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Month: January 2017

History in the attic

Every household contains a treasure trove of history. Unfortunately much of that history ends up in an incinerator or a land fill. The treasure trove are the thousands, if not millions, of photographs sitting in attics, basements and storage units of most Keizer families.

When a person who  has lived in one place for many years passes on it falls to their family to distribute and dispose of their homes—furniture, clothing and memoriabilia of their lives. Many times photographs and scrapbooks are disposed of because family members don’t know the people or places in the photo and thus has no value to them.

The Keizer Heritage Museum wants to be part of the disposal process. It is the mission of the museum to collect and archive the history of Keizer, dating back to its earliest days in the 1880s and that includes any photos of Keizer landmarks.

Many photos are of people lost to history, but those people may be posing in front of any number of Keizer sites—schools, businesses, homes—that would be significant to the museum’s collection.

The Keizer Heritage Museum will accept any number of photos (boxes of them, if that be the case), quickly check for historical importance, then either return the photos or dispose of them for the donors.

Keizer has three buldings that date to the late 1890s and early 1900s. The community must rely on photos to know what the city looked like in the early to mid-20th century.

Just as important as photos are documents, posters, yearbooks, etc. that are Keizer-based.

Before casually tossing photos and memoriabilia, consider donating them to the Keizer Heritage Museum and help maintain the fading history of the city.

  —LAZ

Attacking Rep. John Lewis

By MICHAEL GERSON 

Who is John Lewis that Donald Trump should be mindful of him?

Lewis, by one definition, is a 76-year-old, liberal politician with a disturbing habit of hyperbole. He questioned the validity of George W. Bush’s presidential win. He once compared John McCain to George Wallace. Now he questions the legitimacy of Trump’s presidential victory.

By another definition, Lewis was a consequential student leader of the civil rights movement. He led sit-ins to desegregate lunch counters; was one of the original Freedom Riders who integrated buses; experienced the hospitality of places like Mississippi’s Parchman penitentiary; and carried away the memento of a skull fracture from Selma.

It must be said that the whole business of questioning a president’s right to hold office is pernicious. It puts a hard stop on all civility and cooperation. The worst instance, of course, was the claim that Barack Obama was Kenyan-born and disqualified to be president—an argument based on partisan, conspiratorial and quasi-racist lies enthusiastically spread by Trump. When the president-elect calls out Lewis on this topic, it is a display of hypocrisy so large that it is visible from space.

A conservative friend tells me I’m too concerned about Trump’s “manners.” Probably. (Though it strikes me as odd for any conservative to dismiss the gestures of mutual respect that make democracy and human society possible.)

The problem, however, runs deeper. Trump seems to have no feel for, no interest in, the American story he is about to enter. He will lead a nation that accommodated a cruel exception to its founding creed; that bled and nearly died to recover its ideals; and that was only fully redeemed by the courage and moral clarity of the very people it had oppressed. People like Martin Luther King Jr. People like John Lewis.

There are a lot of debunkers at work in American society. They point out that the priest is really a balding, middle-aged man with sweat stains at his armpits. They see the judge as an old woman who has the remnants of lunch caught between her teeth. They see John Lewis as just another career politician. But the priest holds the body of Christ, the judge embodies the rule of law and Lewis once carried the full weight of America’s promise across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Were John Lewis to call me every name in the book, I would still honor him.

Trump often justifies his attacks as counterpunching. Even a glancing blow seems to merit a nuclear response. But this is the exact opposite of the ethical teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, and of the principled nonviolence of the civil rights movement. In these systems of thought, the true victory comes in absorbing a blow with dignity, even with love. It is the substance of King’s message. It is the essence of a cruciform faith.

This is not always easy to translate into politics. But a president-elect attacking a hero of the civil rights movement less than a week before he takes the oath of office is not normal. There is some strange inversion of values at work. Because Vladimir Putin praises him, Trump defends him. Because Lewis criticizes him, Trump attacks him (as “All talk, talk, talk— no action or results”). The only organizing principle is the degree of deference to Trump himself. It is the essence of narcissism.

A broader conception of the American story, a respect for the heroes and ghosts of our history, is absent in Trump’s public voice. He seems to be in the thrall of an eternal now. To some, the whole idea of a historical imagination will sound nebulous. Abraham Lincoln called it the “mystic chords of memory.” He hung his hopes for unity on the existence of a shared national experience that transcended regional differences. Today our divisions are more along lines of class and culture, but we also need to hear our story as one people.

Not every citizen shares this sense of history. It is a minority of Americans who visit Antietam and feel oppressed by the immense weight of collective death; or go to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis and feel sickened by the scale of such a loss; or walk across that bridge in Selma and hear the echoes of snarling dogs and nightsticks against bone.

But we need a president who respects and evokes this story—or at least does not peevishly attack its heroes.

(Washington Post Writers Group)

Losing jobs to automation

How much longer will increasing numbers of Americans not find work at jobs that pay by the hour, are salaried or paid work of any kind? With the number of machines gone automatic, robots and computers replacing people, inexpensive imported goods and the decline in routine factory assembly and office clerk work, along with the immediate cost and incurred debt of professional training schools, many Americans have just given up. In the meantime, our population has increased exponentially; so, can it be any other than the present time that we recognize the numbers of Americans not employed or employable.

For hundreds of years we’ve believed that work and/or a job was the place where a person acquired discipline, initiative, honesty, self-reliance and, as bonus, character, too.  Further, a job was a source of a person’s very survival; no job meant the inability to buy food, a roof overhead, a safe place to sleep, and family support. It’s been important also that, through work, “You make something of yourself.”

But we’re going through a break-neck period of change where more and more of those among us choose, or more likely, forced, into being without a job.  At present, that means those —who are homeless—become a class of outcasts, being driven from one open space or empty building to another without permanency anywhere. Those persons in that condition have risen in number to a point where they cannot be ignored because they are threatening social order.

Meanwhile, both liberals and conservatives make “full employment” their mantra, when, in reality, as any American with wide-open eyes knows, no matter how repeatedly emphatic the promises made by those seeking office and those who’ve won office, job creation to fill the need is no longer a realistic solution.  That fact has become inarguably true no matter how many corporations Donald Trump tries to strong arm into bringing back jobs or staying here.

So it is rapidly becoming  this year and next and thereafter that we will be forced to think a lot more about why we labor, demanding of us to develop new ways of finding meaning, character, and means of support beyond our work day world of the past.  After all, we do face an Aldous Huxley-like Brave New World of wholly mind-boggling change where the worst nightmare just may be Richard Fleischer’s Soylent Green.

Work has been civilization’s mainstay—its Gibraltor. The Industrial Revolution brought changes of great upheaval to modern humankind in the 1800s that we Americans, and in other nations, too, have been trying to cope with ever since.  The battle goes on at present where everyone, according to the more conservative-minded among us, must pull his and her own weight, while liberal factions want mercy delivered to those who’ve not been granted measures of good fortune or been able to “make it.”

A future with an ever larger population and fewer work opportunities will demand a new social paradigm.  One which no longer allows, for just one salient example, an American CEO to retire with a $180 million golden parachute and gobs more money from stock options while multitudes of other Americans die of exposure on the nation’s streets and byways while a whole of children can only get fed at schools, if fed at all.   Will we be proactive or reactive, will it be reform in time or revolution?

(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)

McNary presents The Addams Family musical

The cast of The Addams Family sings and dances during an opening scene of the musical coming to McNary on Jan. 19-21 and 26-28. More photos on Page 5. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Ashton Thomas, a senior, who made his musical debut in the McNary High School drama department as a freshman in Urinetown, isn’t ready to say goodbye to the Ken Collins Theater.

“It’s going to be hard to leave this behind because this has been such a cool place for me,” Thomas said. “It hasn’t really hit me yet, honestly. It’s going to be really weird transitioning into college life, most likely without theater stuff so I’m just trying to live in the moment and enjoy it while I can because this place is awesome.”

Thomas, who plays Gomez in The Addams Family musical, couldn’t think of a better way to go out.

“The show has a perfect blend of great music and then awesome comedy,” Thomas said.

But it’s the cast that makes the show special.

“I feel like I just know everyone in the cast this time and being able to just go up to anyone and high five or talk to them, it’s such a different environment than anything we’ve had before,” Thomas said.

“We’ve been with this show all semester too so it’s cool to see how everything is coming together and how it’s completely different from any other musicals I’ve done here and that’s what makes this show so special. The cast, crew, everybody that’s part of this show are the best people.”

The Addams Family debuted on Thursday, Jan. 19 and runs Jan. 20-21 and 26-28 at 7 p.m. Matinees are also scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 21 and Jan. 28 at 1:30 p.m.

Tickets, available at mcnaryhs.ticketleap.com, are $10 for adults and $7 for patrons under 13 and over 65.

The story centers around Wednesday Addams, her love for a normal boy, Lucas, and the meeting of the two vastly different families.

Two seniors who were previously love interests as sophomores in Legally Blonde, Emma Blanco and Ryan Cowan, play Wednesday and Lucas.

“I’m excited that this is the show that we’re closing everything up with,” Blanco said. “I’m definitely pulling a lot of inspiration from the movie, her dark personal. She has a very morbid sense about her.

“This musical is different because it’s when she falls in love and experiences happiness and things she’s never felt before. It’s definitely tricky trying to find that balance between the darkness and when she’s happy. That’s probably been the most challenging part of this experience so far. But it’s really fun. There’s lots of touching moments dispersed between these really funny, weird ones.”

Playing opposite Thomas as Morticia, Wednesday’s mom, is another McNary senior—Skyla Cawthon.

“It was kind of hard at first because she’s a super confident, strong woman,” Cawthon said. “I had to think though how she would think and how she would feel and even posture wise, how she walks. But I just enjoy how different it is than the other musicals and being able to play a character that I’ve never played before is a really nice experience.”

McNary Drama Director Dallas Myers said the musical is a showcase for the entire cast, which also includes Avery Smith as Pugsley, Josiah Henifin as Uncle Fester, Annie Purkey as Grandma, Matthew Albright as Lurch, Jacob Grimmer and Madi Zuro’s as Lucas’ parents Mal and Alice and an ensemble of 31 Addams family ancestors.

“Everyone of our kids that has a featured part in it is killer, is really killer and it fits them so well,” Myers said. “They’re (the characters) big and they cause kids to make huge choices.

“Ashton and Skyla are dynamic as Gomez and Morticia, more so than I even anticipated. They are on another level. This is a real feature for them. Emma as Wednesday is terrific but even Annie as the grandma character is one of my favorite things of all time. She’s just so good. Matthew has never been in a musical for us. Lurch is a fairly voiceless part but he grunts a lot and he’s doing terrific. I’m pretty thrilled with their performance. They are so ready.”

The cast has also kept Myers laughing.

“I’ve done a bunch of comedies and usually about two weeks left I stop laughing in rehearsals and with this one I continue to find new stuff and the cast has done such a great job of finding new things that I’m still laughing,” he said.

Myers has less students in his technical theatre class than usual but that hasn’t slowed them down.

“We built a giant house,” Myers said. “We had to build the Addams family house and we had to figure out what to do to rotate through all the sets and I think my technical kids have done a phenomenal job.”

McNary Choir Director Joshua Rist has assisted with vocals and Sean Williams is directing 18 students in the orchestra pit.

Tax vs. fee

KEIZERTIMES/Andrew Jackson

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Scott Klug, a member of the Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, initially balked at the idea of adding a fee to Keizer residents’ utility bill to support city parks.

He was most concerned about implementing a fee without asking residents whether they supported it first, but he also found fault in the term “fee.”

“You can call it a fee, but any time you ask someone to pay something they don’t want to pay, it’s a tax,” Klug said.

While that might be how it feels, there is precedent for what is deemed a tax vs. a fee. It’s also true that Oregon is one of only two states that haven’t adopted official definitions of the two.

“A tax has the primary purpose of raising revenue,” said Joseph Henchman, Tax Foundation vice president of legal projects, and author of a 2013 study looking at the issues surrounding fees and taxes. “By contrast, a fee recoups the cost of providing a service from a beneficiary.”

It’s also more than a difference of terminology. Many states include in their constitutions steps for enacting taxes and limitations on increases. Fees can be enacted more freely, which is one reason the city council can implement a dedicated parks fee without a vote of residents.

A fee is a charge imposed for the primary purpose of recouping costs incurred while providing a service to the payer. Taxes and fees are also different from a penalty, which has the primary purpose of punishing behavior.

Only Oregon and North Carolina, at the time of the study, hadn’t adopted legal definitions of the two. Moreover, Oregon is the only state without a rule to resolve any ambiguities in favor of the taxpayer.

It’s also a misconception that taxes are “mandatory” while fees are “voluntary.” Both need to be paid and government agencies can seek legal remedies to collect on balances.

All of this comes into play when discussing a potential fee to create a dedicated fund for Keizer parks. Because the city cannot raise property taxes – ballot measures passed in the 1990s locked in the rates – fees are one of essentially three options, and the only one that might ensure a degree of sustainability without creating additional costs.

If the revenues generated by the fee fell into the city’s general fund for the council to use for any purpose, it would be considered a hard-line tax.

However, because the revenue generated would become a dedicated parks fund it could be considered a “tax,” “user tax” or “fee” within the boundaries widely accepted. That squishiness is problematic in determining which term to use for the parks surcharge being discussed.

In his 2013 study, Henchman points out that “taxes fund general benefits to everyone while fees fund particularized benefits to the fee-payer.” By those measures, the proposed parks fee resembles a tax since it would be charged to all residents’ households on their utility bills – not just park users –  and the benefits of parks are felt throughout the city in terms of higher property values, reduced crime and 240 acres of public green spaces. At the same time, a fee designation is also appropriate since the funds would be used to recoup the costs of maintenance and improvements within the park system.

So, would the added charge be a fee or a tax? The answer may depend on how paying it makes you feel.

McNary crushes Olympians, Grizzlies

McNary junior Lucas Garvey scored seven points against Sprague on Saturday, Jan. 14.

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary looked more like the team coming off a night off than the one playing the second game of a back-to-back as the Celtics turned a one-point halftime deficit into a 75-55 victory over Sprague on Saturday, Jan. 14.

“I think we scored a lot more in transition in the second half,” said McNary senior Matthew Ismay, who had 17 points, five rebounds and eight assists in the win. “They got a little bit tired and we had a lot more good cuts and passes.”

The first half was back-and-forth. After an 11-11 tie at the end of the first quarter, the Celtics led 28-23 with two minutes remaining in the first half before Sprague closed the second quarter with six straight points.

But McNary quickly took control in the second half, opening the third quarter on an 11-2 run. By the end of the period, the Celtics led 51-41 as Adam Harvey knocked down a 3-pointer. McNary continued to pad its lead in the final quarter, outscoring the Olympians 24-14.

Wearing down Sprague, who didn’t play Friday because of snow in Forest Grove, was the Celtics plan all along.

“We knew in the final minutes we would out pace them so we tried to pick up the pace a little bit,” McNary head coach Ryan Kirch said. “We talked to our guys about just feeling comfortable getting up and down the floor because that’s what we do best.”

The Celtics also had to defend Sprague forward Teagan Quitoriano, a 6-7 junior who entered the contest averaging more than 32 points per game. McNary held him to 10.

“I thought we did a nice job defensively trying to take Teagan out of the game,” Kirch said. “We got him frustrated, got him tired, just like we wanted.”

Ismay, two-time Greater Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year, was tasked with guarding Teagan.

“He’s really strong,” Ismay said. “We try to keep him out of the paint because if he gets in the paint, it’s over. We just tried to make it as hard as possible on him.”

After holding Sprague to just 55 points and defeating McMinnville 65-44 on Friday, Jan. 13, Kirch was happy with the entire team’s play on defense.

“I’m really pleased with our team defense right now,” he said. “We’re working really, really hard. To hold a 6A basketball team into the 40s, that’s just the difference between us and some other teams. We can score it but to be able to play at the next level you have to really be able to defend.”

McNary had 27 assists against Sprague. Cade Goff finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Harvey had 16 points, six rebounds and three assists. Easton Neitzel added 14 points, three rebounds and four assists.

With 17 points, five rebounds and four assists, Harvey led the Celtics against McMinnville. Ismay had 14 points, three rebounds and five assists. Neitzel added 16 points.

“We’ve got such tough kids and I’m really so proud of them,” Kirch said. “Our team has really developed into what we’ve envisioned, which is a player-led team, not a coach-led team. We are such a veteran group that they can kind of pace themselves a little bit. They can hold each other accountable and I’ll ask them what they see and if they see certain things, I trust their judgment on the floor. We’ve grown. I’m really happy where we’re at so far.”

Playing as a team, Lady Celts defeat McMinnville, Sprague

McNary senior Sydney Hunter had 17 points and 10 rebounds Saturday against Sprague.

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary’s girls basketball team has found the key to success—playing together.

In a 52-44 win over McMinnville on Friday, Jan. 13, four different girls scored at least nine points and the Lady Celts dished out 11 assists.

The following night, in a 52-30 victory against Sprague, five girls scored at least seven points to go along with 15 assists.

“I just think the chemistry part, we’ve finally figured it out,” senior Sydney Hunter said. “We’re playing as a team. We’re finally playing as five, not just individuals and that’s helped us a lot. We’ll drive and we know that we’ll have somebody right by the basket to dish off and that’s definitely helped us.”

With the two wins, McNary improved to 4-2 in the Greater Valley Conference after opening league play 1-2.

“It was a big week for us,” MHS head coach Derick Handley said. “The biggest thing is we’re starting to trust each other a little bit more. We talked before the season started that we’re going to rely on a lot of girls that haven’t really been relied on in the past. I think they’re starting to understand their roles. I think they’re starting to get confidence and I also think that Kailey (Doutt) and Sydney, who have led us in scoring, are realizing that they don’t have to do it alone and that there’s more people that can help us out. It’s been much more balanced. Our scoring is becoming a lot more evenly distributed, which is the key to us being successful this year.”

Fast starts have also helped the Lady Celts, who led McMinnville 18-4 at the end of the first quarter. The Grizzlies got within three points of McNary in the fourth quarter but back-to-back 3s sealed the Lady Celts victory.

“They (McMinnville) made a couple of runs but I think it asserted a lot of energy for them to do it and we stay composed,” Handley said.

Hunter and Abigail Hawley each had 12 points to lead McNary. Doutt added 11 and Paige Downer finished with nine.

The Lady Celts then jumped out to a 23-0 lead against Sprague before the Lady Olympians made their first basket midway through the second quarter.

Sprague scored eight points in the period but McNary entered halftime with a commanding 29-8 lead.

“We put in a new pressure defense a couple weeks ago and it takes repetition and getting used to where you’re supposed to fall in different circumstances,” Handley said. “We stuck with it knowing that it was going to generate starts like that for us. The girls are just working really hard and I think they’re also realizing that you give yourself a little bit of a padding like that, it’s a little easier to play the next 30 minutes.”

The Lady Celts added to their lead in the third. McNary then emptied its bench in the fourth quarter.

Hunter finished with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Doutt and Anita Lao both had eight points. Hawley and Jaylene Montano each added seven.

McNary plays at South Salem (12-3, 5-0) on Tuesday, against McDonald’s All-American and University of Tennessee-bound Evina Westbrook. The game tips off at 6:45 p.m.

Mother charged in son's death

Amy Marie Robertson

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

A 12-year-old Keizer boy was found dead by Keizer police officers on Saturday, Jan. 14, and his mother is charged with aggravated murder.

Keizer Police Department officers were summoned to an apartment at 175 Garland Way North about 12:45 p.m. and found the Caden Berry unresponsive inside.

The victim’s mother, Amy Marie Robertson, 38, was also at the scene and was taken into custody.

After notifying the next of kin, Keizer police announced the name of the victim and suspect. Robertson is being held without bail at the Marion County Correctional Facility on a charge of aggravated murder.

Aggravated murder includes, but is not limited to, incidents of intentional homicide when the victim is under the age of 14.

An autopsy was scheduled Monday, Jan. 15. Robertson is scheduled to appear in Marion County Circuit Court Tuesday, Jan. 17.

Caden was a student at Claggett Creek Middle School where a crisis team planned to be on-hand when school resumed Tuesday, and would be available for as long as they were needed, said Rob Schoepper, Claggett principal.

“Caden was a great kid and hard worker in class.  He will be greatly missed by all our students and staff,” Schoepper said.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact KPD Det. Tim Lathrop at 503-390-3713, ext. 3481.

McNary goes 4-4 at Oregon Classic

Wrestling at 132 pounds, Sean Burrows went 6-2 in the Oregon Classic on Jan. 13-14. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary head wrestling coach Jason Ebbs saw progress at the Oregon Classic in Redmond as the Celtics won their final four dual matches.

After losing its first four matches to North Medford, Grants Pass, Baker and Crook County, McNary got a much-needed victory, 39-33, over Mazama on Friday, Jan. 13 to close out the first day of competition and carried that momentum to Saturday, where the Celtics were a perfect 3-0.

“We knew we’d have a hard time but the really cool thing was, despite the quality of those programs, we continued to put 20 to 30 points up on the board, every single match,” Ebbs said. “That’s a really good number for what we have. We were hanging in there and doing a good job.”

A freshman came up big in McNary’s first match of Day 2, a 42-30 victory against Summit, as Brian Buchholz got his first varsity win at 182 pounds by pinning Dylan Kaminski.

“Earlier in the dual, we lost a match that I didn’t think we were going to lose,” Ebbs said. “The dual was at risk and he came out with a big W and pinned his guy. He was fighting and he competed. He got off the bottom and turned it into a positive spot. That’s what we’re looking for.”

The Celtics topped Ashland 48-18 and South Medford 48-24 in their final two matches as Ebbs continued to see improvement.

“Our kids are starting to pay attention to the sport of wrestling and starting to use the lessons we teach,” Ebbs said.

“Instead of just going out there and flopping around and hoping to win, they’re actually using the techniques that we teach. It started paying off.”

Brayden Ebbs and Wyatt Kesler led McNary on both days of the tournament.

At 145 pounds, Ebbs went 8-0 with seven pins. His closet match, a 15-11 decision, came on Friday against Clay Keller of Baker.

“That guy’s a really good wrestler,” coach Ebbs said. “He (Brayden) got taken down, couldn’t earn his points on his feet. He started the match down 4-0 and by the time we started the third round, he was down 11-7 and ended up turning the guy twice to win by four. That was just a good time to get some hard nose work on the mat because for a moment in time he was flustered and managed to use what he’s good at and win the match.”

Kesler went 7-1 at 152 pounds with his only loss coming to Grant Leiphart of Summit in a match Kessler re-broke his nose and was then pinned.

“I didn’t take time to get my head back into the match before I wrestled again,” said Kesler, who was able to return and pin his final two opponents. “I just had to get my mind back focused.”

His proudest win came against Colton Burkhardt of Crook County, who Kesler pinned in the third round.

“I went in there a little bit timid because Crook County is good but I just went out there and wrestled my match,” he said.

Carlos Vincent and Sean Burrows each went 6-2 at 160 and 132 pounds for the Celtics. At 170 pounds, Isaiah Putnam finished 5-3.

“The most exciting piece to the whole puzzle was every single kid, even our young kids, by the time we got done on Saturday, every single kid had contributed positively to our team score at some point during the tournament,” coach Ebbs said. “Our young kids are getting wins and picking up teams points and that’s what I needed to see in January to make sure we’re going in the right direction.”

ONE TOUGH MOTHER

Natalie Dent gets instructions on her next challenge from “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. (Submitted)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Keizer native Natalie Dent’s journey to fitness began in an unusual place: receiving tickets to see The Nutcracker ballet.

“I was so blown away by how strong and powerful these ballerinas were. They weren’t just up there to look pretty, they were strong. I remember thinking ‘There is no reason that I can’t be that strong,’” she said.

Until that point, about eight years ago, Dent had tried the workouts she found in magazines, but they always left her feeling empty.

Dent heaves a barbell during a CrossFit competition. (Submitted)

“They were all just a cookie cutter formula made to sell magazines,” Dent said. “I think it was my inner athlete that was drawn to CrossFit. It was a new challenge and always changing. I loved that it’s you against you, and you can see measurable results very fast.”

She’s since become a Crossfit trainer and competes regularly in the circuit around her home in Oceanside, Calif., and in places farther flung.

Her travels recently landed the 33-year-old a spot on Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge. The former WWE champion and pro wrestler hosts the CMT show that pits fitness buffs against each other in a series of physical tests.

Dent’s particular challenges included a modified tug-of-war that saw her have to drag her opponent across a playing field, carrying increasingly heavy stone balls through a pool and, finally, flip increasingly heavy tires down a track before hoisting them over wooden posts.

“The whole (tug-of-war) fight was longer than what was aired on TV and, at one point, I felt like I was just pulling her for an eternity and not moving,” she said.

The first test made carrying the stones more taxing, but it was because she could still feel her legs “wrecked” from the first event.

Dent was eliminated just before making it to the final challenge, which would have included wrestling her opponent. She simply couldn’t leverage the last tire over the post.

Natalie Dent with her sons. (Submitted)

“My body just stopped working when I got to the third tire. It was the strangest thing and really frustrating because I knew I could take my opponent if I got to the (wrestling) pit – but it wasn’t meant to be,” Dent said.

She said the biggest difference between Broken Skull Challenge and other competitions she’s entered was the lack of a coach standing by to offer advice. Contestants were also given only a few minutes to strategize after learning what they will need to do to advance.

“Mentally, it was very different than anything I have ever done. Physically? The first challenge may have been the hardest thing I have ever done in competition … and that’s saying a lot,” she said.

While she didn’t have a personal coach on-hand, Dent said Austin himself made for an admirable stand-in.

“When the cameras weren’t rolling he was that calm reassuring voice saying to all of us, “You guys can do this,” and you really did feel like he was rooting for you,” she said.

Dent’s adventure alongside “Stone Cold” Steve Austin make her story attention-getting, but the path that led her to the show is just as noteworthy.

When her best friends were graduating from McNary High School, Dent was already the mother to 2-year-old twin boys, Isaac and Noah.

“I was raising them and married to a Marine who was deployed,” Dent said.

She’d gotten pregnant at 16 and two more sons, Eli and Joey, arrived before she put a new focus on her fitness.

“When I started working out I had four boys under 8 years of age. My youngest was 9 months old, so while I wouldn’t say that was an obstacle, it definitely wasn’t convenient,” she said. “I couldn’t workout at a gym, so we slowly collected bits and pieces of used equipment so I could do CrossFit on my own. I read a lot and watched a lot of videos to help me understand how to essentially be my own coach and properly move my body.”

The more she learned about CrossFit the more she enjoyed the challenges of whole-body workouts rather than focusing on one aspect each day. And her new routines changed not only her body, but her view of herself and what she could expect others to think of her.

“I experienced so many challenges early on that shaped how I viewed myself and how society viewed me. I was a high school dropout, a pregnant teen, a young mom. There is such a huge stigma that goes along with that and I guess I needed to break down some barriers within myself and in society. I didn’t want that to define me anymore,” Dent said. “I began this journey into CrossFit while my boys were young and impressionable. Now, I see them pushing themselves in everything they do. I would like to think that by watching me train and being by my side at competitions that they’ve absorbed lessons that I didn’t fully realize I was teaching them.”