Collegiate athlete Darcy Leslie felt lost after she graduated from college. Her answer was a women’s tackle football league— a sport she hadn’t thought about since she was 12 years old.
Leslie went on to have an impressive 8-year career on the Chicago Force women’s tackle football team and was retired up until recently, when she had the opportunity to join the 2022 US Women’s National Football Team. Leslie credits CrossFit for keeping her in shape during that five year gap and she went on to win the Gold Medal with her team.
She is the owner of Hardware Strength & Conditioning and is currently playing for a semi-pro women’s football team named the Boston Renegades. She manages to commute to Boston for games and practices, run her gym, and be present for her family. A feat not possible without a strong community, said Leslie.
“I’m just grateful for my affiliate, my community. Going to the national team was costly and my affiliate, my members supported me,” said Leslie. “Every time I have a game I have members that come to Boston to watch me play, which is pretty cool.”
“I’m just grateful for all their support and all that they’ve done for me and my family in my wild endeavors.”
“Honestly I feel like the reason why I was able to step away from the sport for five years and then come back and still make the team not playing was because of CrossFit. Because I have stayed in shape.”
“I’ve committed to CrossFit as my next journey after football. So it allowed me to still be in the physical prime shape that I needed to be to try for the national team and because of that I was able to make it even after being out for five years.”
Leslie started CrossFit in 2013 as a way to stay in shape during her off season from football. She found Hardware Strength & Conditioning in 2016 and fell in love with the sport even more, even being asked by the owner at the time if she wanted to coach (to which she said yes). After considering opening her own affiliate an opportunity to buy Hardware came about and in June 2021 it became Leslie’s.
“It’s like a family. I’ve noticed my members always introduce themselves to a new person,” said Leslie. “ I feel like that’s one of the main things I rave about Hardware, just our community. Everyone has been that new person before and they make sure that all our new members feel comfortable, welcome, safe in this space and it’s just fantastic to see.”
Leslie says one of the best parts of being back on the field is having her two sons being able to watch her play.
“It’s fun because my sons they’ve never seen me play football before and now they’re able to watch me. And I think that’s the most exciting part of it all, just showing them that Mommy got this. And I just like introducing them to fitness and different kinds of fitness.”
While her list of accolades continues to grow, Leslie says she is likely to retire again if she makes the national team in three years. Right now, she’s taking it one year at a time.
“It’s a little tough for me to be here [at the gym] and still trying to make sure I know what I’m doing so I can perform at my best when I go to Boston. But it’s working.
“The team doesn’t typically allow members to be remote, but “They’ve taken kind of a risk on me and I think it’s paying off because I did pretty well the last couple games.”
“The Boston Renegades have been very generous to me and my family and they’ve taken good care of us,” said Leslie. “It’s been fun to explore a different city with the kids and my wife. And I hope my body can stay healthy and be able to make the national team one more time and then I am done.”