Memorial Post for Tripp Zanetis

The first time I met Tripp at CFNYC he made a big impression on me: firefighter, aspiring military pilot, phenomenal athlete, and a kind human with a brilliant mind. I had just been commissioned in the Marine Corps and probably teased him about joining a softer service before the workout started. I remember him turning on the jets in a workout with the rower and blowing me out of the water. Afterwards we went out for barbecue and bonded over our shared passions for cooking, and talked out how the events of 9/11 changed the course of our adult lives.

We had infrequent workouts together until we parted ways and he headed to Enid, OK and I went down to Camp Lejeune, NC. We kept in touch over the years, and last I heard from him he was knocking it out of the park at Stanford Law school on a leave of absence from the FDNY. Tripp was a restless genius at his core and I don’t think he would’ve stopped improving things until he had fixed all the world’s problems, he was just that driven.

We hadn’t run into each other in a long time, but were in Afghanistan at the same time in 2012. Word of his team’s incredible bravery flying armed dustoff helicopters had filtered all the way down to the Marines on the ground and of course I recognized his name in the NY Post article. My Marines and I knew that with men and women like Tripp standing ready to swoop down and save our necks that we would have a decent chance of surviving anything we got into. Knowing that there were killer angels on our shoulders inspired Marines and Soldiers alike to fight like the devil; Tripp’s battlefield impact went far beyond the things he could touch and see.

It was immediately clear to anyone that encountered him that Tripp was special; magnetic, magnanimous, and with a sparkle in his eyes. He was a born leader, exactly the kind our military needed, and he must’ve been beloved by those he worked with. I didn’t know Tripp as well as some of you, but he was my friend and a brother in arms. To his family and friends I share in your grief for all the unfulfilled tomorrows and I will miss Tripp sorely. I am struck by how much he accomplished in such a short time, but also how much more good he could’ve done in the world with more time.

The world is a darker place without his light, but we owe it to him to carry forth the ideals of knowledge, integrity and compassion that he embodied in all his days.

Fair winds and following seas my friend. We have the watch.

Semper Fidelis,

-Captain Gabe Sganga, USMC (Ret) and former CFNYC member

“What’s your name? It’s what!?” I chuckled and said what a weird name. He laughed and took my ribbing in stride. I first met Tripp at NYU. We were involved in student government and after I graduated we didn’t keep in touch. Years later, I ran into him at the NYU gym. I was plateauing with my workouts and he suggested CrossFit. I looked into it and joined CrossFit NYC. Tripp was a machine. Always pushing himself. Always competitive. Yet always encouraging of others.

It was before and after class that I reconnected with Tripp. We’d laugh about running a CrossFit New York mile – running down the stairs, crisscrossing around pedestrians, slipping on a patch of ice. He kept me honest by calling out my questionable reps in CrossFit or my questionable logic when I formed a flawed argument. No wonder he became a lawyer.

During this period of sadness, Americans will remember Tripp for being a true hero for his service and dedication to the FDNY, Air Force, and the United States. CrossFitters will remember Tripp as he likely joins the ranks of Michael, DT, and Murph. And I will remember Tripp as a good person, a loyal friend, and someone who could laugh at his name.

– Tony Tao, former member

Tripp was one of the kindest, most genuine people I’ve ever had the privilege to know. His enthusiasm and intensity were palpable but he was also extremely hard on himself. So hard that one time I had to pull him aside to ask why he was crushing himself in a grueling WOD. He leaned in and softly admitted that the other guys were teasing him about his form and time. I had to gently, but firmly remind him that none of them were running into burning buildings on a weekly basis or getting ready to go into the Air Force. I remember receiving emails from him once he was at Vance AFB and how excited he was to establish the first CF affiliate there and be the first CFL1 on base(!) I must admit, when I heard that he had graduated from Stanford Law, I breathed a silent sigh of relief, believing he was safe, his future success assured, and that I would soon see him once again, being brilliant. But when you are as skilled at such a crucial job as his was in the PJ’s, I imagine it must be hard to turn down a request for service. Our world is a poorer one without him in it and I sit here feeling a tenth of the man he was, vowing to do better with my life.

– Court Wing, CFNYC co-founder/co-owner

I met Tripp at CFNYC and was trying to recall workouts we did together. Mainly it was the moments outside the gym that came to mind. He helped me move into my new apartment while pointing out fire code violations. We celebrated a freezing New Year’s when my oven stopped working. He was kind and generous, quietly determined. Beyond his accomplishments and service, there are few humans like him in the world, and was lost far too soon.

– Audrey Huzenis, member

Tripp had all the qualities I value. He was intelligent, athletic, intense, funny, caring, hardworking, creative, and giving of himself. We spent a lot of time working out side by side at the gym, yet I feel sad and ashamed I let so many opportunities to get closer to him slip though my fingers.

His death is a reminder to me to be more of all the qualities that he embodied. It is a reminder to leave the people I meet in this world with fond memories of me. It is a reminder to recognize the best qualities in others and acknowledge and cherish those people in my life before it’s too late. Of course, I feel awful for the people that were closest to him. My sadness doesn’t compare, but my gratitude for the time I did have with Tripp is real. The example he set forth for what a life, a good life, full of meaning and purpose should look like is something I will carry forward.

-Keith Wittenstein, former CFNYC co-founder/owner

I met Tripp at CrossFit Virtuosity during the Subway Series. In 2012, Tripp, Jay Hachadoorian, I traded workout wins during the CrossFit Open, sharing laughs and memories after doing all we could in a workout to beat each other. However, I remember Tripp’s amazingly positive attitude the most. Now, I’m gonna be honest here. I saw the news of a helicopter crashing, people died, but I didn’t pay attention. It was just another tragedy over seas. I went to the gym. Continued with my daily chores. My wife posted a link about the accident. I thought it odd, but clicked the link and saw that it was Tripp and my heart dropped.

The last time I remember talking to Tripp was when CrossFit Gantry opened and he said he was going back overseas. I remember hoping he would come back safe. I feel like the world was robbed a a better person than me and it’s wrong. I wish I could walk into the gym and see Tripp and say “3,2,1 go” one more time and see who stands on top of the podium this time.

-Nick Lobotsky, former CFNYC coach

Tripp was one of our most dedicated members back in the earliest days of CFNYC. At the Box, Tripp had the type of warm, infectious personality that help everyone around him get through a tough WOD. On the flip side, Tripp was also very earnest – so earnest he was compelled to serve his city (FDNY), his country (Air Force), and the world (intelligence consultant to NATO).

When I muse on what it was about Tripp that made me so devastated to hear of his passing, I was reminded of this Maya Angelou quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Reading the personal tributes about Tripp, from folks in all walks of life, it’s clear that Tripp made people feel joyful, seen and heard, understood.

-Allison Bojarksi, former CFNYC coach

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