#119: Building A CrossFit Dream Team – Franco’s Misfits Shaylin Laure, Alexis Johnson, Brandon Luckett, Logan Collins (CrossFit Games 2023)

Tuesday September 26, 2023

Would you cough up blood for your team? Would you die on the competition floor for them so you never let them down. Do you have the courage to train just as hard as you compete when you’re doing it for others, not just yourself? That’s the difference between individual and team competition at CrossFit Games. 

Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff sit down with CrossFit Francos Misfits to prove that love, teamwork, and unwavering dedication can create an unstoppable team. Shaylin Laure, Alexis Johnson, Brandon Luckett, and Logan Collins share their remarkable journeys from individual competitors to an unstoppable team, revealing their formula for training and communication. 

They also discuss the art of selflessness, knowing when to step back for the greater good of the team and when it’s their own turn to step up and take more of the load.  Don’t miss it live from the US Army Fitness Truck at NOBULL CrossFit Games 2023

Read the full episode transcription here and learn more on The Jedburgh Podcast Website. Subscribe to us and follow @jedburghpodcast on all social media. Watch the full video version on YouTube.

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Building A CrossFit Dream Team – Franco’s Misfits Shaylin Laure, Alexis Johnson, Brandon Luckett, Logan Collins (CrossFit Games 2023)

CrossFit Franco’s Misfits, welcome to the Jedburgh Podcast.

Thank you.CrossFit Franco's Misfits on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

Thank you.

Thank you.

We’re live from CrossFit Games. It’s day 2 officially but day 0 for you guys. We had the opening ceremonies. The flyover went by. Everyone’s got to get their head right. We’re going to get you out of here in a quick amount of time because we know you have so much to do over the next eighteen hours or so before you hit it. It’s going to be some grueling next few days.

We had the chance to sit down with Shaylin back in January 2023 in Miami at Wodapalooza. It was one of the great conversations that we’ve had on the show in the 150 episodes or so that we’ve done. We talked so much about her performance, her career in the Army, and transitioning into her current job. How do you take all that and become a professional athlete and do it at a high level?

We were really fortunate in that discussion where she announced on our show that she would be competing as a team in the CrossFit games. Jessie and I looked at each other and were like, “There’s the follow-up right there,” even though we didn’t know if we were going to come to CrossFit Games because we didn’t even think about it then. That’s what we wanted to do, so that’s where we’re at. We’ve come full circle. We’re here at the games. The team has come together. Talk for a second since we last sat down, told your story, and you made that announcement. How did the team come together, and how did you end up with Logan, Alexis, and Brandon?

CrossFit Franco's Misfits on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

We all met through CrossFit, whether it was at a gym or at a competition. Alexis is our fearless leader. She brought us all together. She formed the team. I met her competing against her at a few different competitions, but we jive together. Our personalities go well. She’s been best friends with Brandon for a couple of years. They met at a CrossFit gym. Brandon has competed against Logan at the games before. We’re competing against each other and some competing with each other for those two. Now we’re one big happy family.

Where did the name Franco’s Misfits come from?

CrossFit Franco’s is the gym that Brandon goes to. The owner has been super supportive of us all season. We did the open there and the quarterfinals there. We all lived in different states when we started the season. We all traveled to New Orleans and did that at Franco’s. For Misfits, we are both Misfit athletes. Brandon used to be a Misfit athlete. They do our programming and our coach is from Misfit Athletics.

It all starts with a name. In every team-building event, usually, they’re all cheesy. They’re like, “Get together and make a T-shirt. What’s your team name?” We had to get that out of the way right up front to come together. You put the team together as you looked and thought, “What do I want on my team?”

One of the things we talk about so much on the show is the characteristics that it takes to build elite performance, whether that’s as an individual or as a team. Nine are used by Special Operations. We’ve used them for decades. The Jedburgh’s of World War II is how we recruit, assess, and develop talent. We use this series of nine. What’d you want in your team? 

I have no idea what nine you use, but I can tell you what I use.

I am going to throw them out later to you. 

The top two were both athletic performance and attitude. I wanted a team that was going to be fun to compete with, that had confidence, and that was willing to lay it all out there not just as an individual but also for someone else to be able to look around and say, “I don’t want to push, but look at these three people around me. I care so much about them.”

CrossFit Franco's Misfits on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

More than that, I wanted to have fun. Winning is fun too. It’s not just their attitude, but I look around and these people have the biggest hearts. We care about each other. We want each other to have a good time, to feel like they’re cared for, but also feel like someone else is going to die on the floor for them and they have enough athletic talent to die on the floor for you.

Brandon, three times in the games?CrossFit Franco's Misfits on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff


Is this 4 or 3?

This will be number four. It is our first time as a team.

Why join a team this time versus being an individual?

I competed in 2018 for the first time as an individual while I was in grad school doing research, studying for boards, and applying to residencies.

It’s not doing too much during the day. You have extra time on your hands.

Having all those things on my plate burnt me out. In 2019, I took a year off. Towards the end of 2019, I was like, “I’m done competing. I’ll move on.” I did it one time. It was the goal. I’m good with calling it quits. I kept training. In September 2019, Alexis texted me. She was like, “Let’s do a team.” I was like, “Okay. I’m settled into residency. I can make that work.”

I did the open and finished thirteenth in the world in the open. We qualified as a team in Argentina, and then COVID happened. Teams didn’t happen, but because of my placing in the open, I was able to compete in the individual side of competition on the online games. I competed in ‘21 again and qualified. After that, I moved home to work with my father, a medical physicist. That is why I was in school for so long. Whenever I moved home, I would be like, “Competing would be too much added onto my plate. It’s time for me to move on and focus on work.” Again, Alexis texted me and was like, “Let’s go, team.” I was like, “Why not one more time?” She’s like, “It’s my last year.” I was like, “If it’s the last year, we can make it happen.” Alexis has pulled me out of retirement twice now.

There wasn’t a lot of convincing that had to take place.

How is the training different for a team, and how are the events different?

You don’t get to think about yourself. Competing as an individual is a very prideful and selfish sport. Whenever you add in three other individuals that you want to die for, it becomes that if you need to take more of the load for the team and you have to do that, then you have to step up. All four of us are certainly willing to do that.

CrossFit Franco's Misfits on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

The training isn’t that much different for any of us. We all train as if we were individual athletes. The mindset is much different in that you have to be responsible for your teammates and not just for yourself. It’s like a family. If you’re partying on the weekends, it doesn’t affect you, but it also affects the other three and your performance.

On the flip side of that, the individual is prideful. The team is exciting because you get to share all of that excitement with everybody else. It’s not all about individual performance. You get so excited about your teammate’s performance whenever they step up and do something incredible. It’s not self-centered like, “I’m proud of how I did.” It’s, “I’m so proud and excited for how the other three did.” It’s a completely different mindset shift.

Logan, talk about the training. You guys are all in different locations. In some ways, it is easier to train when you’re all co-located because you can look at the other person and say, “We’re going to do this today. We’re all going to the mat together.” You’ve got to do that separated by time and space. How did you guys come up with a training plan that was going to keep you and develop you as a cohesive unit but do that while you were separated?

With us having the individual backgrounds, all four of us do, it was a little easier to be separated and be able to attack those things. The times that we were able to get together, it was a lot of exposure to what you were good at and what you’re not good at. It’s pretty easy. I feel like for us, maybe, it is a personality trait to take back home and hammer them so you’re not letting other people down. That was my take. The first couple of times we met, the worm as a team would beat me in the dirt, and it still does. It is trying to figure out different ways to have progressions to the worm by yourself and other things like that. That was it for me. I’m speaking for myself.

The worm is the giant sandbag that you all move together, right?CrossFit Franco's Misfits on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff


Are there a lot of events that require teamwork together that would be hard to train on your own?

Almost all of them require some sort of teamwork. Some of them are individual events. For my final test three, we each did something on the floor by ourselves, and then it was a combination of all of our times. There was very little strategy and teamwork. Other than that, most of them have some teamwork aspect, whether it’s moving and implementing together or a synchro movement where you have to all do it at the exact same time, or even a strategy aspect of, “This person is going to be able to push harder here. I can push harder there. How do we split the reps up?”

I’m going to be biased here for a second. I can be sitting here in front of the Army truck. The Army brought back be all you can be. When we talk about be all you can be, we’re talking about how we look at ourselves and say, “I want to be the best version of myself.” That might be different for every person. That’s important when we talk about individuals.

What I’ll also tell you is that the Army, especially in Special Operations, is built on shared suffering. CrossFit is built on shared suffering. The community aspect that comes from doing something shitty next to somebody else and then being able to look at them and say, “That sucked. I may not have even known you a few minutes ago, but tomorrow, I’ll take that bullet for you all day long.” Logan, you mentioned that you started integrating some of these hard workouts. Talk about that evolution and how you have come together as a cohesive unit from day one when you got the call from Alexis and said, “I want to do this,” to being here ready to go into the gong.

We talked about it. Each of us is willing to die for the team. Early on, we established that desire and that willingness for each other. It wasn’t just a team. It was a family. We made that distinction early on. We might argue or bicker with each other, but when it comes to go time and competing, we are willing to take a metaphorical bullet for each other. I’m willing to cough up blood on the competition floor for the other three and all three of them are willing to do that for me. You put your own pain aside. It’s easy to want to ease off the pedal when it’s hurting for yourself, but when you take responsibility for the rest and your responsibility to them, you’re willing to hurt that much more.

CrossFit Franco's Misfits on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

The hardest part, which might come as a surprise to some, is we each want to take more load from the team. We desire to do more. Almost the hardest part is when you feel like someone might be better at something than you. It is like, “I need to step back and let them do more because that’s going to be, in the end, the better thing for the team.” We’re like, “I feel like I can do it for the team.” The hardest thing is stepping back and saying, “Our whole team will be better if you do it,” and I sit back.

Have you seen your individual numbers go up since you started training with that team mentality?

CrossFit Franco's Misfits on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

I’m the least fit on the team, and that’s okay. Alexis moved to Raleigh so we could train together. I get my ass kicked every day and it has forced me to get more fit.

Let’s talk about that for a second. I’m going to bring it up because it is important. You guys might know but Shaylin took a lot of heat on social media after our interview with her. Normally, I try to stay somewhere in the middle on these things. It’s one of the few times where we had a guest on where I intervened in the conversation and was like, “Everyone, shut the fuck up. I’ve had enough.”

You’re not going to go toe to toe with her. I don’t care who you think you are. All you haters out there who don’t think that women can make it in the infantry, the Army, or the law enforcement, in the games, it doesn’t matter. Jessie and I talk about this a lot because she competes against males all the time and beats the shit out of them too. When you think about this concept of the integrated team, how do you guys think about that? How do you approach that? How has that brought you together so that you have each other?

There were some workouts in the semi-finals where females were the limiters. The guys are always willing to step up and take that burden, and tomorrow, in one of those events, they’re going to have to do more work than us because it makes sense. As Alexis said, the hardest part is us letting them. We want to pull our own weight but sometimes, for the team, it’s best if we let them do what they’re best at.

It’s a humility thing maybe. We are fit. We know we’re fit. We know we’re capable, but we also believe in them and we know that they’re going to do it faster. That’s okay. It doesn’t make us less fit. It doesn’t take anything away from us. It adds to the team. It’s the same thing with the Army. You have one guy who’s going to be better at carrying the extra ammo because he’s a bigger frame and he can carry that weight. That doesn’t mean the little guy is less fit. It means he’s your runner for your emergency plan as your contingency. It’s a different role. If everyone had the same role, it would never work, so we all have different roles.

CrossFit Franco's Misfits on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

We talk about that in building teams. One of the most important parts of building teams is identifying the strengths and weaknesses and then putting people in positions. The definition of a leader, there are a lot of them, but one of them is how do you empower your subordinates and those around you to contribute to the mission. Part of that is identifying what they’re good at and what they’re not, and then bringing the resources and putting them in positions to be successful. That’s what we want to do. That’s what you guys are looking at doing. Since you brought it up, let’s put you on the spot for a minute. I’m going to ask you who is the best at a couple of different things. Who’s the best gymnast? 

[bctt tweet=”One of the most important parts of building teams is identifying strengths and weaknesses and then putting people in positions and definition of a leader.” username=”talentwargroup”]

They’re all really good, not me. Maybe Logan, but they’re both good, too.

Logan is the best gymnast.

She’s really good too.

Alexis is very good.

Not me.CrossFit Franco's Misfits on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

Who’s the best on the Olympic lifts?

Maybe me.

Who’s got the best aerobic cardiovascular capability?


You guys have the 5K, right?


Are you looking forward to the 5K?

Yes, but we have to hold a rope.

I am looking forward to it.

It’s going to be easy for him. He’s going to go for a jog. He’s going to pull me.

The beauty of CrossFit is that you never do the same thing twice. We’re going to talk with the Director of Sports Operations, Heather Lawrence, who’s responsible for a lot of what you’re going to endure and conquer. Conversations with her to this point, we’ve talked about almost from a production side that they go through all this effort to put these things out and then they never do it again. There’s a pretty cool aspect to that. What are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to the obstacles of every day, whatever that is. I don’t think the beauty is in the finish line. The beauty is in the journey of overcoming the tasks, the events, working through things together, and the pain. All of that is what comprises the artwork of the entire weekend.

[bctt tweet=”The beauty of CrossFit is not in the finish line. The beauty is in the journey, overcoming those, the tasks, the events, and working through things together.” username=”talentwargroup”]

For me, three-quarters of the fun part is already over. I enjoy the whole process. I enjoyed getting together with them to train every weekend. I enjoyed feeling like I was pushing myself when I was by myself for them. That’s half the beauty of it. It’s awesome to come out here and show everyone what we’ve worked on, but if you’re only focused on the end goal and that’s the only thing that you want, that’s never going to get you as far as if you enjoy the entire process of getting there.

CrossFit Franco's Misfits on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

How did you come to that level of realization? Is it something you always inherently knew or had to teach yourself?

I started CrossFit because I wanted to be in the gym every day, not having any goal of being at the CrossFit Games. The only reason I beat Shaylin in the gym sometimes is because I train as hard as I compete. That’s who I am. I love training. I’ve always had that in me. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

CrossFit great Josh Bridges, you probably know him. I interviewed him a couple of years ago. He said that you’ve got to love the process. In that process, you don’t train until you get it right. You train until you can’t get it wrong. If you think about that for a second, there’s a huge difference between the moment when you do that perfect rep and you’re like, “I nailed it,” and the people who walk away from the bar and move on to something else. The person looks at that bar and goes, “Now I have to do 1,000 more like that to be able to compete at the level that I wanted.”

Where you guys are, where Jessie is, where so many want to be, and my time in Special Operations, it’s not about getting from the 99% to the top 2%. It’s about closing the gap of that last 2% to the top of the podium. That is the mindset that’s going to get you there. When you execute that with precision day in and day out, you love the process. You get out there and the results speak for themselves. I have one more question for you. It’s a test question. I’ve never done it in a group before, so we got to see how it works.

Is this going to be the same question?CrossFit Franco's Misfits on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff


Can I ask you a test question? What’s my last name?

Mathlete Johnson.

I saw it on his sheet.

I don’t know why I have that on there. That’s what your Instagram says.

That’s my Instagram handle. I wondered if there are people who think it’s my last name. It’s not my last name. I like Math. I was curious. You’re going to test me, so if I’m wrong, I have to make you wrong first.

I like it. I’m not even going to edit that out. I’m going to leave that in there. I have the ultimate authority. I’m going to leave it in there.

I look like a dick.CrossFit Franco's Misfits on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

That’s all right. I’m used to it. Are you ready for the test question? I asked you this last time.The Jedburghs of World War II had to do three things every day to be successful. They had to be able to shoot, move, and communicate. If they did those three things with the utmost precision, then they could focus their attention on more challenging tasks that came their way. That’s primarily conducting sabotage and subversion operations against the German Army to prevent them from reaching the beaches of Normandy. What are the three things that you as a team do every day to set the conditions for success?

I’ll do one. One of them would be that we all love what we’re doing. When you love what you’re doing, it’s no longer a chore. For some people, it is them going to the gym and working out as a chore. For us, we all look forward to it. It’s one of our favorite parts of the day.

[bctt tweet=”When you love what you’re doing, it’s no longer a chore.” username=”talentwargroup”]

A few things that we have to do to be able to perform well as a team is, one, we have to work on our own skills. It’s like shooting. Shooting is an individual skill. We all work on our own skills, our own lifting, our own gymnastics, and our own conditioning. At the same time, we have to know how to communicate well, whether it’s on the floor as friends or as teammates. Throughout the year, we have to be able to communicate. Knowing how to put each of us in the right part of the machine to make the best machine and make it move the best is another one of those components. It is understanding each other and knowing where to fit us into which cog and where to put it to make us the most well-functioning unit.

Here’s what I got. Love what you’re doing, communicate, and put people in the right roles. I appreciate you taking the time to sit down with Jessie and me. We have very much looked forward to this a long time since January 2023 and Shaylin told us about it. We’ve watched you through Instagram. You’re lucky you have to compete because normally, we would challenge you to a workout or something. I don’t care if I lose. I’ll still give it everything I have. 

No offense, but I put my money on her.CrossFit Franco's Misfits on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

I’ll put my money on her, but I’ll still do it.

I know you will.

It’s going to be a great event. You put in the work. The tagline of the show is, “How you prepare today determines success tomorrow.” We’ve seen it over the last several months as you’ve put in the work. It’s time to execute and you can execute free. I know you will. We wish you the best. Good luck out there. We’ll be watching.

Thank you.

Thank you.


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