Though Libby was unable to participate in track during her sophomore year at UNO, she was still able to utilize the training facilities on campus. She liked lifting weights, and met two UNO strength and conditioning coaches while in the weight room: Joe Westerlin, UNO graduate and football player, and Ricky Frausto Jr., a UNO graduate and wrestler.
Westerlin and Frausto had recently founded CrossFit Omaha out of UNO’s facilities. In 2008, when the business began to thrive, they quit their jobs with UNO and moved the gym to 8938 L Street, where it continues to operate with Joe at the helm. This was the first CrossFit box in the Omaha area. While still working out of UNO, they approached Libby in late 2007 and told her she should try CrossFit. By the summer of 2008, Libby was competing at the second CrossFit Games competition. She placed sixth out of 91 women competing. Frausto, who placed sixth in the men’s competition the same year, echoes Priester’s assessment of Libby as a gifted athlete. “At the time, there were very few females of her caliber. She had high relative strength, which transferred well to gymnastics movements, and she could work a heavy barbell over, too. The total package” (Frausto).
Libby’s success in this new sport, just on the verge of exploding in popularity, changed her plans. She enjoyed the intensity and variety of movements CrossFit provided (Hinds). While she continued to take classes at UNO, her training in CrossFit became a priority, and her track career was left behind as she focused on a workout that would ultimately change her future. Yet, Libby is modest about her success in CrossFit. Though her surprise top-ten finish at the 2008 Crossfit Games led to high expectations for her at the 2009 Games, she had a different way of looking at it. “I never went into the Games after that thinking, ‘Okay, I’m going to try to win next year.’ I just kept doing it because I really liked it, and that’s the only reason I still do it now. I like to work out and especially like CrossFit” (L. DiBiase).
She did make it to the 2009 Games in July, where she placed 47th. Although it may seem her finish the previous year had been a fluke, in reality, the CrossFit Games were growing. CrossFit, initially a fitness movement, had become a sport. Many new and talented athletes were jumping on board, and the competition was becoming more elite with each passing year.
Libby, still working on earning a degree from UNO, was in a relationship with Westerlin, co-founder of CrossFit Omaha, and was pregnant. Their son, Cruz, was born eight months later, on February 25, 2010 (L. DiBiase)
Libby continued to attend UNO throughout her pregnancy, though it was a struggle. “I had a lot of setbacks and . . . I just found out I couldn’t juggle school and a sport like that. I just can’t. I’m not a naturally gifted person academically” (L. DiBiase). Pregnancy didn’t make it easier. “I was pretty pregnant and I couldn’t even fit in the desk” (L. DiBiase). This led to some attempts at online coursework, and some breaks from school, but eventually, Libby returned to UNO to complete her degree. Although she felt unprepared to have a child at 21, she managed the emotional stress through doing what she loved—CrossFit. “I was doing it before. I knew what to do, Joe helped me a lot, and I didn’t do anything nuts. It definitely helped, I think, for the delivery, too”