CrossFit Helps Marissa Dudley Face Life After High School Sports

Even though I literally feel like I die every time I do it, CrossFit makes me as happy. - Marissa Dudley

There are two kinds of people in this world. CrossFitters who love to talk about CrossFit and non-CrossFitters who will set PRs in speedwalking and eye-rolling to avoid ever being a part of a conversation about CrossFit.

If you don’t fall into the first category, I’m not sure you’d want to join Arsenal member Marissa Dudley’s family for dinner. They are a family of CrossFitters. Marissa often works out at the 8 AM class, her 12-year-old brother does the CrossFit Kids class, and her mom and dad both take private coaching.

“We all have struggled with weight and working out,” Marissa told me. “But since we’ve started CrossFit, we are all losing weight and eating healthier. It’s awesome. It’s making my family nice! We aren’t mean, but we all get in good moods when we get a good workout in the morning.”

If you know Arsenal member Pam “Pamalee” Peters, you know Marissa’s mom, Geneva. They are BFF concert-going buddies who are surely the country group Parmalee’s biggest fans. I asked Marissa about the concert thing.

“Honestly, by now they should be famous. Pamalee and ParmaGe! They like know them! My mom is friends with one of the band member’s mothers. I’m like, ‘How is this a thing?!?!’ They get right up to the stage, and they are not afraid to punch people if they get up in their face. I think Pam dances more just because my mom likes to listen to the music rather than feel the music.”

Marissa and Pam’s daughter Alyssa played volleyball together at Munciana and at Burris.

Life After Volleyball

“I started playing volleyball in third grade, just doing little lessons and stuff with my sister because she played.  And then at Burris, I played on a team in fourth and fifth grade and then I played for Munciana for years and years. I liked meeting a lot of new people.  Munciana is so big. People from Ohio, Indianapolis, everybody comes.  I met [Arsenal member] Megan Hicks there. Every weekend I was doing volleyball, and it’s crazy. My entire life was volleyball.”

Her entire life was volleyball until it wasn’t. Her last two years of high school volleyball didn’t go as planned. A new coach started at Burris and taught a different style than she was accustomed to at Munciana.

“I was clueless and looked like I never played volleyball before. I wanted to play volleyball.  Volleyball was my life.”

Marissa stuck it out despite the struggle.

“All my life I thought I’d play volleyball in college because I never wanted it to end. But I literally cried my way through both junior and senior year. I started to get burnt out. My senior year . . . it was awful. I don’t talk about it a lot because it was such a bad time in my life.”

This isn’t uncommon. When we live and breathe a single sport, and that sport becomes not as fun or we walk off the court for the last time, we mourn the loss. Many of the former athletes I talk with suffer through this period. When you define yourself as a volleyball player, what do you do when volleyball ends?

A Family That CrossFits Together

Marissa graduated and is attending classes at Ivy Tech with the intent of enrolling at Ball State in another year. She’s not sure what she wants to do yet. She’s still getting used to all the time she has when there are no volleyball practices. One of the ways she is filling that time and facing life after volleyball is through CrossFit. Pam Peters convinced Marissa, Marissa convinced her mom, and together they convinced her dad and her brother.

“I found The Arsenal. It makes me happy. Even though I literally feel like I die every time I do it, it makes me as happy as I was before all of that went down with volleyball. All the people are so nice. I just love going there. I just love the atmosphere, so friendly and uplifting.”

At home, the Dudleys are complaining about workouts, getting in a few burpees before dinner, and talking about something they never thought they would be talking about…CrossFit.

“Now we have The Arsenal, it’s something we can all talk about. It’s more like laughing at each other. My mom will be like, “Oh man, I can’t walk,” or “I can’t get up off the toilet!” I’m kind of nervous about when she comes to actual classes because she will probably kick my butt! She wants to make the transition. I know she’s going to come, so I’m trying to get really, really good.  She’s actually really strong, she doesn’t give herself enough credit. It will be a fun day when she comes.”

“My brother is a big video gamer and doesn’t do a lot of physical activity, but he loves it and never complains about going. Afterwards, he’s always like, ‘Well, Skyler just killed me!’”

“It’s made us a fun family because we are laughing all the time at each other. My dad will come home after a workout and lay on the living room floor, and I’m face timing my mom telling her how funny it is. Dad doing CrossFit . . . it’s crazy.  I love it!”


“My whole life I have struggled with confidence. I’m trying to get it back up so it helps when the coaches say something positive or when Dani Wasson says, ‘Oh my gosh you are doing so well.’ I am just one of those people who thinks I can always do better. I often don’t think I’m good at anything. I’ve always been like that. Being good at something helps me see, ‘Oh I can do it.’  With volleyball, I felt good about it because I know I’m good at it, I know what I’m doing.  And then when that stopped, I’m like, ‘Ok I’m not good at anything anymore.’”  

And that’s where Marissa is wrong. She’s good at laughing and smiling. She seems to be good at being a daughter, sister, and aunt to her niece Franni. She’s good at CrossFit. Don’t take my word for it, I asked Coach and Arsenal General Manager Adam James to weigh in.

“It has been incredible to see the transformation Marissa has undergone in her time at The Arsenal,” Adam told me. “Not just in a physical sense, but a mental and emotional one as well. Seeing her transform from a shy, timid, athlete into a strong, confident athlete, has been truly inspiring.”

Agreed. Marissa is so much more than a volleyball player now.