Exclusive interview with 'The Admiral' David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SPORTS

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

This weekend, the greatest rivalry in American sports kicks off (albeit under different circumstances).  This year, the Army Black Knights will host the Midshipmen of the Naval Academy at the United States Military Academy at West Point. The game is usually held at a neutral location but with COVID-19 putting a hold on public gatherings, both schools decided to move the location of the game to West Point. This is the first time since 1943 that the game will be held on campus. While the game location might be different than usual, USAA is working to make sure that fans can still experience the pageantry and excitement of this year’s game, and giving fans an opportunity to win a package to next year’s game! 

USAA partnered with NBA legend and Naval Academy graduate, David Robinson to promote the Army Navy House sweepstakes. 

What is it?

Go to ArmyNavyHouse.com and upload a photo that shows off your Army or Navy fandom, or your favorite Army-Navy Game memory – and you will be entered for a chance to win.

What can you win? 

Well, one Army winner and one Navy winner will each win a trip (including flight, hotel, game tickets) to the 2021 Army-Navy Game in New York, courtesy of USAA.

We Are the Mighty got to sit down with David Robinson and talk about his time at the Naval Academy, his service in the Navy and what the Army-Navy rivalry means to him.

Robinson, known around the world as “The Admiral” played basketball at Navy, before going on to a storied NBA career. Robinson served in the Navy for two years, stationed at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia. Robinson then became a two-time NBA champion, NBA MVP, 10-time All-Star, and led the league in scoring, rebounds and blocks several times. He also was a three-time Olympian, winning the gold medal twice, most famously as a member of the 1992 USA Basketball team. The team would go down as the best basketball team of all time, forever remembered as the Dream Team. Robinson was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame and is considered one of the game’s all time greats. 

The Admiral was kind enough to talk about the game, what USAA is doing, and his time as a midshipman and a Naval Officer. 

David Robinson on the cover of Sports Illustrated
David Robinson on the cover of Sports Illustrated

WATM: So, the first question is what does the Army-Navy, I’m sorry, Navy-Army game, mean to you?

Robinson: (Laughs) It’s the Navy-Army Game. It’s just a great rivalry. It’s a classic rivalry that has class. Some of the rivalries I’ve seen, people are kind of being mean to each other but here there’s just the utmost level of respect that’s been going on forever. And, to me, it’s the best example of just good hard competition and rivalry that we have in all of sport.

WATM: As a midshipman, what was your favorite experience at the Navy-Army game?

Robinson: I actually never got a chance to go! We played basketball, and it always happens during the basketball season. My professional career again, basketball, got in the way so for many, many years. I started going a few years ago. It was four years ago or so and, and I just enjoyed it tremendously. I had always watched on TV, seeing all the excitement, but it’s a different experience in person.

WATM: Oh wow, I didn’t know you couldn’t go when you were in school. But now that you get to go, what is your favorite tradition from the game?

Robinson: The thing I always enjoy is watching the midshipmen and watching the cadets. You know for me, it just takes me back to us going down to do pushups after scores. And so, you know, I think for me it’s just a, it’s a reminder of life at the Academy. I love watching after a team scores the excitement of the students.

WATM: So when you played in San Antonio, which we know is an Air Force town, did you get a lot of grief for being a naval officer?

Robinson: (Laughs) No, no grief. I think it’s been fantastic actually. You know, we have a couple of Army bases and couple of Air Force bases here and it’s just a really great place to live. The military has embraced me so well here, I’ve always felt right at home.

Fortunately, you know, people forgive you after you beat them a couple of times. You look back down the road and it’s actually been a great place for me to be because of the military.

NBA.com

WATM: What advice would you give enlisted troops or kids who are thinking of attending a service academy? 

Robinson: Yeah, I would say, you know, the academies are very, very difficult and they’re very focused. You have to know what you want to get out of it. I always tell people I talked to young kids who want to go to the academies all the time and I tell them that, you know, don’t go because someone else thinks it’s a great idea for you. You’d have to go because it’s your idea and it’s what you think is the perfect thing for you. And if you do that, then you’ll be able to kind of fight through all of the challenges and become a really solid officer. The academies are amazing for people who want to be leaders and who want to take on the responsibility of a leader, which is good and bad, right? You get privileges but you also have tremendous responsibility for people. And if you have a heart to be that type of a person, then you can’t find a better place to go.

WATM: What made you choose the Naval Academy?

Robinson: Well, I think it was my father’s idea for me to go more than anything early on. He introduced me to it and wanted me to take a look at it, I think because he was enlisted in the Navy. He always thought that would be a great path for me and it took a little while for it to grow on me. I grew so late into basketball and it became a factor for me in my senior year. I started looking around and saying, well, is this the best place for me to go, academically and basketball-wise… and and it just had the best combination of everything that fit my personality.

WATM: When you were at the Naval Academy, you were heralded as one of the nation’s best basketball players. How supportive was the administration as it became apparent that you were destined to end up in the NBA at some point?

Robinson: Well, the administration was remarkably supportive, to be honest with you. I mean, coming in, no one thought I was going to be professional basketball player, I was 6’7’ and skinny as a rail. I wasn’t a pro prospect coming in but as the attention gathered and we had more and more success, the Academy did just a great job of embracing me and given me an opportunity to be who I needed to be as a basketball player as well as a military officer. Looking back on it at all, it just worked out so well I couldn’t rewrite the story if I wanted to.

WATM: Now you did serve for a couple of years as a Naval Officer before going to the Spurs full time. As a veteran, what is your favorite memory of serving in the Navy?

Robinson: I think for me just seeing the dedication of folks from the day-to-day basis. I was a civil engineer. I worked down at Kings Bay, Georgia and just going in every day and working hard and seeing the commitment that our service members have to whatever job it is. I mean, I was building explosives, handling stuff for submarines and doing street lights for a new community… and just the professionalism and the energy that our service people take to do their jobs. I think that to me, that is what I enjoyed that more than anything. There’s just such a pride in working together and serving a cause bigger than yourself.

WATM: That’s pretty awesome. So back to the Army-Navy game, what is your prediction for this year’s game? 

Robinson: (Laughs) My prediction is pain… for Army! You know, Army has played so well the last few years, after many years of domination by Navy. So we got our backs against the wall now, and Navy needs to really step it up and defend our honor this year. So, I think we can do it.

WATM: Do you have any Army buddies you make bets on the game with, so you have bragging rights on them? Is there anything in particular that you do for the game to spice up the rivalry a bit?

Robinson: Yes, well you know there, there are guys here locally that I don’t necessarily have bets with but we have spirited conversations. When I was at Navy, Army had a great basketball player named Kevin Houston, one of the top — I think he was the top scorer in the nation our senior year — but Kevin and I have known each other for many, many years and, and it’s always kind of a fun thing.

 You just end up thinking about how it means to us now as opposed to back then. There’s a lot of Army guys that yeah, I have great relationships with them and we just have fun with the game. 

Kevin Houston playing for Army

WATM: We’re pretty excited about the game. It’s going to be a pretty unique because of COVID and everything. This year being at West Point are you hoping that one year, they go back to having it on campus or do you want to keep the neutral site location like how it normally is?

Robinson: Personally I like the neutral site. I think it’s just a game that is bigger than either school. I think it means something to the psyche of America. So I love, I love seeing it kind of on a big stage and being the big production that it generally is, I think that’s fantastic. You know this year is a little bit of a challenge, we’re obviously trying to make it much more accessible to everyone through ArmyNavyHouse.com so that people can still engage but I think all these, all these changes, all these little things here and there you know, add character to the rivalry into the series. But in the long run I’d love to just see a big stadium where the United States can celebrate it.

WATM: Now that we covered the Army-Navy game, we actually wrote an article about you back in April and one of the things we wanted to ask was about the charter school you started. We know you started a charter school in San Antonio toward the end of your playing career. How’s everything going with that especially during COVID. Is everything going okay? 

Robinson: Wow, well, thanks for asking. Yeah, we started the Carver Academy and we actually started as a private school back 20 years ago or so. We built in a low income area on the east side of San Antonio. We wanted to get as many kids college ready who were from low-income areas as possible. We joined up with the charter school group, I don’t know about eight years ago. We’ve been able to grow it incredibly well. Now we’ve got something like 26 schools here in San Antonio and got nearly a hundred schools across Texas and Louisiana. And it’s been amazing with the charter school system in the country. It’s called IDEA public schools and so we’re very excited about it.

Robinson with kids from the Carver Academy

COVID threw around a little bit of wrench for all of education but, you know, from our standpoint, we’re able to focus on getting WiFi access to our families. We’ve opened up the schools, we made sure there was plexiglass up and the kids had an opportunity to be safe. Very few of the kids came back at the beginning but maybe about 25 percent or more are in the schools now, and hopefully we’ll get that back up to a good number soon because with kids from low-income areas, getting them into the classroom is going to be the best way they learn.

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USAA proudly supports the 121st Army-Navy Game as the presenting sponsor of the storied rivalry between the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.

“America’s Game” will be played on the campus at West Point for the first time since 1943 in front of a crowd of Army Cadets and Navy Midshipmen.

Kickoff is set for Saturday, December 12th at 3:00pm EST on CBS.

MIGHTY SPORTS

This week in military academy sports — October 11th, 2018

It’s a busy week in the world of military academy sports. The Army and Navy are facing off on the soccer field this Friday, the Air Force is seeking to dominate volleyball gyms throughout the week, and much more.

This week, We Are The Mighty will be streaming the following events, so stay tuned.


Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Women’s Soccer — Army West Point at Navy (Friday, 10/12, 7:00PM EST)

The 2018 Star Match between the Army and Navy women’s soccer teams lies ahead this Friday night at 7 p.m. in Annapolis. A key part of the Star Series presented by USAA, the Mids will host their service academy rivals from New York in a matchup of two of the Patriot League’s top-five teams. Navy comes into the contest at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility with a 8-4-3 record and a 4-1 mark in Patriot League play, while Army will enter at 6-3-5, 2-2-1 in league action.

Watch the game here LIVE.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Women’s Soccer — Boise State at Air Force (Friday, 10/12, 8:00PM EST)

The Air Force Academy women’s soccer team returns home to play the first of its final two home matches of the 2018 season when it plays host to Boise State, Friday, Oct. 12. The Falcons had their third straight 0-1-1 weekend, as they dropped another 0-1 match, this time to Colorado State. They followed that up with a 1-1 draw at Wyoming. They’re looking to turn their luck around this Friday.

Watch the game LIVE here.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Women’s Volleyball — Nevada at Air Force (Saturday, 10/13, 3:00PM EST)

After a short weekend on the road, the Air Force volleyball team returns to the Academy this weekend for a pair of Mountain West contests. The Falcons, who are 12-7 overall and 8-3 at home, will welcome Nevada to Cadet West Gym on Saturday, Oct. 13. Air Force holds a 5-8 series record against Nevada.

Watch the game LIVE here.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Women’s Volleyball — Bucknell at Army West Point (Saturday, 10/14, 3:00PM EST)

On Saturday, October 14, Army West Point hosts Bucknell at Gillis Field House for a Patriot League match-up. Both Army and Bucknell are currently struggling for a positive record — and Saturday’s meeting just might be the switch in momentum needed.

Tune in LIVE here.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Men’s Soccer — Yale at Army West Point (Tuesday, 10/16, 7:00PM EST)

Yale is headed to West Point to face Army on Clinton Field. The Bulldogs are currently sitting at 4-4-2, but have to face Cornell before going up against the Black Knights on Tuesday. Both teams have been cooling off lately and are desperately seeking a win.

Click here to watch the game LIVE.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Women’s Volleyball — Air Force at Utah State (Thursday, 10/18, 9:00PM EST)

This Thursday, Air Force is traveling to Kirby Court at the Wayne Estes Center to face Utah State. Don’t miss a minute of the action!

Click here to watch the game LIVE on Thursday.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Meet the troops who tackled security at the Super Bowl

As football fans geared up for Feb. 3, 2019’s ultimate event of the football season, National Guard civil support team members were on site in Atlanta to ensure Super Bowl LIII went off without a hitch.

“They’re just monitoring the area to make sure there are no weapons of mass destruction or no precursors for WMDs in the area,” said Army Lt. Col. Jenn Cope, CST program branch chief at the National Guard Bureau. “That will continue through the game and then for days afterward.”

Elements from eight different CSTs from eight different states were in Atlanta providing assistance, with the Georgia National Guard’s 4th Civil Support Team acting as the lead team.


“It’s a continuous operation for a long period of time, so they’ll need more than just [one CST],” said Cope.

The CSTs began their Super Bowl mission, which started with a sweep of the stadium and surrounding areas to get a baseline reading of the area. That allowed the teams to detect elements already there that may signal the presence of chemical, biological or a large-scale explosive device, while also providing a range of pre-game “normal” readings.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Second Lt. Dustin McCormick, left, and Sgt. William Bean from the 10th Civil Support Team (CST) discuss their plan of action to install radiation monitoring equipment around CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington, Nov. 20, 2017.

(Photo by Spc. Alec Dionne)

CST members then watched for any changes to those readings, using sensor equipment that allowed for near real-time tracking. Should a sensor have “pinged,” team members would then have notified state and local officials.

“Their job is to assist and advise,” said Cope, of the CSTs’ mission. “They can’t make the decision on what is to be done. That’s done by local, state and federal agencies. We’re there in a support role.”

And the CSTs are uniquely equipped and set up to provide that support, said Cope.

“The CSTs are set up specifically to be able to work with our interagency partners — that’s part of our prime mission,” she said. “Our radio frequencies are the same that local first responders or the FBI or other agencies at these events use. The CST’s mission is to assess the situation, analyze and provide information to our interagency partners.”

Taking part in the behind-the-scenes aspect of the Super Bowl isn’t a new mission for the CSTs, who provide similar monitoring and analysis at large-scale events, including the State of the Union Address, high-profile sporting events and other comparable large or high visibility events.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, host venue of Super Bowl LIII.

“The CSTs participate in most national security events,” said Cope. “The Super Bowl falls under that.”

Cope added that the CSTs are the perfect asset for the mission of detecting possible WMDs.

“The CSTs are the most trained, the best-trained assets for countering WMDs,” she said. “There is no other unit like them in the National Guard and even in the active component there are very few teams that do what the CSTs do.”

When not supporting events like the Super Bowl, CSTs are often called upon by state and local authorities to respond to incidents involving the release or threatened release of nuclear, biological, radiological, or toxic or poisonous chemicals. In fiscal year 2017, the last year for which data is available, CSTs responded to more than 3,100 events or incidents throughout the U.S.

“They provide that broad spectrum of detection and protection for the states and the events that are happening,” said Cope. “Our guys analyze and detect and then provide that critical information back to state, local and federal authorities.”

And that’s all part of the mission.

“WMDs are a threat throughout the world,” said Cope. “The CSTs are set up to protect the homeland from that.”

MIGHTY SPORTS

Former Army Ranger crushes world record for pullups in a day

When one pushes their body to its most extreme limit, they find that they are simultaneously pushing their mind and spirit. Few are more familiar with this feeling than Brandon Tucker — a U.S. Army Ranger veteran who climbed his way to becoming a squad leader in the 3rd Ranger Battalion. When he was medically discharged due to inflammatory bowel disease, his sense of purpose and drive was not deterred. He dove headfirst into the fitness and business world by managing Uncommon Athlete in Columbus, Georgia, while also serving as a personal trainer and fitness instructor there.

As a testament to his dedication to fitness, on Oct. 26, 2019, Tucker surpassed the world record for number of pullups in a day. The feat is currently undergoing the verification process with Guinness World Records. Tucker completed 7,715 pullups in the span of 24 hours, beating the previous record of 7,600 by a significant margin.


Coffee or Die recently spoke to Tucker about his achievement.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Tucker served in D Co, 3/75 from 2011 to 2018.

(Photo courtesy of Brandon Tucker.)

“I was so glad to be done — I was having doubts when I had around 5,000 pullups because up to that point, I had only done 4,300 in my training. That took me 14 hours,” Tucker said. “Once I hit 5,000 on game day, I started having all these doubts. It was new ground — I didn’t know if I was going to hit a wall, hit a second wind … I wasn’t sure. My muscles were failing, my hands were blistered … it was painful, man. I had two pairs of gloves on, and I had on these leather cowhide pieces under those. My hands still felt like I had stuck them on a stovetop … But I just had to stay on course.”

Tucker said he repeated a mantra to himself for motivation: “Three pullups every 30 seconds. Three pullups every 30 seconds.” If he felt good, he would try for four every 30 seconds to create a buffer.

“Your body is amazing when you have the mind to work it and push it,” he said.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

In training, Tucker would do over 1,000 pull ups a day.

(Photo courtesy of Brandon Tucker.)

Tucker’s road to the pullup bar was not an easy one. Prior to being medically discharged, Tucker’s mother was killed in a car accident. This hit Tucker hard, but she remained a source of inspiration for him after her passing, just as she had been when she was alive.

“My mom saw so much potential in me, and I never really saw it myself. I used her faith in me to literally pull myself upward,” Tucker said. “We’re so quick to be victims of our circumstances. We naturally want to find all these excuses as to why we can’t do something, instead of just saying, ‘You know what? I’m just going to go do this.’ I’ve never trained for something like I trained for these pullups. I’ve never put this amount of discipline into training, recovery, all of that.”

On most training days, Tucker would do 1,000 pullups. He found himself truly understanding the value of recovery and discovered the need to be disciplined in that regard just as he was disciplined in every other area of his training.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

During the event, Tucker repeated the mantra “Three pullups every 30 seconds, three pullups every 30 seconds.”

(Photo by Matt McQuire Photo.)

Technically speaking, Tucker’s pullup record is still filed as an “attempt.” He is currently in the verification process with the Guiness Book of World Records, a process that is now past the submission stage and into the verification stage.

This is not a straightforward process; Guinness requires a host of verifications, witnesses, and documentation to qualify. Prior to the day of the event, Tucker’s mind had to be honed and focused on the training portion — he needed help with the logistics of the event itself.

This is where Tucker’s military family stepped in — particularly Mary Kubik, Gold Star sister of fallen Army Ranger Ronald Kubik (KIA April 2010). Not only did she help him find someone to set up the two verification cameras, coordinate the witnesses, and keep log sheets, she also helped him come up with a list of charities they felt were worthy of support.

Tucker’s GoFundMe donations will help support Rescue 22, Warrior Fortitude, Darby’s Warrior Support, Warrior Outreach Inc., Achilles International – Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans, and Higher Ground USA.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

“This is what I’m passionate about. It’s what I like to do.”

(Photo by Matt McQuire Photo.)

Three days before Tucker attempted to break the world record, he reached out to the previous world record holder, John Orth. Tucker had heard Orth on a podcast, and he had found it incredibly motivating. He wasn’t sure how Orth would take being contacted by the person trying to break his record, but Tucker sent him a message on Instagram anyway.

Not only was Orth receptive, but he was eager to give Tucker encouragement and some practical tips as well. At the time, Tucker was planning on moving forward with a single pair of gloves. Orth immediately told him to have 10 pairs of gloves and make sure they were kept dry.

“Had I not reached out to him, I probably would have failed,” Tucker said. “He’s an awesome guy, he was all about helping me.”

That spirit inspired a similar attitude in Tucker. “Now that I’ve done it, I’m not worried about someone breaking [the record],” he said. “I want someone to break it.”

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Tucker left the military as a Ranger squad leader.

(Photo courtesy of Brandon Tucker.)

When asked what his plans are after the verification process is complete, Tucker said he plans to continue focusing on his health and fitness.

“I am sick,” Tucker said. “I do have this disease that I get treated for every eight weeks. I struggled after I got out [of the Army], but now this thing has lit a fire inside me. I don’t know what’s next, but I want to see what I’m capable of with this body and my mind. If it’s fitness related and I can’t do it, it’s my own fault. I’m surrounded by the coaches, the gyms, the nutrition coaches — I have all the tools.”

He also expressed a desire to continue to see Uncommon Athlete grow and thrive. The “multipurpose fitness training facility,” as their website describes, has operated just outside of Fort Benning, Georgia, since 2011.

“I think we all have a calling,” Tucker said. “We all have that voice that whispers to us. For me, I’ve always had this voice about fitness and competing. My mom would always say it and I’d always tell myself — but I’d be too scared to act on it and really put myself out there.

“Listen to that voice, and just try it. If it doesn’t work, then just move on to the next objective. Don’t get stuck because you don’t know where to go. You know where to go — listen to the voice in your head. Life is all about choices. You can either settle, or you can continue to fight and go for what you want.”

This Is What It’s Like to Run the Darby Queen Obstacle Course

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

7 fat-burning workouts that aren’t boring

For some guys, the structure and routine of hitting the gym is exactly what they need to keep their fitness on track. For others, it’s a slog. The space is dark, the treadmills relentless, and the music mind-numbing. You’d rather be outside, shooting hoops with your boys. Which, actually, you should be, since a pick-up game of basketball burns more calories and builds more muscles than any 30-minute session on the elliptical ever could.

If sports excite you more than spin class, and the idea of scoring points matters more than how much you can bench press, consider these activities that emphasize team spirit and gamesmanship while getting you, incidentally, super fit.


Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

(Photo by Christopher Burns)

1. Tennis

At 600 calories an hour, you’ll definitely be feeling the burn as you channel your inner Nadal. What’s more, the lateral movements — something your body is not used to — strengthens your glutes, quads, calves, and core, while mastering your stroke is excellent for developing ripped shoulder and arm muscles.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

(Photo by Edoardo Busti)

2. Soccer

A sneaky way to disguise a running workout, you’ll benefit from exercising with your buddies on soft turf. Few activities tax the lungs and heart the way running does, so you’ll reap the benefits of a monster aerobic workout while still honing your coordination and motor skills. The sport burns about 300 calories for every 30 minutes of field time.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

(Photo by Tamarcus Brown)

3. Basketball

The quintessential pickup basketball game is so popular because it is both exceptionally simple (you just need a ball and hoop), and also enticingly precise (the satisfaction of hitting a three-pointer is hard to beat). The calorie burn is on par with tennis (roughly 600 an hour), but the rhythmic agility and closer physical contact of b-ball means you work a little more on balance and flexibility.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

(Photo by Elizeu Dias)

4. Volleyball

There are indoor leagues where you can play in a gymnasium in the winter, but nothing beats beach volleyball for that emotional, summer-is-finally-here high. (You don’t have to live at the beach either, New York City has large courts in the middle of Central Park.) You’ll burn around 400 calories an hour in this spirited game, developing shoulder and arm muscles, eye-hand coordination, and explosive power from your jump shots, all the while protecting your bones by landing on soft sand.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

(Photo by Jose Francisco Morales)

5. Baseball and Softball

Team camaraderie rules this sport, so if socializing is an important carrot for getting you to exercise, consider spending an hour or two, a few nights a week, in the dugout with your buds, swapping jokes and de-stressing while building a solid fitness base. The on-off nature of the sport means you burn fewer calories (around 350 per hour), but you’ll get moderate cardio from running the bases, and reasonable upper-body strength from working on your swing.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

(Photo by Josh Rocklage)

6. Ultimate Frisbee

No longer the pastime of overgrown collegiates, ultimate frisbee is a legit sport recognized by the International Olympic Committee. More importantly, it is a game on nonstop running, leaping, reaching, and throwing. This full-body workout burns about 500 calories an hour, while developing reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and some serious tumbling skills.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

(Photo by Riley McCullough)

7. Football

Strength, explosiveness, mental toughness and a desire to be pummeled by large men are at the core of this sport. In rec leagues, the physical contact is often moderated (see: flag football), so if you’re looking for the adrenalin rush minus the bruising, know which rules you’re playing by before you sign up. While calorie burn varies significantly depending on the position your play, you’ll definitely benefit from an increase in strength, flexibility, and range of motion through warm-up drills and stretches.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

See how huge this Army Ranger and Steelers lineman really is as he greets troops before a game

They used to call him “The Giant” – they being The Taliban. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva is still a giant, he’s just not fighting in Afghanistan anymore. His new fight is the ten-yard fight and the erstwhile U.S. Army second lieutenant’s new job is protecting the back of Steelers QB, Ben Roethlisberger. And judging by the team’s performance against the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 8, 2018, he must be pretty good at it.

Before the game kicked off, Fox Sports caught a glimpse of Villanueva jogging over to the sidelines to greet some active duty and reserve troops. That’s when you can really understand why the Taliban gave him that nickname.


Villanueva is a West Point graduate and played collegiate football on the offensive line for the Army Black Knights. When photographed with other NFL players — who are all large human beings — his size doesn’t seem all that remarkable. It’s when he goes to the sidelines to visit U.S. troops that you can see just how huge he is compared to the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States – who are no strangers to working out themselves.

And that’s probably why the Steelers have him watching Big Ben’s back.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

One of these two is nicknamed “Big,” the other one is Alejandro Villanueva.

On the field, Roethlisberger looks like he lives up to the nickname “Big Ben.” The Steelers QB is 6’5″ and 240 pounds, cutting a unique outline on the playing field. In comparison, Villanueva is 6’9″ and 320 pounds.

Villanueva is still dedicated to the traditions held dear by most military veterans. During the 2017-2018 season, he created a row by leaving the locker room for the national anthem, leaving the rest of his team inside, a decision he later regretted. When sales of his jersey spiked in response to that action, it became the most popular jersey in the league. The former Army Ranger donated the proceeds of jersey sales to the USO and veteran-related nonprofits in AFC North cities, as he always has.

That consistency defines Alejandro Villanueva. He wasn’t just visiting troops before the Steelers-Panthers game because of the NFL’s “Salute to Service” month or any special event. He always goes to shake hands with visiting troops before every game, home or away.

Just for fun, watch Villanueva manhandle legendary Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who is 6’3″ and 265 pounds and is number 19 on the all-time QB sack records. Villanueva chops him down like he’s made of balsa wood.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Rangers lead the way.

MIGHTY TRENDING

USAA invites Army-Navy game fans to celebrate virtually at Army-Navy House

SAN ANTONIO – USAA, the presenting-sponsor of the 121st Army-Navy Game on Dec. 12, is launching the “Army-Navy House” sweepstakes ahead of this year’s game to help fans continue to celebrate the game’s rivalry and traditions despite COVID-19 restrictions.

One of college football’s most revered and storied rivalries will continue as the Army Black Knights take on the Navy Midshipmen at Michie Stadium on the campus at West Point, NY. However, only the Brigade of Midshipmen and Corps of Cadets, the students at each academy, will be allowed in the stands. No outside fans will be able to attend in person.

USAA has planned the Army-Navy House sweepstakes to allow fans to carry on the rivalry from the comfort of their home. Fans can visit www.ArmyNavyHouse.com and upload a photo that shows off their fandom to be entered into the sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to the 2021 Army-Navy Game in New York City. One winner from each fandom will be chosen. Fans can also share their uploaded photos to social media using the hashtag #ArmyNavyHouse.

“There is no other rivalry that matches the passion, tradition and patriotism of the Army-Navy Game,” said USAA Chief Brand Officer Tony Wells, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. “Brothers and sisters in arms all year, this is the one afternoon when they are rivals. While we share fans’ disappointment that we cannot celebrate these future leaders in person, we can still share our support through Army-Navy House and come together virtually as we have learned to do during this pandemic.”

In addition to the two grand prize winners, 1,000 fans from each Academy who upload a photo will be eligible to win a commemorative ticket from this year’s game. Many Army-Navy fans have ticket stubs from games they have attended for the past 10, 20 or 30 years in a row. The commemorative ticket is a chance for fans to keep their streak alive even though they can’t be there in person.

This year’s playing of “America’s Game” marks the first time the Army-Navy Game will be played at a home site since World War II when Annapolis hosted the 1942 game and West Point the 1943 game.

The 121st playing of the Army-Navy Game presented by USAA will air on CBS at 3:00 pm ET on Saturday, Dec. 12. The annual Army-Navy Game is normally the last regular season matchup in college football, and Navy leads the series 61-52-7, having snapped a three-game Army winning streak last year .

About USAA

Founded in 1922 by a group of military officers, USAA is among the leading providers of insurance, banking and investment and retirement solutions to 13 million members of the U.S. military, veterans who have honorably served and their families. Headquartered in San Antonio, Tex., USAA has offices in seven U.S. cities and three overseas locations and employs more than 35,000 people worldwide. Each year, the company contributes to national and local nonprofits in support of military families and communities where employees live and work. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@USAA), or visit usaa.com

USAA 2020 Army Navy Game Sweepstakes

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S./D.C., 18+. Starts at 12:00:01 a.m. CT on 12/2/20 and ends at 11:59:59 p.m. CT on 12/17/20.  See Official rules at www.ArmyNavyHouse.com for details on how to enter, additional eligibility restrictions, prize descriptions/restrictions/ARVs and complete details. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: USAA, 9800 Fredericksburg Road, San Antonio, TX 78288-0020. The trademarks, logos and names of other companies, products and services are the property of their respective owners. Membership eligibility and product restrictions apply and are subject to change. USAA means United Services Automobile Association and its affiliates. © 2020 USAA. 269007-0320

MIGHTY SPORTS

Soldier-athletes win the 35th annual Army Ten-Miler

After a 10 mile run trailing around national monuments in Washington, D.C., Spc. Lawi Lalang, from Fort Carson, a member of the 2019 All-Army Ten Miler team, crossed the finish line with a time of 48:38, making him the men’s champion of the 2019 Army Ten Miler. Spc. Elvin Kibet, also a member of the 2019 All-Army Ten Miler team, earned first in the women division with a time of 54:05.

“It was so great out there, I have no words to describe how I am feeling,” said Kibet, a soldier-athlete in the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program “I had soldiers cheering me on, it was like no race I have ever done before.”

An All-Army Ten-Miler team soldier-athlete has won the Army Ten-Miler every year since 2015.


Lalang, a horizontal construction engineer, kept a mile pace of 4:51 during his first ever Army-Ten Miler.

“Spc. Benard Keter and I started with a pretty fast pace,” said Lalang. “At mile seven I pushed it a little bit more and that’s when I knew I had it. I won this race for the Army.”

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Spc. Elvin Kibet, who ran on the 2019 All-Army Ten Miler team, won the women’s division of the 2019 Army Ten Miler with a time of 54:05. Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Joseph Martin were present at the finish line of the race to congratulate Kibet. Kibet is also a soldier-athlete in the World Class Athlete Program.

(Photo by Brittany Nelson)

Keter, also a WCAP Solider-athlete, won second place overall for the men with a time of 49:04. Lalang has an extensive running background including being an eight time NCAA Division 1 National Champion at the University of Arizona.

Kibet ran at the University of Arizona where she broke the school’s women’s 5,000 meter record. She kept a mile pace of 5:24 and knew she was going to win after mile four.

“When we started it was a big crowd and I wasn’t sure if there were females in front of me but when I got to mile four someone said ‘first female’ and I thought ‘Oh that’s me!,” said Kibet. “The rest of the way I kept hearing first female and I was confident that I was going to win.”

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Spc. Benard Keter finishing the 2019 Army Ten-Miler in second place with a time of 49:04. Keter was on the All-Army Ten Miler team and is currently a soldier-athlete in the World Class Athlete Program.

(Photo by Brittany Nelson)

The 2019 All-Army Ten-Miler team was made up of six soldier-athletes from around the world and coached by retired Col. Liam Collins. Three of the soldier-athletes are members of WCAP.

Kibet also won first place in the female military division. Maj. Kelly Calway, a member of the All-Army Ten Miler team, won second place for the female military division.

Over 35,000 people participated in the 2019 Army-Ten Miler with more than half of the runners affiliated with the Military.

“The best part was running with my fellow soldiers,” said Lalang. “Seeing the soldiers cheer you on is the greatest feeling. I have wanted to win the Army Ten-Miler since basic training and now my dream has come true.”

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Maj. Kelly Calway crossing the finish line of the 2019 Army Ten-Miler. Calway won second place in the female military category. She was on the 2019 All-Army Ten Miler team.

(Photo by Brittany Nelson)

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Joseph Martin were present at the finish line of the race to congratulate Lalang and Kibet. Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston and Chief of Staff of the Army General James McConville were on stage during the ceremony to hand the winners their awards.

“Being congratulated by the senior Army leadership was great,” said Lalang. “I had just finished the race so I didn’t realize who had given me a coin then I looked down at it and thought ‘Oh my gosh that’s the Secretary of the Army!’ It was indescribable.”

Up next for Lalang is the seventh CISM Military World Games where he will compete in the 1,500 meter race. Both Lalang and Kibet are also gearing up for the Olympics trials for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Spc. Lawi Lalang placed first in the 2019 Army-Ten Miler and Spc. Benard Keter placed second. Spc. Elvin Kibet placed first in the women’s division. All three winners are soldier-athletes in the World Class Athlete program and were on the 2019 All-Army Ten Miler team. Maj. Kelly Calway won second for top female military finisher. 2019 All-Army Ten Miler team members include: Spc. Michael Biwott from Fort Hood, Maj. Kelly Calway from Fort Jackson, Sgt. Peter Koskey from USAG Humphreys, and WCAP soldiers Spc. Benard Keter, Spc. Elvin Kibet, Spc. Lawi LaLang, all from Fort Carson. Retired Col. Liam Collins coached the team.

(Photo by Brittany Nelson)

“The preparation for the Games has already started,” said Lalang. “Doing a race like this ten miler is a great tempo run. Now I will focus on staying consistent and believing in myself.”

The Army Ten-Miler was established to support Army fitness goals, promote the Army and building esprit de corps. All race proceeds benefit Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation program, which includes All-Army Sports.

The 2019 All-Army Ten Miler team members include: Spc. Michael Biwott from Fort Hood, Maj. Kelly Calway from Fort Jackson, Sgt. Peter Koskey from USAG Humphreys, and WCAP soldiers Spc. Bernard Keter, Spc. Elvin Kibet, Spc. Lawi LaLang, all from Fort Carson. Retired Col. Liam Collins coached the team.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Green Beret tests electric dirt bike

The CAB Motorworks’ Eagle electric bike was designed to maintain efficiency while reducing noise and pollution. Designed to move over any terrain, these bikes come standard with an inverted 8-inch front fork and tuned 9.5-inch rear downhill inspired suspension. The Eagle has the highest power to weight motor on the market but is still able to reach speeds of 50 mph with the use of proprietary cooling techniques. The bike also has over 160 ft-lbs of torque which boosts acceleration. With its state-of-the-art battery technology, the Eagle can go about 100 miles with no pedaling when ridden conservatively at about 20 mph on flat ground. An integrated active braking system, DOT motorcycle wheels and tires, and a comprehensive heat control system are just a few of the other features you will find on the Eagle electric bike.


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videos.recoilweb.com

Mike Glover of FieldCraft Survival put the CAB Motorworks’ Eagle electric bike through the paces in some of Southern California’s hilly terrain. Utilizing trails meant for jeeps and trucks, Glover set out with nothing but a bug out bag and some water. Without even using the pedals, Glover immediately noticed the bike’s ample speed and acceleration. After 45 minutes of hard riding, he put the bike in front of the thermals to see if it displayed an increased thermal signature. Most of the bike showed up as cold compared to the environment, with the hottest spots on the bike being the front brake rotors and the rear hub motor. After about 20 minutes of hard riding, Glover took the bike onto a more aggressive trail with no issues.

In the end, Glover walked away impressed with its capabilities. From the torque to the low noise signature, and handling steep and aggressive terrain with ease, this bike crosses off a lot of boxes from recreation to survival purposes.

This article originally appeared on Recoilweb. Follow @RecoilMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

This sleep strategy will help you reach peak performance

Training for a demanding race like the Army 10-miler requires focus, determination, and solid nine to 10 hours of sleep every night, according to sleep experts at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the Army Office of the Surgeon General. Sleep is one of the three pillars of the Performance Triad, which also includes nutrition and activity.

“Sleep allows our bodies to focus on recovery and restores both our mind and muscles,” said Army Lt. Col. T Scott Burch, Army System for Health Performance Triad sleep lead, OSTG. “Following a particularly strenuous training day, our body may need more time to recover and the good news is that our body will often give us signs that we need additional sleep, so plan go to bed a little earlier following high intensity workouts or post-race.”


Sleep is good recovery for the brain, said Dr. Tom Balkin, a sleep expert and senior scientist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

“Aim for as much sleep as you can possibly squeeze in,” said Balkin. “Seven to eight hours of sleep is average, but more is even better.”

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game
(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Castelan)

Both Balkin and Burch recommend using sleep banking as a strategy to reach peak performance before a strenuous event. Sleeping an extra one to two hours leading up to the race will “bank” extra energy, stamina, and focus.

“Consider this part of your training,” said Balkin. “It’s not something you would do every day in your normal life, but the week before you run a marathon, get all the sleep you can. Think of it like money. The more you get, it doesn’t matter when the money shows up in your bank account. The next day, the money is still in your account.”

It’s the goal of the Performance Triad to enable leaders to set conditions for soldiers to optimize their sleep, activity, and nutrition to improve the overall readiness of the Army, said Col. Hope Williamson-Younce, director of the Army System for Health and deputy chief of staff for public health, Army Office of the Surgeon General.

Failing to optimize sleep can lead to significant reductions in physical and cognitive performance.

“The Army has improved significantly in recognizing that sleep is a key component of a healthy lifestyle and healthy culture,” said Burch. “If your duties are precluding you from optimal sleep talk with your chain of command, encourage them talk to local subject matter experts at Army Wellness Centers and see how they cannot just improve your ability to obtain optimal sleep but how they improve the physical performance of the entire unit, while also reducing injuries and having a higher percentage of soldiers medically ready and prepared for battle.”

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game
(Photo by Lt. Col. John Hall)

At Fort Riley, sleep banking was put into practice by an armored brigade combat unit, said Williamson-Younce. Prior to a weeklong FTX for gunnery tables, soldiers attended a sleep education session and participated in a “reverse PT schedule,” during which the soldiers arrived at 9 a.m. and conducted physical training at 4 p.m. This led to dramatic improvements in their Gunnery Table results. They went from an average score of 756 (qualified) without banking to an average score of 919 (distinguished) with sleep banking.

For people who have difficulty falling asleep, Burch recommends refining basic routines. Have a routine bedtime schedule, wind down the night in a calm manner by warm shower, reading and meditation. Turn off all “screens” at least an hour before bedtime and ensure the bedroom is a cool, relaxing sanctuary for a good night’s rest.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

(Photo by Matthew T Rader)

“There’s a great saying, make time for wellness, or you will be forced to make time for illness,” said Burch. “Sleep is a critical component of our wellness. Often individuals try to manage with reduced sleep; however it comes at the detriment of your physical and cognitive performance.”

The Performance Triad Website, https://p3.amedd.army.mil, has great resources for individuals, said Burch. He also encourages any soldier or family member to contact their local Army Wellness Center, which has excellent personnel and resources for sleep, stress management, nutrition and physical conditioning to help everyone perform their best and reduce risk for musculoskeletal injuries.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

After Action Report #3: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

Stats? Projections? F$%k that noise. Numbers can’t guarantee wins, but being as tough as nails sure helps. As the 2018 NFL Season enters its third week and fantasy football fans continue to debate advanced metrics, the veterans at We Are The Mighty are taking a different approach to finding the best players across the league.

This week, our team of self-declared fair-weather fans scouted the NFL to find the players worthy of serving on one the military’s most elite units: the Army Special Forces — Operational Detachment Alpha, known exclusively as the “A-Team.”

A Special Forces team is full of quiet professionals, each of whom has a set of unique, special skills, ranging from demolitions to weapons to communications. Earning your place on a Special Forces team takes training, time, and a little luck, but it ultimately comes down to one simple question: Can you perform under pressure?


This results-based mentality is exactly the same approach used by NFL players across the league and, in the season’s opening week, five players have distinguished themselves worthy of making the inaugural “A Team Report.” Some earned this distinguished honor by breaking records while others made the list via sheer, viking-level badassery. Either way, all the players on this week’s A-Team Report stepped up when it mattered.

Here are this week’s picks

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

(NFL YouTube)

Tight End Vance McDonald – Pittsburgh Steelers

TE Vance McDonald deployed a mean stiff arm and completes a Touchdown.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

(NFL YouTube)

Wide Receiver Paul Richardson – Washington Redskins

WR Paul Richardson executes a perfect combat roll into the end zone

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

(NFL YouTube)

Quarterback Josh Allen – Buffalo Bills

Rookie QB Josh Allen halo jumps for a Touchdown

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

(NFL YouTube)

Wide Receiver Albert Wilson – Miami Dolphins

WR Albert Wilson blitzkriegs through the Oakland Raiders defense for a 74 yard Touchdown.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

(NFL YouTube)

Defensive End JJ Watt – Houston Texans

DE JJ Watt breaches the Giants O-Line for a sack.

MIGHTY SPORTS

7 great stretches for lower back pain

There’s nothing more debilitating than lower back pain. The grimaces, groans, and feeble feelings one gets from back pain happen because the area is full of nerve endings that react violently to any injury inflicted on them (like a twist while carrying a particularly squirmy kid). If you’ve strained a muscle, there is no real shortcut to healing: You have to rest, ice, and wait it out as your body repairs the microtears. But often, back pain is caused not by tears but by tightness or spasms, and these issues can be addressed through stretching.

These 7 moves are designed to target your lower back. In each case, the stretch should be no deeper than a position you can comfortably hold for at least 30 seconds, and should never be so intense as to cause pain. Slowly ease into each position, and when you reach a point of manageable intensity, focus on breathing in and out deeply for 30 seconds to one minute.


(Photo by Katee Lue)

1. Child’s pose

Funny, isn’t it, that a likely source of your back pain is also the name of the exercise to ease it? To perform this yoga-inspired move, start on all fours. Slowly sink your hips back toward your feet, until your butt touches your heels and your chest is pressed against your quads. Extend your arms in front of you and feel the gentle stretch along your back.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

2. Cradle pose

Turn over onto your back and bend your knees, feet flat on the floor. Raise your feet and bring your knees toward your chest. Wrap your arms over your shins as if you are giving them a big hug. Gently pull your knees in closer to your spine, raising your head so that your back is rounded.

3. Figure 4

Start facing a chair back, table, or sturdy towel rack. Cross your right foot over your left knee, bending your right knee out to the side so that your legs form the shape of the number “4.” Holding the support in front of you, bend your left knee, stick your butt out, and sink into the stretch, rounding your spine and pulling away from the support to deepen the stretch in your lower back. Repeat on the opposite side.

4. Cat pose

Another yoga classic, start this move on all fours. Drop your head toward the floor and round your back, imagining the center of your spine being lift by a string toward the ceiling.

5. Floor twist

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Spread arms out to either side for support. Gently let your knees drop to the right side while you rotate your head and torso to the left. Return to center, repeat the stretch on the opposite side.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

(Photo by Jakari Ward)

6. Chair stretch

Sitting in a chair, cross your right leg over your left. Place your left hand at the outside of your right knee. Gently press against your right knee as you twist your head and torso to the right, letting your legs turn slightly to the left. Return to neutral. Repeat on the opposite side.

7. Runner’s stretch

Sometimes, a tight lower back is exacerbated by even tighter hamstrings. For this stretch, start sitting on the floor, both legs straight in front of you. Turn your right leg out and bend your right knee, sliding your right foot up so it touches the instep of your left knee. Lean forward and grab your left toes with both hands (grasp your left calf if you don’t have the flexibility to reach that far) feeling the stretch down your back. Repeat on the opposite side.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

(Photo by Alexander Mils)

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Army vet proves doctor wrong by achieving ‘the impossible’

Tell her she can’t, she’ll tell you, “Just watch me.”

U.S. Army veteran Twila Adams won the prestigious Spirit of the Games Award at this year’s National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Louisville, Kentucky. The award is given to one wheelchair athlete out of hundreds across the nation, Great Britain and Puerto Rico who exemplifies the heart and soul of the Games through leadership, encouragement and a never-give-up attitude.

But that spirit is not just on display at the Games. Adams’ positive attitude only got stronger since the 1994 car accident that put her in a chair.

“My parents raised me to believe the impossible, and that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. Don’t tell me I can’t. Don’t tell me I won’t. Tell me what’s next and what I have to do, because I’m still here,” she said.


Adams, who gets care at the Salisbury and the Charlie Norwood Augusta VA Medical Centers, served 11 years in the Army, with tours in Korea, Turkey and a deployment to Desert Storm, until road marches and bad knees caught up with her.

But three years after leaving the Army, another vehicle ran a red light as she was turning right.

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

“I swerved and missed her and just bumped another car. I wasn’t even going fast, but I could only move my mouth and eyes. I knew then there was something wrong.

“I heard the doctors telling my parents that I’m paralyzed from the neck down. The prognosis didn’t look good. Doctors kept telling my parents what I couldn’t do, and kept telling me what I couldn’t do.

“I looked at my doctor and said, “I want you to wear a nice tie next time you come in so we have something to talk about and stop telling me what I can’t do and let me work on this.

“I asked all of the people who wanted to visit me to stop visiting. They sit and look at you. Nobody wanted to move my arms and legs. They’re all afraid they are going to hurt me. They’re afraid if they lift my arm, it’s going to flop around.”

The doctor lifted her leg.

She kept it there.

“That’s a spasm,” he said.

“Do you want to do it again?” she asked.

He lifted her leg again. She held it up and moved her foot around.

The woman who doctors said would most likely be paralyzed from the neck down worked hard on her therapy. She can now walk briefly.

“I’m considered a ‘walking quad,’ she said. “I can ambulate. I can kind of wobble and drag my foot. Like most quads, I can’t feel a lot, but do have chronic pain from the neck down, and intense burning and pain in my hands, legs and feet.”

Exclusive interview with ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson: Spurs, service and the Navy-Army game

Yet look at any photos of Adams at the Wheelchair Games and there is either a look of fierce determination or a radiant smile.

“I’m not the hard-charging sergeant I was in the Army. I’m in a new body. I respect my body.”

Discovering the Wheelchair Games in 2002 was a turning point for her.

“I remember going to my spinal cord injury exam and the rec therapist asked me if wanted to go.

“And do what?” Adams asked her.

“You can play 9-ball,” the therapist said.

“From my scooter?!?”

“Yes, and you can play table tennis.”

She did more than that.

“I showed up at that first one and got to the opening ceremony and was blown away. I watched other people compete, doing air rifle, and archery with their teeth. I was amazed. I said, ‘Oh my goodness, my life is about to blow up. I’m about to die having fun.’

“Oh my goodness gracious, life is good. Without my injury, I never would have known about this stuff. I used to say my accident happened to me. By the time I was introduced to the Wheelchair Games, I was asked to go trap shooting. I play billiards in Tampa. At the Wheelchair Games, I do shot put, discus, javelin, air rifle, air pistol, bowling, boccia ball, power lifting. Now I say this did not happen to me, it happened for me. It changed my life.”

When she’s back home, she’s busy playing adaptive tennis at least two hours a day, several days a week.

“I was told I would need a power chair since I’m a quad. I don’t need a power chair,” she said. “I use my own, sports chair. Then I found out about an international adaptive tennis tournament. I was told I can’t go because I couldn’t compete at that level. I said, ‘Well, I’m going.’

“I went and got my butt whupped. But my second match was a doubles. I told my partner, “You get the backhand, I’ll get the forehand,’ and we won the tiebreaker.”

That story makes her recreation therapist, Valerie McNary, laugh out loud.

“She came up to me and said, ‘Val, everybody keeps telling me I can’t do it, but Val, I’m going to do it.’


NVWG: Twila Adams

www.facebook.com

“That’s typical of her,” McNary said. “She doesn’t care. It’s not about the winning. She doesn’t have to win. She wants to live and see other people living their lives. She’s not typical in any fashion or form. Most people don’t have the attitude she had right away. She’s already my spirit of the game every day. She is that spirit every, single day and doesn’t need the title.”

Jen Purser, from the Paralyzed Veterans of America Wheelchair Games leadership team, said Adams “truly embodies the spirit of what the Wheelchair Games are all about — camaraderie, support and perseverance.

“We were thrilled to see her win this year’s award,” Purser said.

But Adams said even with the right attitude, there are days she is like anyone else. It’s not all puppy dog kisses and unicorns.

“You know, we’re all flesh. Rains on me the same as anyone else,” she said. “I get depressed. I get those emotions, but I make a choice. I can say something to myself and motivate something in myself and this will go away.

“Exercise changes my emotions, better than sitting around and watching the news all day. I tell people, ‘Just get up, open the blinds and go outside and see what’s going on. Feel the sun on your skin. Go out and just let the breeze blow on you, and radiate over you, and you will feel good.”

But those Wheelchair Games — that, she said, is real balm for her soul.

“I’m like a kid in the candy store, every year, happy to be alive and hugging necks — even the grumpy ones. It’s about me having that one time a year to connect with people who know what I’m going through. They’re just like me. And if we can inspire the novices and share a little bit of hope, then my injury is not in vain.”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

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