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,
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
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
“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.”