CrossFit Champions

Matthew and William Couture’s success at the CrossFit Open


Provided by Jeremy Couture

William Couture completing a deadlift.

Over three weeks, from March 11 to 29, the 2021 CrossFit Games were held around the world with the top athletes competing for victory. Competing in the main games has certain requirements, but the CrossFit Open does not have the same qualifications. Due to the continuation of COVID-19, this year was different from those before and was even more open.

“This year’s Open will be the most accessible in @CrossFit history, with flexible options for participants to compete either at their local gym or at home, with or without equipment, should they face local closures or have health concerns,” @crossfitgames posted on Instagram on Jan. 1.

Sophomores Matthew and William Couture, who are both on the autism spectrum, decided to push themselves and compete in the Men’s Adaptive: Intellectual division of the Open. The Adaptive divisions are created for people with mental and physical disabilities, which gives those individuals a chance to compete with people at their own level. Even though there were specific requirements for these divisions, there were no age accommodations, meaning that Matthew and William, at just 16 years old, had to compete against adults.

“When I noticed that the CrossFit Open included divisions for Adaptive Athletes for the first time, I ran the idea of Matt and Will competing by their coach, Stephanie Hoffman,” Jeremy Couture, Matthew and William’s father, said. “She was enthusiastic about it, so I asked the boys if they wanted to do it, and they both were eager to do so. We made it a friendly competition between the three of us so that it was something we experienced together.”

The CrossFit Open was made up of four different events. They started with hand-release knee push-ups and lateral hops. Next, they had dumbbell snatches and burpee broad jumps. The third was dumbbell front squats, sit-ups and dumbbell thrusters. After that, they had four max rep deadlifts.

“As soon as they come in there is a schedule for the session prepared so they know what they will be doing,” Matthew and William’s coach Stephanie Hoffman said. “At first they needed more invasive instruction but over time they’ve gotten to know the different rules of the gym, movements, stretches and skills to run a lot of their session more independently which really helped them while competing in the open.”

At the end of the competition, William and Matthew ended up finishing 47th and 48th, respectively, worldwide, 18th and 19th in the U.S. and 4th and 5th worldwide for athletes under the age of 18 in their division.

“Like many kids, Matt and Will did team sports like soccer, basketball and baseball growing up, but they’ve taken to CrossFit in a way that they didn’t in other sports,” Jeremy said. “They are a testament to what kids on the autism spectrum can accomplish.”