Catching Up with the Malecha’s

This month we are sharing a member profile story about the Malecha’s!  Brian, Lisa, William and Emma. YES! They are all into CrossFit. 

When I initially asked Brian if they would be interested in me highlighting them for our member spotlight, I was met with “SURE!” Lisa was a little more skeptical! Eventually, they both agreed but not without a little challenge thrown back at me.  

You see, they are pretty avid “hydrofoil board” riders!  So they agreed to a story, if I agreed to give the hydrofoil a go! It did not go so well!

The Malecha’s picked me up dockside on Medicine Lake, and I was greeted with big smiles, as if they knew what was about to happen! It was a beautiful Friday afternoon, and it felt great to be outside and on a boat. It quickly became apparent to me that Lisa is an oak tree while Brian is the willow, the one that flows. Like every couple, they are both different, but when it comes to raising their children, it was clear that they are in lock step with their parenting and are focused on raising healthy, respectable children. I am always fascinated by what people’s childhood is like and what decisions they have made to get to where they are; it’s really interesting.

Peeling back the onion, as they say, Brian grew up in a small town in southern Minnesota called Lonsdale, a suburb of New Prague. New Prague is south of the Twin Cities, and it’s rich with Bavarian culture. When I asked Brian, “was your childhood more like Leave It To Beaver or Shameless”, he said it was more like Leave It To Beaver – no real drama, though his parents divorced when he was in 11th grade. In Brian’s words, “they simply grew apart”.  

He was the youngest, and his older sister had moved out a couple years earlier. Having gone through a very similar situation, I can really relate as my parents divorced a couple weeks after I graduated high school. It’s a lonely place to be in.

Like in most small towns, kids play all sports all year round. Brian played them all, including hockey. But what tapped Brian’s passion was computers. His mom bought a “family” computer that basically became his, and it ignited his passion for IT. He eventually landed at U of M Duluth, earning a degree in Computer Science. Brian came from humble beginnings where there were no free rides. He had to find a way to fund college and support himself, which he did through an ROTC program.  

Lisa, on the other hand, was raised in a military family. Her grandfather, father, and uncles all served. Her brother attended West Point, the most prestigious war college in the USA, and he encouraged Lisa to follow in his footsteps.  She earned a degree in Comparative Politics with a Nuclear Engineering minor. In the years since, Lisa’s cousin and nephew have also attended West Point, continuing the long history of service in the family.  

Leading up to college, Lisa lived in 6 different locations. She was in Germany the longest, living there for a total of 11.5 years across three different durations. In total, she has lived in 10 different cities! When she was a kid, having just returned from living in Germany, she couldn’t believe that she could travel across state lines without needing a passport. She has now lived in Minnesota the longest of any location, residing here for 12 years. When I asked where she considers home, she answered, “wherever my parents are” which is Arkansas, though she has never lived there.   

Amongst all the moving around, Lisa excelled at swimming. She spent most of her time as a competitive swimmer, and she is certainly competitive! Lisa excels at everything she does.

Her military career after Westpoint led her to Kosovo where she was deployed as an Engineer Officer while Brian was assigned to the same unit as a Signal Officer (IT Manager). Two people from different worlds collided when they both were deployed to Kosovo.

When I asked who made the first move on the other, Brian basically said, “I did”! They had met in Kosovo, but sparks started to fly when they were skiing in Austria. Lisa had been flirting with an Austrian ski instructor, signaling to Brian that he needed to make his move, which he did and the rest is history. Lisa just smiled during this part of the story, verifying it’s truth by not denying it!

Both Brian and Lisa have incredible backgrounds in military and civilian life. Brian is a manager at Medtronic as well as Lt. Col. battalion commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 34th Infantry Division and is currently working on an Army sponsored Master’s program. That’s a lot!!!

Lisa also worked at Medtronic, and recently left there to retire, she is only in her mid 40s! It’s no surprise that she quickly became bored and needed a new challenge, so she now runs her own company working as a consultant to companies in need of supply chain management and logistics.  

Brian and Lisa exude quiet strength, humility and calm resolve. They both are exemplary people with a solid foundation of purpose and values. I really enjoyed my afternoon with them. 

We switched gears after a couple of hours and got busy with the hydrofoil. Lisa went first, jumping in the water. She did not even get her hair wet! She got up on the hydrofoil and surfed without crashing, making it look SO easy.  

Then I was next. YIKES. Brian whipped out some tools, adjusting the foils that hang down about 2.5 feet under the board, then into the water I went! I got up several times but could not make it more than 50 yards without a crash!  It’s the most difficult sport of its type that I have ever tried. It’s basically surfing.

Then their son Will showed up! Will is 14 years old, and I’d say a typical boy. A lacrosse player, he is highly skilled and athletic. Watching him on the hydrofoil, though, I think he has a solid fall back option! He surfed behind the boat without a rope pulling him, just surfing the wave. I watched as he dropped the rope, surfed, then later went back and picked it up!  Respect!  

As we started to wrap up, the conversation shifted to CrossFit, specifically SISU. As a side note, I always send out SISU’s Purpose Statement and Core Values prior to meeting with them. Brian and Will are definitely more into CrossFit than Lisa. They have been there longer, at least. So when I asked the question to them both, “how has SISU empowered or transformed your life?” to my surprise, Lisa was first to answer. She said their daughter Emma, 12, likes to read and paint, so doing CrossFit has helped get her moving and active. She said Emma makes it a point to plan her activities around our Summer Athlete Program schedule. CrossFit and SISU are a priority for Emma, which makes both Brian and Lisa really happy. Coincidently, I met Emma in the gym a few days after going on the boat.  She is by far the most mature 12 year old I have met! She radiated with confidence and was all smiles.

Lisa continued to share how Will has fallen in love with CrossFit also. She said it’s awesome to see Will and Brian share something in common that they both love and can do together. Will is a pretty tough 14 year old, so I imagine he is chirping Brian about beating him in workouts all the time!

The Malecha’s stepped out of their comfort zones by joining SISU as they are endurance people in general. What they have discovered is fitness and community unlike anything they have experienced before. Most importantly, they recognize the positive impact that SISU has had on their family, and that is what is most important.

Many thanks to the Malecha’s for opening up about family and life! I appreciate the time you spent with me! And thanks for pushing me outside of my comfort zone – personally, I don’t like water (Jaws scared me as a kid!), and I don’t like doing things I am not good at!

Until next time…

Pat Crosby

“Nothing changes if nothing changes”