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Fort Riley Soldiers win gold at Warrior Games Trials

By Jessica Healey | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | July 21, 2014

Energy management, breathing techniques and mental conditioning helped three Fort Riley Soldiers prepare for competition in the Warrior Games Trials June 15 to 20 in West Point, New York.

Sgt. Scotty Hasting, Sgt. Erin Stewart and Spc. Jesse Sweesy, all from the Warrior Transition Battalion, competed in three sports and won 14 medals combined, including five gold medals.

“I was just thrilled not only with the results, but just the way they handled themselves as athletes there; and it was fun to watch them have fun,” said Susan Goodman, master resilience trainer, Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Training Center.

Goodman is one of the mental resiliency coaches who helps train the Soldiers for athletic competitions.

The training involves breathing techniques and energy management to help keep the athletes focused while under pressure during a competition.

“The skills they are learning for their sports will also make a huge impact in their personal lives,” Goodman said. “They’ve seen how the skills are effective in a competition environment, so they realize how the skills will help in other environments as well.”

The breathing and energy management will advance from monitoring the athletes’ heart rates and breathing patterns to monitoring those vital signs while they are training through a mobile application at the Army Wellness Center.

“It will give us more real time feedback while they are practicing, so we’re going to build on that skill,” Goodman said. “We’re also going to work on building routines to help bring consistency to their performances.”

The training and mental conditioning worked for Hasting. He said the competition didn’t seem much different than practicing because he visualized being at the range when he shot, rather than in an area with competitors.

“When I’m competing, I’m here where I train mentally. I visualize it just being another practice, and it worked,” Hasting said.

Before traveling to West Point, Hasting only planned on competing with the air rifle and in archery. However, once he arrived, he competed in swimming as well and earned a total of five medals – three of which were gold.

“I stepped out of my comfort zone and actually learned a lot,” he said.

Unfortunately, Sweesy spent part of the competition ill at the hospital but still competed immediately after being released.

“You just have to be able to take a step back and put things in perspective when adversity comes your way,” Sweesy said. “We went there to compete, and that’s what we did.”

He credits his mental resiliency training and the ability to keep the big picture in mind for helping him not become frustrated.

There was a lot of camaraderie among the competitors, which made the experience enjoyable, Sweesy said.

“Almost all of the athletes there were supportive of each other despite the fact that they were trying to beat each other,” he said.

The supportive and accepting environment was a highlight for Stewart as well.

“I really enjoyed being around a bunch of disabled people and not feeling disabled,” she said. “People were missing arms, legs, scars all over the place and we were all the same. Nobody was different; nobody was looked at any different; we weren’t given special treatment; we were all normal.”
Tag Warrior Games