they all leave. I am in a place where everyone accepts me and I’m able to push past all of my demons and give the workout everything that I’ve got. When its all done, the sense of pride I get in myself, knowing I gave it my best is overwhelming. Going to CFOx and working out in general helps me to realize that I am not just a screw up, that I have grown so much, and that I can do anything. I refuse to let my circumstances get the best of me.
What are you most proud of since making your come back?
Since being out, I’d have to say the thing I’m proud of the most is just being able to struggle and overcome it. I rode a bike everywhere for the first year out; rain or shine. And I didn’t give up. I haven’t let the stresses in life overtake my determination for a better one and thats what I’m proud of. I am proud of the woman I am today.
You have some exciting news that will take you away from us a bit but will help you grow even more, What does Sol’s next chapter look like?
Even though I won’t be going to CFOx as often as I’d like, I am excited to be starting my career in wild land firefighting. I will work on a hand crew and travel all over California helping control forest fires. My goal in life is to leave the world knowing I did something good. those same feelings I get when I workout, I get them when I’m on the fire line, knowing I give my all to helping my crew, to saving homes, and to helping the planet; thats what makes life great to me.
What is some advice that you think would be useful for us as we live our lives?
I think what I’ve learned the most trough my chapters of struggle is that; people make mistakes, we can choose to let them hinder us or we can choose to admit our short comings and arise out of our downfalls that much more determined. whatever happens in life, we are all human, we all make mistakes, but we can all grow from them.