Our Coaches

John Dill

Founder, Head Coach

John Dill is the founder and Head Coach at CrossFit Sua Sponte. He began training and coaching CrossFit at Outlaw CrossFit in August 2009 after five years of service in the US Army as an Airborne Ranger in 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. He got his start in Fitness growing up right here in Raleigh playing and training for various baseball, soccer, and basketball teams, and playing high school basketball at Sanderson High School, before attending classes at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His skills as a coach come from years spent as a student, experience as a Platoon Leader responsible for 75 Rangers, experience as both a regional competitor in the 2010 and 2011 CrossFit Games and as a coach at the 2011 CrossFit Games Finals, and his desire to grow and learn continuously through life. He trains/coaches individuals and groups of all ages and fitness levels in nutrition, fitness, and athletic conditioning. His workouts are the most effective and efficient you’ll find anywhere.

In the fall of 1999, I began my studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). After 4 years at UNC, I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and returned home to Raleigh North Carolina. Upon return with the events of September 11th 2001 still fresh on my mind, I decided to join the military. During my last two combat deployments to Afghanistan as a Captain in 2nd Ranger Battalion, I began utilizing CrossFit training to increase the functional fitness of both myself and the Rangers I was responsible for leading. The unparalleled level of mental toughness and functional fitness that CrossFit propagates and nourishes was a perfect fit for our needs as Special Operations Soldiers. It was shortly thereafter that I took a job as a civilian contractor for the Department of Defense and began training and coaching as a partner at Outlaw CrossFit located in Old Towne Virginia in August 2009. The camaraderie, active lifestyle, and brotherhood I was missing from my time in Ranger Battalion, I quickly found again with CrossFit. It was at Outlaw CrossFit that I made the final transition from the mundane traditional workout routines of my past to the well developed constantly varied athletic challenge of CrossFit as a SPORT. I quickly exceeded the highest level of fitness I had EVER achieved while in the military. Moreover, I was inspired by the overachievement, people beating the odds, and the physical and mental transformation I was witnessing in our clients in front of my eyes on a daily basis.

During my time at Outlaw CrossFit we became one of the most successful competitive CrossFit affiliates in the country. More importantly, we had a 65 year old lady named Maggie Cohen who could barely walk when she came in the door and can now deadlift 195 lb, squat 135 lb, and run a mile sub 10 minutes for the first time in her life – EVER. Our clients are not professional athletes or Special Ops soldiers. They are normal folks just like you. They simply trusted us with their fitness, and they were not disappointed.

My Mission is simple: Build my business around the style of CrossFit and coaching that I have come to love and around the same core values of Honor, Integrity, and Pursuit of Excellence that were deeply instilled within me from the 75TH Ranger Regiment, in order to create and sustain a thriving CrossFit Community and raise my two beautiful twin daughters in my hometown of Raleigh NC.

Qualifications:

  • CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
  • USAW Level 2 National Coach
  • CrossFit Powerlifting Certified
  • BS in Biology from UNC

Cornelius White

Site Director, Durham

I attended Virginia Tech where I played football. While at Virginia Tech I received a BS in Education with a minor in Health.

When did you start CrossFit and what made you want to try it?
CrossFit, where do I begin… I was a personal trainer at gym in Raleigh and was given a chance to try CrossFit. When they asked me if I’d like to try it I thought they said cross training! I’m always willing to try something different if it will make me a better athlete! After a one-week trial I was hooked.

What is your favorite lift, movement or workout?
My favorite lift is the snatch, which also happens to be my worst lift. It’s a very complex movement, but I hate to be defeated. So, I think its something that will challenge me to push myself and continue on a path of improvement as long as I am a CrossFit athlete. Favorite workout: Annie! Fast double-unders are my JAM!

When did you start coaching?
I’ve been coaching CrossFit starting at the beginning of 2017. However, I’ve been coaching and training in various athletic fields for over 15 years.

What is your favorite aspect of being a CrossFit coach?
The best thing about coaching CrossFit is having the opportunity to watch people do things they’ve never done before. Being able to see the look on member’s faces when they get a PR, string together DUs, get that first muscle up, or finally understand the movements in a complex lift.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to try CrossFit for the first time?
Open your mind to something new. It’s different, but it can change your life. The CrossFit gym is the most friendly and accepting gym environment you’ll ever be in.

What are some of your favorite activities outside the gym?
I like to watch VT football and the Steelers. Did I mention I like football? I also love motorcycles and of course my dogs. They’re my kids! Going to the movies and of course going out to eat are two of my other favorite leisure activities. Yes I like to eat. I think that is a great activity. Don’t judge me! #LOL

You’re on a deserted island and can only have three things, what would they be and why?
I would start with a solar powered Smart TV, with unlimited WIFI so I could watch Football. Some sort of shelter ( a house would be just fine). And of course different flavor wings to watch all the football games on my smart TV.

Qualifications:

  • CrossFit Level 1

Wendy Kesterson

Coach, Raleigh

Originally from KY, moved to NC, lived out west for a while, back to NC. Taught aerobics in college to make money. Loved running – Boston marathon in 2005. Own an art gallery, married, 3 children – Maddy 18, Bode 13, Stokes 5.

When did you start CrossFit and what made you want to try it?
My husband, Charlie, saw a box one day and wanted to check it out.  He paid for my first few months, after that I was hooked. The competition and the community keep me coming back every day.

What is your favorite lift, movement or workout?
Burpees, Burpees, Burpees, Box Jumps and more burpees. I’m a cardio/body weight girl. Give me a Fran, Helen or Cindy any day!

When did you start coaching?
2014

What is your favorite aspect of being a CrossFit coach?
When it clicks – it gives me goosebumps.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to try CrossFit for the first time?
If you stick with it, today will be the worst you’ll every be. Tomorrow will be the same. The next day – the same. If your goal is to consistently make yourself better, CrossFit is the only training that will give you true gains.

What are some of your favorite activities outside the gym?
Competing. Watching my son, a competitive swimmer. Meal prep 🙂

You’re on a deserted island and can only have three things, what would they be and why?
My husband, my children, and an assault bike – I gotta get better!

Qualifications:

  • CrossFit Level 1
  • USA Weightlifiting L1
  • TRX Trainer

Joe Wylie

Coach, Raleigh

When did you start CrossFit and what made you want to try it?
Started about 4 years ago, Looking for a change in my work out routine after it became tedious and boring.

What is your favorite lift, movement or workout?
I Enjoy the full snatch because it incorporates strength, mobility, technique and timing in 1 fluid movement. And it is really rewarding watching a new athlete finally understand the full movement and begin to appreciate it.

When did you start coaching?
2015

What is your favorite aspect of being a CrossFit coach?
Watching people push themselves beyond the boundaries they had set for themselves before realizing that they were capable of more. It is truly amazing to see that satisfaction on their face after they realize they can do more than the boundaries they had previously set for themselves.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to try CrossFit for the first time?
It is not as hard as you think and it is much more rewarding than you think.

What are some of your favorite activities outside the gym?
Hiking, skiing, and traveling

Batman or Superman?
Superman. He can fly. I’ve been practicing, but still can’t fly.

Qualifications:

  • CrossFit Level 1

Emily Tysinger

Site Director, North Raleigh

I was born in Seattle and moved around as a youngster. My elementary years were spent mostly in Pittsboro, NC. Middle School and early high school my family and I moved to Wisconsin and then I finished out high school in Carrboro, NC. I started swimming year round at the age of 7, fell in love with the sport, and ended up swimming at Kenyon College. I earned Bachelors in Biology and Environmental science with a concentration in Sociology.

When did you start CrossFit and what made you want to try it?
I was introduced to CrossFit in 2013 as a way to cross train for swimming when I was back in Chapel Hill during summer breaks. I transitioned to CrossFit as my main workout once I graduated in 2014. I loved the community vibe of the gym and it provided me with the competitive atmosphere I missed from years of competition.

What is your favorite lift, movement or workout?
I love anything with wall balls, box jumps, double unders. All out sprint metcons are my favorite.

When did you start coaching?
I started coaching in January 2016

What is your favorite aspect of being a CrossFit coach?
I just love CrossFit and I enjoy helping people do things that they never thought themselves capable of. In addition, as a coach you meet so many awesome people you might not have met otherwise, and you have the ability to cultivate real community that so many of us lack in other areas of our lives!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to try CrossFit for the first time?
When you try something new, like CrossFit, it’s going to be uncomfortable, but that newness doesn’t last forever. Give yourself time to adjust, be consistent, ask questions, and don’t get frustrated. You will surprise yourself with how quickly your body adjusts and adapts to the movements, intensity, and structure of the classes. Also, don’t forget to have fun! That’s what its about!

What are some of your favorite activities outside the gym?
I love to travel. Spending time exploring new places, cultures, food, and getting to know new people is what life is all about! Back packing, camping, swimming in the ocean, attending the occasional concert, and reading a good book on the beach are all things I try to make time for outside the gym!

Batman or Superman?
Superwoman

Qualifications:

  • CrossFit Level 1

Tommy Cooksey

Coach, Durham

I’m from Southern Maryland near DC. I played organized baseball through high school as well as various other sports in rec leagues or intramurals in college. I went to college on the EasternShore of MD at Salisbury University (the mighty Seagull was our mascot). I moved to Raleigh directly following college in 2007 for a job and have been here ever since. I met my wife at CFSS in 2013. Since then we’ve had a baby boy who is the future of CrossFit and a Golden Retriever, Ripken.

When did you start CrossFit and what made you want to try it?
I started CrossFit at CFSS in November 2012. One of my buddies had been talking about it at work for weeks so I started watching CrossFit YouTube videos and following CFSS on Facebook. After being a globo gym rat for 10 years, my workouts got stale, boring and I was spending way too much time walking around. I was also looking for something to fuel my competitive nature. All it took was one drop-in class with my buddy and I was hooked. I joined the next day having never done a clean, snatch, muscle up or anything other than basic bro gym movements. I’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid ever since. At 30+ I’m in better shape, less aches and pains, healthier diet than I’ve ever been in my life.

What is your favorite lift, movement or workout?
I love the Snatch. The idea of moving a barbell loaded with weight directly from the floor to overhead in one movement is just awesome to me. It requires so much strength, speed, mobility and technique. While my shoulder mobility hasn’t allowed me to throw up the big weights like some folks, I thoroughly enjoy working on it.

When did you start coaching?
I’ve been coaching at CFSS since January 2016.

What is your favorite aspect of being a CrossFit coach?
I love seeing my athletes achieve something that they thought they could never do when they first joined CrossFit. Maybe it’s Rx’ing a workout for the first time, hitting a body weight snatch or maybe its just coming to class 3 times a week with no pain.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to try CrossFit for the first time?
Just do it. It truly is a judgement free environment. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Since we’re all doing the same movements and workouts scaled to our ability, everyone is so encouraging. Also, leave your pride at the door. There are going to be movements you aren’t great at, but through consistency and persistence you’ll no doubt improve. Trust the process, the programming and your coaches!

What are some of your favorite activities outside the gym?
Traveling with my wife and baby
Hikes with our dog
Trying new restaurants in Raleigh and Durham
I actually enjoy yard work

Batman or Superman?
Batman all day every day.

Qualifications:

  • CrossFit Level I Certified
  • Overall Dad Strength

Tyler McCann

Coach, Raleigh

I grew up in Odessa, Tx. I joined the army out of high school and was stationed at Fort Bragg. I moved to Raleigh when I got out.

When did you start CrossFit and what made you want to try it?
September 2014. John talked me into trying the weightlifting program and eventually made me do metcons too.

What is your favorite lift, movement or workout?
Snatch, Muscle Up, Helen

When did you start coaching?
May 2015

What is your favorite aspect of being a CrossFit coach?
Helping people work towards their individual goals and seeing them accomplish them.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to try CrossFit for the first time?
From the outside looking in, CrossFit seems much more intimidating than it truly is. Take the first step, and give it a chance, you won’t regret it.

What are some of your favorite activities outside the gym?
Tacos and pizza

You’re on a deserted island and can only have three things, what would they be and why?
A hammock, to relax in, a friend, to relax with, and a boat, so I’m not stranded on the deserted island.

Qualifications:

  • CrossFit Level 1

Daniel Dean

Coach, Raleigh

Born and raised in Raleigh. Went to NCSU, obtained a very profitable degree in English. Played football in high school, I was first string tackling dummy. I got involved in a lot of different sports during college; surfing, snowboarding, climbing, soccer, and of course bro-type weightlifting. 

When did you start CrossFit and what made you want to try it?
I started CrossFit in 2012. I was always fascinated by the YouTube videos of guys like Rob Orlando, Speal, and Khalipa. It looked so cool, so I’d gather some crappy equipment and try to do it in a park or something. I found out it’s hard to do CrossFit outside of a legit box.

What is your favorite lift, movement or workout?
Murph is the best WOD ever. Period. I like the slow grinders. They make you really think about why you’re doing the WOD. 

When did you start coaching?
I started coaching in 2015 because I wanted to know more about how to help people get better in the gym.

What is your favorite aspect of being a CrossFit coach?
Seeing the lightbulb click when someone finally gets something after working on it for a long time. 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to try CrossFit for the first time?
Do it. Don’t be scared because you’re never “fit enough” to start. Everyone gets humbled in there. And CrossFit is infinitely scaleable which is what makes it unique in my opinion.

What are some of your favorite activities outside the gym?
Hanging with Molly. We watch Friends. Everyday. Oh and our super cool dog Nala Bear Dean. We like to go to breweries and watch people freak out over how awesome our dog is. Truly a majestic beast. 

Batman or Superman?
Harry Potter. 

Qualifications:

  • AASM Personal Trainer
  • CrossFit Level 1
  • EMT- Intermediate

Ryan Vroom

Coach, Durham

I am originally from South Plainfield in the great state of New Jersey. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware and a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University. I have always been involved in competitive athletics, from youth through high school varsity sports. These sports included football, baseball, and ice hockey. Additionally, I was exposed to weight training early in HS in preparation for football, of which I continued this training throughout college. Following college I began boxing to avoid the routine and monotony that so often accompanied traditional weight training.

When did you start CrossFit and what made you want to try it?
After watching the CrossFit Games on TV in the summer of 2012 I had never seen something that blended strength, endurance and athleticism together in such a manner and as a result, I was instantly hooked. Soon thereafter, I attended my first CrossFit Community class.

What is your favorite lift, movement or workout?
My favorite lift would have to be the back squat.

When did you start coaching?
I started coaching in April2014.

What is your favorite aspect of being a CrossFit coach?
I love being able to interact and learn about people with diverse backgrounds as I teach them new skills that improve their overall health.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to try CrossFit for the first time?
The power of CrossFit is in its scalability and welcoming community so don’t worry about where your fitness capacity currently is, as you will be surprised by how the community pulls together to improve your health, both mind and body.

What are some of your favorite activities outside the gym?
Exploring new places and cultures, playing with my dog, watching a good movie

You’re on a deserted island and can only have three things, what would they be and why?
1. Knife – It can act as a weapon, help build shelter or other necessities, etc.
2. Fire Starter – Need fire to make potable drinking water, cook food, have light at night, etc.
3. Pizza – I mean do I really have to explain why? It’s only the most delicious cuisine known to man!

Qualifications:

  • CrossFit Level 1
  • CPR
  • Chinese Weightlifing Technique Clinic with Coach Ma
  • Outlaw Barbell Camp with Jared Fleming