To say Coconut Creek’s Cassandra Burke is competitive would be an understatement.
“When I am competing for something, it is like a switch and I change completely,” said the 25-year-old Burke, who has done CrossFit training and competitions for nearly three years. “When it comes to competing, I pretty much do whatever it takes. Winning is everything for me. I hate losing.”
Burke’s unrelenting drive to succeed was on full display for a television audience on Jan. 10, when she was one of eight female contestants in Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge, a CMT reality competition show that features a series of head-to-head physical challenges in a single-elimination bracket format for a chance to win prize money. It taxes the competitors’ strength, stamina and endurance.
Burke defeated Andrea Logan, a 49-year-old Marine from Malibu, Calif., during the first challenge, called Snatch, in which competitors started on opposite ends of a course and raced to grab a 15-pound sand bag. They had to pick it up and then rush over and be the first to ring their opponent’s bell.
Logan had the early advantage, but Burke persevered and advanced to the second round.
“Andrea came out of the gate much harder than I thought,” Burke said. “She had a lot of power and a lot of strength, and I didn’t let it get to me. I just kept pushing through.”
Burke then lost in the second round to Brenna Calvert, 27, a pro obstacle course racer from Woodlands, Texas. The second-round event was called Water Logged, in which competitors start with a rope, navigate through a 50-foot-wide water pit, attach the rope to a 140-pound log and drag the log into the canal and past a finish line.
While Burke may have come up short in her bid to win the top prize of $10,000, she enjoyed her experience.
“It was actually a lot tougher than I expected it to be, and the girls were all tougher than I thought they would be,” said Burke, who owns a trucking firm that transports freight and goods across the U.S. “This is definitely an experience of a lifetime, and if possible, I would love to do it again.”
Former professional wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin hosts the show at a site just outside Los Angeles, Calif. The contestants for the show are selected from athletic backgrounds, including CrossFit, Spartan Racers, Tough Mudder, mixed martial arts (MMA), pro obstacle course racers and pro wrestling.
Burke also has a football background, which helped her on the show. She played for a year with the Legends Football League franchise in Tampa. The professional 7-on-7 women’s circuit kicked off in 2009 as the Lingerie Football League before being rebranded in 2013 as the Legends Football League.
“It was awesome,” said Burke, who played on the offensive and defensive lines for the Tampa Breeze. “Those girls were tough, and being on the show really reminded me of my football-playing days.”
Burke, who competes in many CrossFit events, always finishes near the top of the leader board. When it comes to lifting, she’s no slouch: She can squat and dead lift 300 pounds.
“CrossFit is a big passion of mine,” Burke said. “I think that, more than anything, trained me perfectly for the Broken Skull Challenge. One of the most memorable parts was meeting Steve Austin. I was a little intimidated at first. … He is just the nicest, coolest guy.”