Kirsten Therrien – Utility player for the Palm Beach Breakers
What is a brief overview of your origin story. Where you grew up, early family situation, athletic background, school, early jobs, travel, etc?
I grew up in Connecticut, I am the oldest of three sisters. I begged my parents for dance lessons, but it turns out I wasn’t (and still am not) very good at dancing. My middle school and high school required participation in sports, so I had opportunities to try a variety of different sports. In high school, I played field hockey, ice hockey, and was a coxswain on the rowing team. I was recruited to be a coxswain for college rowing, I ended up choosing to go D3 at Mount Holyoke College for the balance of strong academics and athletics. I earned my Bachelors in Psychology, then went on to UMASS Amherst for grad school full-time to earn my MBA. I worked in Healthcare Administration for a while after graduation before transitioning to the fire service full-time.
My involvement in the fire service, however, started when I was young. My dad is a volunteer firefighter back home, so I have always had some sort of connection to the job. When I was in college, I got my EMT certification and got involved with the local fire department.
I worked there part-time throughout undergrad and grad school, and even during my full-time employment after grad school. I discovered that my passion was in the fire service and not in a cubicle, so after a very long process, I am grateful to be where I am at today.
What is your current occupation, family situation, and focus in life?
I am a Lieutenant on the Chicopee Fire Department here in Massachusetts. I also work part-time at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy, where I am fortunate to help train the future of the fire service.
Fitness is obviously a huge part of my life as well. I am a L1 CrossFit trainer at SVG Athletics in South Hadley, MA.
I have a house in a very rural area with my boyfriend and our three dogs. We also keep chickens, too!
My focus in life is my family (including dogs), then my career, and then fitness is a very close third. If only fitness paid the bills! But seriously, the fire service not just a job, it is a second family.
What is something interesting that people would like to know about you?:
I don’t know… Being a dog mom is just my absolute favorite thing. My friend and I always talk about how if we won the lottery, we would open up a dog sanctuary and rescue so many dogs and give them the amazing lives they deserve.
Our oldest dog, Ellie, is boxer/lab/hound mix. She is an absolute angel. She came with my boyfriend six years ago, and he will tell you that he is convinced that Ellie is the only reason I asked him out. Ellie is such a mommy’s girl. My boyfriend surprised me with out second dog, Beca, for my birthday a few years ago. She is a lab/rottie mix and is the sweetest meathead you will ever meet. She was kind of meant to be “my” dog so my boyfriend could have Ellie back, but Beca is such a daddy’s girl! We rescued Taco about a year ago, and he is a bull terrier mix, and a TRIPOD! He was found in Texas with a broken femur, untreated so long that he had a hasty bone infection and the vet had to amputate. He was also shot with a pellet gun and still had pellets in his side, and he had a large abscess on his head. He has been through so much, but he is the sweetest, silliest little dude.
Describe the biggest hurdle or challenge you have overcome in your life.:
One of the biggest challenges I have overcome is my relationship with food.
Being a coxswain on the rowing team helped build my confidence in my ability to connect, lead and assertively make decisions. However, being a coxswain who was not naturally at the “ideal” coxswain weight put a very heavy (no pun intended) toll on my body image and relationship with food. I would engage in very dangerous cuts to drop my weight, not able to see that so many other things had a larger impact on our success than any pounds I was able to drop.
When I was primarily running, I was not nearly as restrictive with my food, but my diet was certainly less than healthy.
I wasn’t until I became focused in on my CrossFit training that I learned the overdue lesson that food is fuel. I tracked macros on-and-off for years, and I finally started working 1-on-1 with a nutrition coach (Shout out to Casey from M2 Performance Nutrition!) to align my nutrition, sleep, and habits with my goals.
How do you prepare to play on the GRID and other forms of competition. How do you think about nutrition, training, and other factors that contribute to your readiness?:
Being consistent with my training and nutrition has the biggest impact. I believe that it is the day-to-day decisions I make that build up a solid foundation so I am prepared when opportunity comes. I do what I can to limit processed foods, but I’m pretty good about sticking to my macros – most of the time! For me, perfection is not sustainable, but consistent balanced decisions are. I allow myself some “fun” foods and drinks, but I don’t let that derail me. I get back on track the very next day.
My Whoop has been huge in giving me a reality check about my sleep and the effects that alcohol has on performance and recovery. I prioritize sleep much more than I used to. Alcohol definitely plays a role in many off-duty gatherings with guys I work with – it is easy to meet up for a beer, or unwind after tough calls over some beers with the guys. I have become much better about drinks not being so regular in my life, and just saving them for special occasions or moments with friends and family.
As far as training goes, I love pushing myself to see what my body can do, but learning about adequate rest and recovery is definitely an ongoing process.
Describe what is it like to play on your team?:
Since I travel down from Massachusetts to play GRID, it definitely takes some planning! I absolutely love playing with athletes of so many different strengths. Being a utility player, I am okay at several things, but not the expert in any one of them. I love playing with athletes who have achieved so much through hard work and dedication – they inspire me to work even harder and I love it.
How did you get involved in GRID? Did you come through the American Grid Trials? Tell us the story!:
A few local coaches saw the Grid Trials in 2021 and forwarded those posts to me. I figured I’d sign up and give it a shot. I did pretty well in some of the tests, and ended up signing with the Palm Beach Breakers!
This experience reinforced that you never really know what you can do unless you put yourself out there and take chances.
Watch Kirsten take on the Fort Lauderdale Lions
What is important for people to know about the sport of GRID? How does it compare to your other forms of competition?
GRID is amazing because it encompasses team diversity in every sense of the word – there is a role for every player. The player who can do all the “crazy gymnastics movements” (as I often reference them) likely can’t put up the biggest numbers on the barbell, and vice versa, but the scoring and strategy reflects the importance of having a team with diverse abilities. Not to mention the fact that men and women play alongside each other, and both have equally important roles on the team.