Will Moorad - The making of a champion
"I finished third this weekend, so almost there," said CrossFit pro Will Moorad, after the April Mid-Atlantic CrossFit competition in Washington D.C. "Hopefully in the next few events we can climb up a few spots!"
Like any great success story, this level of achievement did not just happen.
Will grew up in Brentwood, Tennessee, in a family of athletes. He played soccer at Ravenwood High School, and his father Doug was a former professional soccer player. His older brother Adam played Division 1 soccer in school, and his sister Sarah was a gymnast and cheerleader (taking after Mom Judy).
After graduation, Will went to Belmont University, an NCAA Division 1 school, on a soccer scholarship. There he met teammate Wade Wonderlin, and they became close friends. (Wade is now his manager). Will briefly left school to try his hand at preseason farm league soccer but was cut before the season began. Still determined to excel as an athlete, he went back to college and got his B.S. in Exercise Science while pushing himself in the gym.
Will discovered the world of CrossFit competition in 2011 and trained by working out at Belmont and in his mom's garage. He placed 20th in the Central East Open, and only months later achieved 11th in the Regional in 2013. Will had found his sport.
Moving on to 2014, Will finished 6th in the Open, then 3rd at Regionals, ending up behind Rich Froning, the champion and three-time Games veteran Scott Panchik. Coming in 3rd was his ticket to the CrossFit Games in Carson, California. These are the equivalent of the Olympic Games in the sport of CrossFit, and you have to place high enough in regional competitions to qualify for the Games. Will did just that. He placed 14th in the Games and met his soon-to-be coach Max El-Hag. Will was a natural and made the decision to train full time for CrossFit, returning home to Tennessee.
Will began working with Coach Max, owner of the Training Think Tank, and soon opened his own affiliate called CrossFit Rigged. He married his sweetheart Cassandra and bought a house, and did it all in the same year! He even brought home a pup named Mogli. His future as a CrossFit champion seemed guaranteed. In 2015 he made it to the Regionals in Minnesota but missed going to Worlds by two spots. 2016 saw another great finish; he was only one spot back from making it to the Worlds.
Like any serious athlete, Will has had highs and lows, injuries, and setbacks. A frightening diagnosis of renal failure in 2017 looked like the end of his goal to be any kind of professional athlete, let alone a CrossFit world champion. At 27 years old, Will was hospitalized for a week in Miami and told he had lgA-nephropathy, a disease that occurs when IgA, a protein meant to defend the body against foreign invaders, accumulates in the kidneys and damages them.
When Will got out of the hospital, he went back home to Tennessee, sold his gym, and took a corporate tech job for about a year, during which time he was seeing a nephrologist.
So, what changed? Thankfully, it was a medical misdiagnosis. Will called Coach Max and said he was ready to come back. Max arranged for Will to be part of a CrossFit team competition in January of 2018, and they got second place. Will quit the corporate job, signed on with Promera Sports, and returned to his sport. "After the health scare, it was very important for me to trust everything thing I was putting into my body," he explained. "Teaming up with Promera has allowed me to have complete peace of minding about the supplements I take on a daily basis."
"Teaming up with Promera has allowed me to have complete peace of minding about the supplements I take on a daily basis."
Max has been with Will since 2014, and he marvels at Will's ability to move forward in spite of setbacks. "I attribute part of his anti-fragility to his cerebral nature and passionate approach to life," explains Max. "I have learned much as a coach from Will and feel honored to be a part of his preparation in the veteran stages of his CrossFit pursuits."
Manager and friend Wade had similar comments on Will's perseverance as an athlete. "We both hate to lose. If we compete against each other, expect some banter-filled smack talk."
Through all the highs and lows, including the serious and potentially career-ending misdiagnosis of renal failure, Will "remained the same person during all of it," said Wade. What that doctor told him "rocked his world," but Will took it as a challenge and set about finding out what to do next. As Wade said of his friend, "it's during rough times that a person's character really comes out. You find out how you react when life throws bad things your way."
"it's during rough times that a person's character really comes out. You find out how you react when life throws bad things your way."
What is training like for this dedicated athlete at the top of his sport? Will describes his sessions as "three daily workouts ranging from 30 minutes to two hours each." Will said he watched all of the Regional competitions last year to prepare for the work ahead. "The body of work that the athletes put in over the course of the year is the real separator in my eyes," he explained.
One week before the D.C. event Will was focused. There were 20 athletes, and only one spot was available. "For me, my faith is the biggest part of my preparation. It gives me peace, allows me to relax," he said. "I would tell others to surround themselves with people who love them and support their dreams."
Will also coaches individual clients and has trained thousands of people over the years. He has inspired other CrossFit athletes and also worked with police officers trying to stay fit on the job, and many military personnel, including a former Green Beret.
Will is now working to earn his spot at the 2019 CrossFit Games in Madison, Wisconsin, and has three chances to qualify. He will be competing in championships in Iceland, Brazil, and France. The winner will get to compete at the CrossFit Games in August.
As Will and Coach Max look forward to the future challenges, Max looks back on the five years he has spent dedicated to CrossFit. "Will communicated to me that his goal after returning to his sport was to make it back to the CrossFit Games and stand on the podium."
When Will heads for Brazil, he will be bringing two of his own clients with him. "This is such a refreshing thing for me, to actually help guys get to the highest level of sport, not just getting them in shape," he said.
Will is 29, stands 5'9", and weighs in at 190 pounds of solid muscle. He estimates that the age range for a CrossFit athlete at the top of his game is between 27 and 32 years old, so he is in his prime as a competitor. As Will gets older, he plans to transition gradually, putting more of his efforts into coaching. Currently, he is about 70 percent athlete and 30 percent coach. "I want to burn that candle down," he muses. "It's a pretty cool thing I get to have this second chance."
By Sherry Ballou Hanson
This article was featured in the July/August 2019 issue of OnFitness Magazine BUY A COPY HERE