The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SPORTS

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Sporting events are always going to be a central part of the American experience. In the fall, Americans tune in to watch their favorite sports, be it the NFL, MLB, NHL, and even the NBA. Every two years, we come together as a nation to support Team USA in the Winter or Summer Olympics. We even sometimes come together to see the USA compete in World Cup play.


American sports bleed into American life — and vice-versa. From the yellow ribbon tied around the Superdome during Super Bowl XV to remember hostages taken in Iran to chants of “USA” when a crowd in Philadelphia learned about the death of Osama bin Laden, American sports fans and players wear their American hearts on their sleeves.

 1. Team USA carries the WTC flag to the Olympics

Rarely does a flag presentation at the Olympic Games happen to a quiet crowd. But as eight members of Team USA, flanked by members of the NYPD and New York Fire Department, marched the flag of the host country into the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, you could hear a pin drop.

The flag they carried was found in the rubble of ground zero and had flown atop the World Trade Center in New York when the buildings were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. It was under the debris for three days before being found and given to the National Guard.

2. Rulon Gardner defeats the undefeated

For a decade, Aleksandr Karelin was the world’s dominant super heavyweight wrestler. By the time the 2000 Olympics rolled around, Karelin (aka The Russian Bear, aka Aleksandr the Great) hadn’t been defeated in a match since Russia was still called the Soviet Union – even then, that was his only loss. Then, he faced off with a dairy farmer from Wyoming.

In six years, Karelin hadn’t even given up a single point to an opponent. His American opponent, Rulon Gardner, hadn’t placed higher than fifth in the world up until this point and even lost to Karelin, 5-0, before. But Karelin lost his grip — and a point — to Gardner in the second period.

3.  Mary Lou Retton wins a gymnastic first

A little girl from West Virginia dealt a stunning blow to the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. Before Retton, Team USA was never able to wrest Olympic Gold from Eastern Europe in the Individual, All-Around Gymnastics event. She came into the event trailing Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo.

In Retton’s own words, she believes her performance showed that American-born and trained athletes can do anything – no matter what the odds are.

4. 1999 Women’s World Cup Final

The 1999 Women’s World Cup came down to a shootout tie-breaker against the Chinese. With the score tied 0-0 in extra time, the US team would end up winning based on penalties. It wasn’t so much the game play that mattered, it was the draw. With 90,000 spectators, it was the largest turnout for a women’s sporting event ever.

The lasting image of the US win would be Brandi Chastain’s post-penalty kick celebration of the victory, where she fell to her knees and took off her jersey, revealing the “sports bra seen ’round the world.” The image became one of Sport Illustrated most iconic covers ever.

5. Joe Louis knocks out a Nazi

In 1938, Hitler was still touting the Germans as a “master race,” as German athletes competed the world over for top honors. On June 22, Max Schmeling met American champion, the “Brown Bomber” Joe Louis. The first time the two met in 1936, Schmeling took advantage of Louis’ dropping his left hand after a jab and gave Louis his first loss in the 12th round of that fight. That would not happen again.

With the world listening via radio and more than 70,000 watching in Yankee Stadium, Louis unloaded on Schmeling, knocking him down three times in two minutes. Schmeling was only able to throw two punches in the whole one-round match.

6. The Champ lights the Olympic Torch

Lighting the Olympic Flame at the end of the torch relay is an honor reserved for a legendary Olympic athlete from the host country. Does it get more legendary than “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali? Except in 1996, the one who would light the flame itself was a close-kept secret. Even swimmer Janet Evans, who was handing the torch off, didn’t know to whom she was handing it.

Ali was stricken with Parkinson’s Disease and had long since retired by this point. When Ali emerged to take the Olympic Torch and light the flame, the sound in Atlanta was less a roar of applause and more of the collective gasp of elated surprise as the once-great boxer, shaking, lit the torch.

7. Rick Monday saves the flag

Remember MLB outfielder Rick Monday? He might be before most of our readers’ time, but Monday was with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 1981 World Series-winning team. Before that, he was the top prospect in the 1965 MLB draft. Somewhere in between, he saved Old Glory from public humiliation.

In 1976, Monday was with the Chicago Cubs, visiting the Dodgers. With Monday in center field during the fourth inning, two protestors jumped the outfield fence and tried to burn a flag on live TV. Monday, seeing what was about to transpire, ran over and snatched the lighter-fluid-soaked flag. The protestors were arrested and Monday was able to keep the flag.

Ever since that day, Monday used the actual flag to raise money for military families.

8. The President’s Post-9/11 opening pitch 

It’s hard to imagine the Leader of the Free World facing a new Global War on Terrorism being psyched out by throwing the first pitch in Yankee Stadium. But in his own words, he absolutely was. Thousands of New Yorkers came to the stadium to watch the President throw the pitch to open game 3 of the 2001 World Series. It was also just weeks after 9/11.

He didn’t want Americans to think the President was incapable of finding the plate. But as he practiced, Yankee Derek Jeter told him that he needed to both throw from the mound (not in front as originally planned) and not bounce it. “They’ll boo you,” he told the President.

Bush, shaken but loose, walked onto the field and threw a strike to an eruption of applause.

9. ‘The Buckeye Bullet’ burns Hitler

Before he ever arrived in Berlin for the 1936 Olympic Games, Jesse Owens had already set three world records and tied another. At Ohio State, he won eight individual NCAA championships, which was a record in its own right. When he arrived in Berlin, he knew Nazi Germany was using the games as a showcase for its racial policies, but competed anyway.

Owens went on to win four gold medals in 1936, an unrivaled achievement until some 50 years later when Carl Lewis did the same in 1984. When Owens won gold in the long jump, the Olympic Committee told Hitler he had to greet all the winners or none at all. Hitler opted for none. As Owens won other events, Hitler would leave early. Nazi minister Albert Speer would later write that Hitler “was highly annoyed by the series of triumphs by the marvelous colored American runner, Jesse Owens.”

10. The Miracle On Ice

Would you bet money on a bunch of college amateurs taking on the world’s greatest hockey team in a competition for Olympic Gold? Not many would – and not many did, as it turns out. That was the situation Team USA faced in the 1980 Winter Olympics. It was a tough time for the United States, with hostages in Iran, an energy crisis, and runaway inflation, it looked like the American Dream was coming to an end.

But no words echoed through the ages like Al Michaels’ “Do you believe in miracles!” as Team USA topped the Soviet Union 4-3 in one of the biggest upsets in sports history.

MIGHTY SPORTS

It was survival of the fittest at the 2019 CrossFit Games

The sound of cheering carried across the Alliant Energy Center as the top athletes from over 100 countries took the field Aug. 1, 2019, during the 2019 CrossFit Games opening ceremony.

Amongst a sea of U.S. competitors, Lt. Col. Anthony Kurz and Capt. Chandler Smith took it all in as they looked around the crowded North Field. Kurz proudly displayed his Army Special Forces flag as a nod to the Special Forces community. Those cheering included members of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command and Warrior Fitness team who were there to support their teammates and engage with the fitness community.

It took Smith and Kurz years to get to this moment, as they stood ready for the “world’s premier” CrossFit competition. At this level, victory would not come easy, considering each workout would test the limits of their athletic ability and resolve.


Capt. Chandler Smith

Just hours after the opening ceremony, Smith was back on the field for his workout in the men’s individual bracket. He was ranked 40th overall at the start of the games.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Capt. Chandler Smith, a member of the U.S. Warrior Fitness Team, competes in the men’s individual competition at the 2019 CrossFit Games in Madison, Wis., Aug. 1, 2019. During the first workout of the day, Smith placed second overall and moved on to the next round of the competition.

(Photo by Devon L. Suits )

There was a lot at stake during the first cut of the competition. Out of the 143 men participating, only 75 would make it to the next round. The first workout was also designed to be a true test of strength and endurance.

Each competitor would need to complete a 400-meter run, three legless rope climbs, and seven 185-pound squat snatches, in under 20 minutes. The field of competitors would then be ranked based on their overall time. For some athletes, the first workout was more than they could handle.

Smith came out strong and maintained his overall pace. In the end, he took second place — 35 seconds behind the leader, Matthew Fraser.

“I knew my competitors were going to come out fast,” Smith said. “I wanted to stay within that top three. By the third set, I wanted to pick up on my squat snatches. This was a good start for the rest of the weekend.”

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Capt. Chandler Smith, a member of the U.S. Warrior Fitness Team, competes in the men’s individual competition at the 2019 CrossFit Games in Madison, Wis., Aug. 2, 2019. During the fourth round, Smith had to complete a 172-foot sled push, 18 bar muscle-ups, and another 172-foot sled push to the finish line in under six minutes.

(Photo by Devon L. Suits )

Moving into the second cut of the competition, Smith looked loose and determined to continue on his previous success.

Competitors had 10 minutes to complete an 800-meter row, 66 kettlebell jerks, and a 132-foot handstand walk. Like the first round, athletes would be ranked and scored on their overall time.

Smith was not far behind the leader after the first exercise. Sitting in a good position, he moved into the 16-kilogram kettlebell jerks and quickly fell behind after a series of “no-repetition” calls by the judge.

Smith placed 48th overall in the workout and only 50 athletes would move on to compete on day two.

Through it all, he wasn’t overly focused on his position, he said. For the first time in a long time, Smith said he was having fun, and he planned to approach each workout with the same high level of intensity.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Capt. Chandler Smith, a member of the U.S. Warrior Fitness Team, competes in the men’s individual competition at the 2019 CrossFit Games in Madison, Wis., Aug. 2 2019. During the fourth round, Smith had to complete a 172-foot sled push, 18 bar muscle-ups, and another 172-foot sled push to the finish line in under six minutes.

(Photo by Devon L. Suits )

“The experience has been phenomenal because I have been around a lot of folks that stayed positive,” he said. “I have learned so much about what it takes for me to perform at my peak. This will hopefully help me in the future in regards to maximizing [my] performance potential.”

On day two of the competition, Smith competed in three events.

The day started with a 6,000-meter ruck with increasing increments of weight. Competitors then moved to the “sprint couplet” event, where they had to complete a 172-foot sled push, 18 bar muscle-ups, and a second sled push back to the finish line. Smith placed fourth in the ruck and 32nd in the sprint couplet.

The last event of the day took place in the arena, where athletes had 20 minutes to complete as many reps as possible. Each rep included five handstand pushups, 10 pistol squats, and 15 pull-ups. Smith placed 13th in the final workout of the day, landing him a spot in the top 20.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Capt. Chandler Smith, a member of the U.S. Warrior Fitness Team, takes a rest after completing in the first round of the men’s individual competition at the 2019 CrossFit Games in Madison, Wis., Aug. 1, 2019. Smith placed second overall after the first workout and moved on to the next round of the competition.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Dodge)

“I would give my performance a nine out of 10,” he said. “I met my goal of making it to the last day and maintained the right competitive attitude throughout the competition.”

Moving on to day three, Smith had one last workout to try to break into the top 10. During the sprint event, competitors had to complete an out-and-back race across North Field. Upon their return, athletes had to cut through several tight turns before crossing the finish line.

Smith gave his all, but at the end of the workout, he tied for 13th place. Officially cut from the competition, he held his head high as he walked off the field ranked 15th overall.

“I controlled everything I could, and gave my absolute maximum effort on all events,” he said. “I feel like I made significant growth this year. I will try to replicate my training and couple it with my improved mental onset to achieve a better result here at the CrossFit Games next year.”

Overall, Smith is honored to represent himself as both a soldier and an athlete, he said. He feels lucky to represent the force at large, knowing there are so many talented soldiers in the fitness field throughout the Army.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Capt. Chandler Smith, a member of the U.S. Warrior Fitness Team, competes in the men’s individual competition at the 2019 CrossFit Games in Madison, Wis., Aug. 3, 2019. During the sprint event, competitors had to complete an out-and-back race across Field. Upon their return, athletes had to cut through several tight turns before crossing the finish line.

(Photo by Devon L. Suits)

“The biggest lesson I can pass on: keep a positive perspective,” he said. “The nature of the Army means our schedules are unpredictable and constant [athletic] training can be hard to come by.”

Soldiers that learn to work past those scheduling conflicts will have a better respect for their journey, Smith said. In the end, there is always an approach a soldier can take to be successful — they just have to find it.

“Leaders in the Army don’t see problems, they see solutions,” he added.

Lt. Col. Anthony Kurz

The men’s master competition started on day two of the CrossFit Games. Kurz, a Special Forces officer assigned to the Asymmetric Warfare Group at Fort Meade, Maryland, was competing in the 40- to 44-year-old age bracket.

Kurz got into CrossFit shortly after graduating from the Special Forces qualification course. While assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, he received his level-one CrossFit certification and delved deeper into the sport.

Whenever he deployed as an Operational Detachment Alpha, or ODA commander, Kurz and his teammates would often engage in CrossFit-type workouts to keep them fit for the fight, he said.

“In an ODA, everybody is always competitive. We would do our [CrossFit] workout of the day and post them on the board. That healthy rivalry makes you better,” he said.

“We have some phenomenal athletes in the Special Forces community, but they train for something different,” Kurz said. “It was good to represent them [at the CrossFit Games].”

Coming into the Games, Kurz was ranked 4th overall and 1st in the online qualifier. On the floor, he appeared healthy and determined, but behind the scenes, he was quietly recovering from a minor shoulder injury, he said.

During his first timed workout, Kurz completed a 500-meter row and 30 bar-facing burpees. He placed fifth out of 10 athletes in his bracket. Hours later, he was back on the floor for his second event. He maintained an excellent position to move up the ranks.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Lt. Col. Anthony Kurz, a member of the U.S. Army Warrior Fitness Team assigned to the Asymmetric Warfare Group in Fort Meade, Md., competes in the Men’s Masters (40-44) Division at the 2019 CrossFit Games in Madison, Wis., Aug. 3, 2019. During the sandbag triplet event, athletes started with a 90-foot handstand walk, then moved to the air bike to burn 35 calories. They then had to carry a 200-pound sandbag for 90 feet to the finish line.

(Photo by Devon L. Suits)

During the second workout, athletes needed to complete five rounds of exercises. Each set included three rope climbs, 15 front squats, and 60 jump rope “double-unders.”

The combination of upper body exercises exacerbated his pre-existing injury, Kurz said. In frustration, he let out a loud yell during the event as he finished in last place.

“I was only pulling with one arm,” he said. “At this level of competition, if something goes wrong, there is nowhere to hide. It is frustrating, but it was also a great learning experience. Everybody wants to be on top of the podium.”

The final event for the day was a 6,000-meter ruck run with increasing increments of weight after each lap. Kurz placed 5th in the workout.

On day three of the games, Kurz had to complete two workouts. The first event was the sandbag triplet. Athletes started with a 90-foot handstand walk, then moved to the air bike to burn 35 calories. They then had to carry a 200-pound sandbag for 90 feet to the finish line. Kurz placed 7th in the event.

The second event of the day, known as the “down and back chipper,” was the most taxing workout thus far. Kurz had to complete an 800-meter run, 30 handstand pushups, 30 dumbbell thrusters, 30 box jump-overs, and 30 power cleans. Competitors had to then go back through the same exercises, finishing the event with the run.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Lt. Col. Anthony Kurz, a member of the U.S. Army Warrior Fitness Team assigned to the Asymmetric Warfare Group in Fort Meade, Md., competes in the Men’s Masters (40-44) Division at the 2019 CrossFit Games in Madison, Wis., Aug. 3, 2019. During the sandbag triplet event, athletes started with a 90-foot handstand walk, then moved to the air bike to burn 35 calories. They then had to carry a 200-pound sandbag for 90 feet to the finish line.

(Photo by Devon L. Suits)

Kurz set a deliberate pace, knowing the event would depend on how his shoulder fared on the second set of handstand push-ups. On the last 10 reps, fatigue and a series of “no-reps” bogged him down, he said. Time expired while he was on his last 800-meter run, and judges were calling on him to stop. He kept running and crossed the finish line while the event crew was setting up for the next heat.

“I never quit on a workout, and I wasn’t going to start today,” he said. “You have got to take the small victories. I was once told: ‘Persistence is a graded event.’ It is something that has always stuck in my head.”

Kurz laid it all on the line on the final day, submitting two of his best workouts of the competition. During the two-repetition overhead squad workout, Kurz lifted 280 pounds and placed second in the event. Moreover, he took first place in the final workout, known as the “Bicouplet 1.”

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Lt. Col. Anthony Kurz, a member of the U.S. Army Warrior Fitness Team assigned to the Asymmetric Warfare Group in Fort Meade, Md., competes in the Men’s Masters (40-44) Division at the 2019 CrossFit Games in Madison, Wis., Aug. 3, 2019. During his second event, Kurz had to complete three rope climbs 15 front squats, and 60 double-unders over five rounds for time.

(Photo by Devon L. Suits)

Kurz placed 9th overall.

“I’m glad I was able to fight back on the last day and go out with an event win. Looking back, 9th isn’t what I expected, but I’m proud of my performance,” he said. “I think I turned in the best performance possible given the limits of my body.”

“We always say that in combat you can have the best plan, but the enemy always gets a vote on how things go. This is no different. I had solid plans going into the WODs, made the right adjustments on the fly, and pushed through the adversity. I capped it all off with an event win — I’ll take it.”

In the end, Kurz was proud to represent the Army and the Special Forces community, he said.

“As I look back at my old [Special Forces] team and I feel like many of them could have done the same thing if given the opportunity and the time to train,” he said. “I feel very lucky. My life led me in a certain way, and I was able to take all this time to get to this level.

“I’m super stoked that people are still excited, given how the weekend has gone for me,” he added. “It has been frustrating and humbling. Even though there were setbacks, I gave everything I had and I’m walking away with my head high.”

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

US Air Force Thunderbirds will perform Super Bowl flyover

The United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron Thunderbirds are scheduled to conduct a flyover during the national anthem performance at Super Bowl LIII, Feb. 3, 2019, over Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta.

“Supporting this event is a tremendous honor for the team and the U.S. Air Force,” said Lt. Col. John Caldwell, Thunderbirds commander and leader. “We look forward to showcasing the pride, precision and professionalism of our nation’s 660,000 Total Force airmen to football fans around the world.”


The Thunderbirds’ flyover, its first public event in 2019, will feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons, soaring over the Mercedes-Benz Stadium at the moment the final notes of The Star Spangled Banner are sung. They will take off for the Super Bowl LIII flyover from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Marietta, Georgia.

Super Bowl 51 2017 USAF Thunderbirds Flyby Compilation NRG Stadium Houston Texas

www.youtube.com

The Thunderbirds last flew over the Super Bowl in 2017 at the NRG Stadium, Houston.

The Thunderbirds’ team is composed of eight pilots, four support officers, 120 enlisted airmen and three civilians serving in 28 Air Force job specialties. In 2019, the Thunderbirds are scheduled to perform at 65 air shows in 33 different locations all over the world.

Since the unit’s inception in 1953, more than 300 million people in all 50 states and 60 countries have witnessed the distinctive red, white and blue jets in thousands of official aerial demonstrations.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Here are 7 steps to six-pack abs

Let’s be real: Six-pack abs are a pretty dumb fitness goal. First and foremost, having a stomach that has ridges is not a barometer of health. In fact, in many ways it is quite the opposite. To have six-pack abs you need to have somewhere around the order of 6% body fat. Sounds good, right? Not exactly. Extremely low body fat (that’s below 5%) can put a strain on the system, causing testosterone to drop, the immune system to struggle, brain fog, splotchy skin… the list goes on. In other words, this is a vanity goal.

So you still want to give one a go? We get it, that six-pack is aesthetically pleasing and make anyone look damn good in a swimsuit. But be prepared to work for it. There is a very high bar you’ll need to hit repeatedly for workout dedication and dietary discipline.


So the first step to a six-pack is watching what you eat, and sticking to lean meats, vegetables, and cutting out all sweets and most carbs. The second step is committing to an intense ab-focused strength-training routine — not the twice a week deal you do now, but three to four times a week, with determination and focus — to see your abs transform themselves. The good news: Many of the moves don’t require machines or extra weights, so you can do them in the convenience of your own home.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

(Photo by Alora Griffiths)

The final ingredient to building your six-pack is a solid dose of daily cardio. Developing your overall fitness will help train your body to use energy more efficiently, and teach it to start torching calories the minute you begin to move. And that’s key because you can have the strongest abdominals in the world, but if they’re covered with a layer of fat, you’ll never see them.

Follow this 7-point checklist to take your six-pack fantasy one step closer to reality.

1. Eat less fat, and more protein.

Protein helps your body build muscle and recover from tough workouts. It also has the highest thermogenic property of the various food categories (carbs, fat, etc), meaning pound per pound it requires more energy to burn, helping you lose weight faster.

2. Count your calories.

Yes, your meals should be filled with high-quality nutrients and low on processed crap. But at some point, a calorie is a calorie, and to lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you expend. The average guy needs about 2,500 calories to maintain his weight. Shoot for 200 less than that a day to help hit your target safely. (For easy reference, that means cutting out the bowl of chips before dinner, or skipping dessert.)

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

(Photo by Chris Lawton)

3. Pick exercises that hit multiple muscle groups.

Crunches and sit-ups have their place, but exercises that involve multiple muscle groups give you more bang for your buck. Two of the best ones, which should be performed to the point of temporary muscle failure (i.e., you cannot do another rep), are planks and reverse crunches.

Plank: Start lying face-down on the floor, torso propped up on your elbows. Engaging your core, raise your body up onto your forearms and toes, making sure your body forms one long line from shoulders to feet. Hold this position as long as you can, working your way up to 90 seconds.

Reverse crunches: Lie on the floor on your back, knees bent at 90 degree, feet raised several inches off the ground. Contract your abs and hike hips off the floor, keeping your spine rounded. Raise knees high toward the ceiling. Relax and repeat as many times as you can.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

(Photo by Julia Ballew)

4. Make your cardio workouts more intense (and shorter).

Cardio is an essential component to getting your six-pack, because it speeds up the weight-loss process. Despite what you’ve probably read about moderate intensity cardio being the best method for burning fat (which is true), the fastest way to achieve overall calorie burn is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), which goes like this: 60 seconds of biking, rowing or sprinting as hard as you can, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat 10 times.

5. Hanging leg raises. 

Don’t be fooled by its name — hanging leg raises are one of the best abdominal workouts you can do. The move works those deep, lower abdominal muscles that basic exercises like crunches miss. Start by hanging from a bar, legs straight. Engage your core and raise both legs straight in front of you (if this is your first time, it’s likely you will not be able to lift them very high — that’s OK). Repeat until failure.

6. Prioritize hydration.

It’s true, all the water in the world isn’t going to make your abs pop overnight. But it’s also true that drinking at least 8 glasses of water (or other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages) a day helps boost your energy levels so you can commit to your next workout. It also helps prevent water retention, which can give your gut a bloated appearance.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

(Photo by henri meilhac)

7. Vary your routine.

Even though you’ll need to do some ab-specific exercises along with general strength and cardio work, you’ll see better results if you alternate the moves you do, as each one works the abdominals in a slightly different way. A few to add to your repertoire:

Pronated Leg Raises: Lie flat on your back, legs straight, hand tucked beneath your lower spine for support. Engage your abs and raise legs to about 45 degrees. Lower. Do 10 times.

V-Hold: Sit on floor, knees bent, hand tucked under your knees. Engage your core and slowly raise your feet off the floor several inches. Once you find your balance, extend your legs in front of you, creating a V-shape with your body. Hold 60 seconds.

Bicycle: This favorite of aerobic classes everywhere gets your heart rate up with working your obliques. Start on your back, knees bent, hands behind your head. Raise your head and feet off the floor and begin cycling your legs back and forth as it you re riding a bike. Bring opposite elbow to knee as you go. Do 60 seconds, rest 20 seconds, and go again.

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

7 barbell moves you need to get strong

You’ve seen those dedicated men at the gym, twisting and manipulating that long tube of steel like cheerleaders with their batons. They can perform countless moves with endless permutations and seem to be practicing at all hours. There’s not a dad bod among them. Likely, this is not you. And that’s totally fine, because in reality, despite the variations and combinations of moves one can do with a barbell, there are really just 7 that you need to know for the kind of functional strength you need. You might not walk away with big arms or six-pack abs, but you will be fit and spry — which is all you really need.


1. Barbell curls

Hold the barbell with both hands, palms facing forward, spaced about shoulder-width apart, arms straight. Exhale, bend elbows, and raise the bar to your chest. Inhale and release. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Pro tip: For maximum biceps engagement, keep your wrists still and elbows tucked at your sides while performing the curl.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

(Photo by Victor Freitas)

2. Barbell row

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your legs and back straight, bend forward and grab the barbell with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart. Raise your chest slightly to lift barbell an inch off the floor (arms still straight). From this starting position, squeeze your shoulder blades together, bend elbows, and raise the barbell to your chest. Release. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Pro tip: Initiate the movement by pulling your shoulders back, keeping the motion smooth. If you have to use a “bouncing” motion to raise the bar, it means the weight is too heavy; go down 10 pounds.

3. Barbell squat

Using a squat rack, place the barbell at chest height. Step under it, feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out. Center the bar on your shoulders and grasp it with both hands shoulder-width apart. Straighten your legs to lift the bar out of its hold and take a small step back. Driving your heels into the floor, bend your knees, and imagine that you are sitting back in a chair. Counteract the backward movement of your hips with a slight hinge forward with your chest, keeping your back straight. Squat until thighs are parallel to the floor. Squeeze glutes and engage your hamstrings to return to standing. Do 2 sets of 10.

Pro tip: Always maintain control of the movement; only lower to a comfortable position. Be sure to place the safety catch at knee height before you begin, in case you need it!

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

(Photo by Brad Neathery)

4. Barbell upright row

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms straight, barbell grasped in front of you with both hands shoulder-width apart. Engaging your core to keep your back straight, bend elbows and raise the bar to high-chest height. (Your elbows will bend out to the side and upward.) Release. Do 3 sets of 10.

Pro tip: To avoid excess neck strain, focus on keeping your neck long and relaxed as you raise the bar.

5. Barbell hip thrust

Lie on your back on a bench, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Place the barbell across your lap, directly over your hips. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, squeeze your glutes and thrust your hips skyward, lifting the bar as you do (place your hands lightly on the bar to hold it in place). Inhale and release. Do 2 sets, 8 reps.

Pro tip: If you have a slim build, wrap hand towels (or a padded barbell collar) around the bar at the spot where it comes in contact with your hipbones.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

(Photo by Alora Griffiths)

6. Barbell deadlift

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart in front of the barbell. Hinge forward at the waist, keeping your back straight, and grasp the barbell with hands shoulder-width apart. Softly bend knees, then straighten in one definitive motion, raising your torso up along with the bar, keeping arms straight, until you return to an upright position. Lower the bar back to the floor, keeping your back straight. Do 3 sets and 10 reps.

Pro tip: Keep your head facing forward and gaze slightly higher than eye level for the duration of the exercise to ensure proper alignment.

7. Barbell shrugs

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, barbell grasped in front of you with both hands in an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your arms straight, scrunch your shoulders up toward your ears as high as they will go. Hold for a second, then release. Do 3 sets of 10.

Pro tip: To give your pectorals and deltoids a proper workout, avoid bending your arms and engaging your biceps to raise the bar.

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

Army vet finds brotherhood through competition

1:23 a.m. It’s pitch black in Ramadi, Iraq, except for the cold moon above.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Major and his squad creep silently closer.

The enemy has already killed and maimed American troops with roadside bombs. Intel says the largest cache of explosives is right here. Major is part of the late-night raid to bring them down. This is where he wants to be.

“I was a junior in high school when the Towers were hit. I knew I wanted to do something then. And when it came time to choose college or something else, I wanted to get my hands dirty. It all stemmed from the Towers. I wanted to do my part.”

He’s in the desert as part of a light infantry unit. As he and his team get closer, the insurgents wait.


“We were two or three blocks away and I watched two squads cross that intersection,” he says.

He’s only a couple feet away now.

“I took like five steps … “

Major steps down with his right leg.

The enemy pushes the remote control.

The bomb explodes with a deafening roar, and fills the air with a lethal mix of fire and shrapnel.

“I was awake for the whole thing,” he said. “I remember going up and facing the stars.”

Major, 22, is blown up and over a steel gate and six-foot concrete wall.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Ryan Major loves rugby because it’s loud, fast and has lots of crashes. He is hoping for gold at this year’s National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

His team, many with shrapnel injuries themselves, jump into their armored Bradley Fighting Vehicle, smash through the concrete and rush him back to the base camp.

“My guy, he had me laying on the floor and he is covering my leg. I’m losing blood like crazy. Trying to go to sleep. He smacks the p— out of me a couple times. I knew I was in a bad situation.”

“Read me my Last Rites. Tell my mom I love her,” Major says to his soldier.

“No! Wake your b— ass up! I’m not telling her anything! You’re telling her!”

They make it back to base.

“The surgeons and the doctors, they did their thing. Then they induced me into a coma.”

Doctors cut off his right leg and right thumb in Iraq. An infection while he was still in the coma took his left leg, two fingers on his right hand, his thumb on his left, part of his elbow and forearm.

Major wakes up six weeks later, December 26, in a hospital room inside Walter Reed.

And his nine years of dark depression begins.

Thirteen years after waking up in that hospital room, Major is one of the most vocal and energetic competitors at the 39th Annual National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Louisville, Kentucky, with quad rugby his favorite sport because it’s loud, it’s fast and there’re lots of crashes and smack talk.

“Hey, it’s sports. I’m a competitor. I was competing in the military. I’m competing still. It’s fast and I like to go fast.”

Major whips around with a white ball in his hand. A wheelchair cracks into him from behind and throws him from the chair and to the ground. He gets helped back in and shakes it off. Another chair crashes into him from the side as Major smacks down on his wheel into a backspin and then scores.

He crosses his arms, leans back his head and howls to the rafters.

“WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

He makes it look easy, but it wasn’t always this way.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Ryan Major races down the court on the way to a score.

“Dude, it was rough,” he said. “So rough, and I was in a really dark spot. A deep, weird depression. It was a lot of self-doubt and being hard on myself. It’s typical, going from a 100 percent independent man, having to depend on everybody for everything. That took a really big shot to my pride.

“It took me so long. I don’t have my legs. I can’t play football or anything I used to do and love. I used to play football. I wrestled. I did track and field. Now I can’t do any of that.”

Days turned into weeks, months and years.

His mom, Lorrie Knight-Major, said she and his brothers — Michael and Milan — along with Ryan’s friends, rallied to do whatever needed done.

“I credit his brothers, his family and his amazing friends who have been there all the way for him, and for all of us,” Knight-Major said. “To this day, he has a great support system. I wished every veteran and every person recovering had that kind of love.”

Corey Fick, Ryan’s best friend since the 6th grade, visited him almost every day in the hospital and made him get out and about.

“Everybody was crying when we found out he got hurt, but he is a soldier through and through,” Fick said. “He is a soldier through and through, and whatever his cause, he’ll die for it. There’s no fight he’s not going to win. I think he had a 4 percent chance of making it out of Ramadi alive.

“If this happened to anyone but Ryan, I don’t think they could do what he is doing. He has no fear and is living life to the fullest.”

As Major watched others in a wheelchair living their lives, that’s when he knew he had to do it, too.

“I’m watching other vets in my situation who had been hurt for a few years. They’re walking and talking and out having fun and I’m overhearing them. Why am I moping around when you got other amputees going out and having the time of their life?

“It was time for me to get my ass out of this bed and start getting active.”

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Besides quad rugby, you can find Ryan Major kayaking and even skiing.

The first thing he did was the Hope and Possibilities handcycle race around Central Park.

“You hear people cheering you and that started to boost me back, but it was easy. I went back to my therapist and said, ‘What’s next?'”

“There’s an Army 10-miler,” the therapist said.

He did it and wanted more. So he did the New York Marathon — 26.2 miles on a hand cycle.

“I went from a 5K to a 10-miler to a marathon all in a year,” Major said. “The best part of a marathon, is all the fans on the side, yelling at you and telling you you’re doing awesome. The worst part of a marathon, in my opinion, are those last two miles. Those last two miles were the longest two miles ever.

“I was hurting bad. My fingers were cramped and locked in place. But I crossed that finish line and said, ‘God, I am a freaking trooper. I am the biggest bad ass in this whole, entire race!”

He hasn’t stopped since.

“I found out I can still do sports. I didn’t ski before I was injured. I had my first skiing experience in Colorado and didn’t anticipate liking that. They had me going down that mountain fast and I fell in love with it. I’m kayaking. I’ll do anything.”

Besides rugby, Major is competing in javelin, table tennis and even bowling this year.

“But I want that gold in rugby,” he said. “That’s the goal. Haven’t gotten it yet. Got close and made it to the final round once. I’ll get it.”

“I am so very proud of him,” his mom said. “I am amazed at the adversity he had to overcome. Ryan has always been a fighter. He wakes up every morning happy, and makes the most out of each day of his life.”

He sometimes thinks back on that day when everything changed, but doesn’t stay in that place too long.

“Those thoughts creep in my head every once in awhile. The what ifs, the woulda, coulda thing. Those are never good,” he said. “There are positives and negatives to every situation. If I wouldn’t have joined the military, wouldn’t have met my brothers in arms, who are a huge part of my life. I never would have had that experience. I never would have traveled. I never would have had those life experiences.

“I still keep in touch with those guys from Walter Reed and with some of the staff. All these years back, and we still talk.”

It’s that brotherhood, he said, that makes these Games so important.

“I like to be loud out there and have fun. Other vets look at me and that makes them proud. They say it inspires them. Well, they inspire me.”

Major just has one request if you see him on the street. Don’t call him disabled.

“I’m an athlete. And I hope when they look at me, they think I’m a good athlete. That’s what they can call me.”

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

The NFL’s most generous legend gives homeless veterans a new life

1977 was a big year for Chicago’s Walter Payton. After two years in the NFL, he was the league’s leading rusher and was selected to play in the 1977 Pro Bowl, where he was named the Pro Bowl MVP. His on-the-field performance turned the struggling Bears franchise around, but his off-the-field performance would earn him the NFL’s Man of the Year Award, an honor that would later bear his name.


Throughout his 13-year career, Payton was an exceptional member of his team, the example by which all team members should follow – in any kind of group, setting, or sport. He only missed one game in that entire span and, despite being the league’s premier running back, he was able to do anything the team asked of him, throwing eight touchdown passes and even setting a game rushing record with a 101-degree fever.

Heck, he wanted to kick,” Bears Head Coach Mike Ditka told ESPN. “We wouldn’t let him kick.”
The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

“Never Die Easy” was Walter Payton’s motto.

(NFL)

But it wasn’t his football performance that prompted the NFL to name its prestigious award after him. What he did in his spare time left a legacy of humanitarianism and generosity that prompts NFL players to use their high earnings to good works within their local communities to this day.

As a young black man in Mississippi, Payton helped integrate his local high school and its football team. From there, he would go on to play at tiny Jackson State University, but his determination at running back caught the NFL’s eye, earning him his spot in the 1975 NFL draft. He didn’t make waves in his first season with the Bears, but he would soon be one Chicago’s — and professional football’s — most legendary athletes.

He founded the Walter Connie Payton Foundation to give back to the city that gave him so much. Though Payton died of a rare liver disorder that led to bile duct cancer, his legacy lives on through his foundation.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Walter Payton with beneficiaries of his foundation’s support.

What began as an effort to help Chicago’s children now includes Chicago’s homeless veteran population. The foundation works with the Northlake, Ill. Concord Place Assisted Living Community in providing veterans with everything they need to live with dignity and pride.

Concord Place Assisted Living is a 55-and-older community, but homeless veterans can live there thanks to Walter and Connie Payton’s foundation. The new homes include food, health care, and physical activities. It keeps them off the cold streets of Chicago while offering them a chance to build new lives. The project is so close to the foundation’s heart that 100 percent of donations for vets will go to the project.

The foundation is now run by Payton’s widow, Connie, to whom he was married for 23 years.

I had no idea how many veterans had no place to go,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “They serve us knowing there might be a chance that they’ll never come home. … I wanted to find a way to do something to help.”

They turned the entire 15th floor of the assisted living community into veteran housing. A mere ,500 funds a room for a vet, complete with bed, TV, food, health care – the works. Once the 15th floor was filled, they started on the 14th. The foundation continues to fund the rooms using its other charitable works.

[Walter] was a kind, genuine person, and the foundation was important to him,” Payton said. “We always felt that when you’ve been blessed, why not learn to give back to other people and bless them, and hopefully someday they can bless someone else.
The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Walter and Connie Payton Foundation President Connie Payton oversee the renovation of the Northlake, Ill. Concord Place Assisted Living Community.

(WLS ABC 7 Chicago)

Today, the NFL’s Man of the Year Award is named for Payton, honoring players who display Walter Payton-level excellence in every aspect of their lives. The award for 2017 went to the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt, an outstanding defender who raised million for those in Houston affected by Hurricane Harvey.

The frontrunners for the 2018 award are the Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph, the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, and Robbie Gould of the San Francisco 49ers.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Why you should play sports if you want to be a fighter pilot

Looking back, sports prepared me for flying fighters more than anything else. You develop thick skin playing sports—you learn how to lose, how to accept criticism, how to prepare, how to handle pressure; you grow you in a way that’s difficult to find outside of sports. Different sports teach different attributes, particularly team versus individual ones, but they all have parallels to what we do in the air.

Team sports, as the name implies, teach teamwork—you learn how to work together to build trust. As a group, you must come together to accomplish a shared vision; often with people who come from completely different backgrounds. It is a complex, messy process that doesn’t have a set formula. I played baseball, all the way from t-ball throughout high school and each year we would try to build a cohesive, effective team—failing as often as we succeeded. It was practice though. By the time I got to my first fighter squadron, I had been a part of probably 30 teams. It was easier to integrate, find my role, and start contributing than if I hadn’t had my sports background.

fighter pilot
You may be alone in the cockpit, but teamwork is still essential.

Another attribute I learned is situational leadership. As my skill and experience grew relative to the team I was on, my leadership style had to change. As a freshman in high school and one of the weaker players, my job was to shut up, work hard, and do the jobs the other players didn’t want to do. By the time I was a senior, I was one of the better players and a captain on the team. Part of my job was to hold people accountable, which meant being more assertive.

As a fighter pilot, after you spend four years becoming an officer, two years in pilot training, and a year learning to fly your fighter, you’ll show up to your first squadron and your primary job will be to stock the snack bar. Just like the new freshman on a sports team, the best thing you can do is shut up, learn your job, and volunteer for the tasks no-one else wants to do. As your skill and experience grow relative to the other pilots, your leadership style will have to evolve. 

Preparation is another trait I learned. Similar to being a fighter pilot, in sports the vast majority of your time is spent training. While boxing at the Air Force Academy, we would spend hours each day preparing for a six-minute fight. The training, in most cases, lagged the results, often by months. If you didn’t wake up at 5AM for your daily morning run, no-one would know until fight day when you were exhausted by the time you got to the third round.

fighter pilot
(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Griffin)

Flying fighters is similar. We train for years before we go into combat. As a multi-role, single seat fighter pilot, there is always something you could be better at. The learning never stops. We have thousands of pages of tactics to memorize and with closure rates averaging a mile every three-seconds, it has to be instinctive by the time you get to combat. 

The most important attribute sports taught me was mental toughness—how to thrive in a high pressure environment. As a boxer you’re in the ring alone. No-one else can help you. If you’re distracted and having a bad day, you can get hurt. Leading up to the fight, you know there is an opponent working his hardest to knock you out in front of your friends and family.

At the Air Force Academy, we would have sports psychologists from the Olympic training center make the 15 minute drive to work with us. They taught us visualization, positive self-talk, and how to stay in the present moment. While the stakes are much higher now—we not only have our own lives to worry about, but our wingmen, other airborne assets, and the troops on the ground—I still find myself using what they taught me on a daily basis.

Sports are a training ground for your mind and body. They allow you to grow in a simplistic environment, under pressure, with short feedback cycles. You learn that through deliberate practice you will improve. Having had a chance to instruct many F-16 and F-35 pilots, the better ones usually have a sports background. It doesn’t matter if they were a star, or if they only played in high school—the important thing is they have the tools to get better each flight while contributing to the squadron. 

Make sure to check out Justin Lee’s podcast, The Professionals Playbook!

Feature image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY SPORTS

This defensive guard became a soldier after winning a Super Bowl

On Feb. 6, 2011, you could find Daryn Colledge celebrating alongside his teammates.

His team, the Green Bay Packers, had just defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25, winning Super Bowl XLV. It was his final season with the Packers.

The offensive guard has since become a different kind of guard.

In March 2016, after nine seasons in the NFL (with the Packers, Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins), Colledge enlisted in the Army National Guard.


He found that being a soldier would afford him the hands-on, active, team environment he was used to … and craved.

Now, you can find him on the back of a HH-60M Blackhawk Helicopter assisting combat medical specialists in transporting patients to safety.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Spc. Daryn Colledge, a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter repairer, assigned to 1st Battalion, 130th Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance Battalion), Task Force Panther, of the Idaho National Guard, assigned to 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), awaits take off for a training flight at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan July 28, 2018.

(Photo by Sgt. Steven E. Lopez)

Spc. Daryn Colledge, a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter repairer, assigned to 1st Battalion, 130th Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance Battalion), Task Force Panther, of the Idaho National Guard, volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan as part of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. He serves as part of a medical evacuation crew — a mission that goes into harm’s way to save complete strangers when called upon, while on an airframe with no weapon systems.

“I wanted this mission, because I believe in this mission,” said Colledge. “I wanted to be a part of the mission that might get those unfortunate injured ones back home, help save lives and help bring some of them back to their families.”

Many things influenced Colledge’s decision to join the Idaho National Guard, such as his family’s military past and a brother who currently serves.

Colledge stated that the National Guard provided the opportunities he sought after while serving. His passion for aviation drove him to choose to become a blackhawk helicopter repairer.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Spc. Daryn Colledge, a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter repairer, assigned to 1st Battalion, 130th Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance Battalion), Task Force Panther, of the Idaho National Guard, assigned to 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), prepares for a training flight at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan July 28, 2018.

(Photo by Sgt. Steven E. Lopez)

“Joining the Army National Guard was a two part choice,” said Colledge. “First, I wanted to remain in Boise, Idaho, and second as a private pilot in my civilian life, I wanted to continue to fly in my Army career.”

After multiple flights and several qualification tests, he later became a blackhawk crew chief; a job with more responsibilities yet filled with excitement and new opportunities for Colledge.

“I could have gone the Army pilot route, but the crew chief side is too interesting for me,” said Colledge. “Crew chiefs have the chance to wear so many hats; mechanic, door gunner, assistant to the medics, conduct hoist operations and sling load operations. The constant change is a great challenge and keeps you working and honing your skills.”

As a blackhawk crew chief, Colledge was presented with the opportunity to join a medical evacuation crew while on a deployment to Afghanistan.

“His desire to serve was clear,” said Capt. Robert Rose, Company G, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, Forward Support Medical Platoon Leader MEDEVAC Detachment Officer in Charge. “His intent was never to seek glory through our mission, but rather to be in a position to help others.”

Colledge joined the MEDEVAC crew and rapidly became someone to emulate because of the teamwork and motivation he brought along with him.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

U.S. Army Spc. Daryn Colledge, 168th Aviation Regiment UH-60 (Blackhawk) Helicopter repair student, practices routine maintenance during class at Fort Eustis, Va., July 28, 2016.

(Photo by Derek Seifert)

“One of things that comes naturally to Colledge is his ability to motivate and inspire others,” said 1st Lt. Morgan Hill, Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th General Support Aviation Battalion (MEDEVAC) / Detachment Commander. “He’s a team player and thrives on working toward a common purpose.”

Colledge not only performed his duties as a crew chief, but also was able to lead his crewmates by example. As a former professional athlete, Colledge brought the insight of how to maintain optimal physical readiness, which is one of the most important aspects of being a soldier.

“One of his most notable accomplishments, besides his great work as a crew chief, was building a workout program that others in the unit could participate in as a group,” said Hill. “He was able to motivate his peers and superiors alike to stay physically fit and healthy throughout the deployment, even in austere environments, which was huge for maintaining unit morale.”

Colledge emphasized the fact that teamwork in the Army versus teamwork in sports actually tends to have many similarities, especially when it comes to being deployed.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

After nine seasons in the NFL, you can Spc. Daryn Colledge of the Idaho National Guard on the back of a HH-60M Hospital Helicopter assisting combat medical specialists in transporting patients to safety.

(Idaho Army National Guard)

“The close proximity to each other, the bond built over a common goal, the joint struggles, working through things as a team,” said Colledge. “You create a bond, a relationship that you do not share with those who were not there. Those bonds can last a lifetime.”

Although Colledge established himself to be a proficient soldier, crew chief and teammate, at the beginning there might have been some challenges in leading an individual with his unique background.

“Spc. Colledge doesn’t hide his previous career, but he also doesn’t flaunt it,” said Rose. “He is much more humble than I initially imagined when I heard that I would be leading a Super Bowl winning former NFL player.”

“Ultimately, I was more concerned with the fact that he was a competent crew chief who was willing to learn and contribute to the team as a whole,” said Hill. “He never made anything about himself at any time and he always put the unit and its soldiers first.”

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

After nine seasons in the NFL, you can Spc. Daryn Colledge of the Idaho National Guard on the back of a HH-60M Hospital Helicopter assisting combat medical specialists in transporting patients to safety.


From Super Bowl champion to flying in the skies of Afghanistan, Colledge’s journey is a unique experience that some would ponder on the “why,” not having the need to volunteer years of your life to serve your country.

“Selfless service defines who Colledge is, he did not need to enlist,” said Hill. “He chose to serve for no other reason than to serve and give back.”

“Outside of deployment, to help and support the city and state that supported me through my days in college has been a special opportunity for me,” said Colledge. “I would have not been able to pay for college on my own and the chance to give back and serve that same community means the world to me.”

MIGHTY SPORTS

The NFL is learning how to fight as a unit from Special Forces vets

Veterans and military personnel are still understandably frustrated with NFL players kneeling during the national anthem — but that doesn’t mean the league is at odds with the military-veteran community. If the response from our community has taught anything to NFL franchises, it’s that teams have a lot to learn about how veterans and military units come together and operate as a team.


NFL players, for the most part, spend their whole lives training and preparing for the chance to play on Sundays in the fall. But throughout the course of their careers, they may end up playing for a slew of different teams with different objects, different methods, and different goals. No matter which city you’re representing, there’s a lot about football plays that can be related to small-unit tactics on the battlefield. The most important parts of both are to ensure each member of the team follows the plan, follows their orders, and covers their position. Your squad mates are depending on each man to do their part.

So, it makes sense to bring in some of the U.S. military’s finest veterans to show these players how individuals in military units come together to form a cohesive fighting force when the stakes are life and death. That’s where Mission6Zero comes in.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Jason Van Camp served in the U.S. Army’s Special Forces.

(Mission6Zero)

“How can you fight for the guy next to you if you don’t even know who he is?”

Jason Van Camp is the Founder and Chairman of Mission6Zero. He’s also a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who graduated from West Point and played football for the Army’s Black Knights. He founded Mission6Zero to help teams in professional sports, the corporate world, and law enforcement optimize their performance through knowledge — knowledge of themselves, their organization, and their surroundings.

While Mission6Zero isn’t limited to the NFL, the NFL needs Mission6Zero now more than ever — and the Army football player is uniquely situated to address their issues. He put together his own expert team, one that included fellow SF veteran and Seattle Seahawks longsnapper, Nate Boyer.

“When things get really bad, the warfighter is thinking only of his team.”

Van Camp’s organization brings Special Forces veterans, Medal of Honor recipients, wounded warriors, drill instructors, and other exceptional veterans (along with human performance psychologists and behavioral experts) to the fore when dealing with athletic franchises. In their most recent case study, they found it wasn’t just what team members communicated to one another that was important, it was how they communicated that mattered.

Mission6Zero does more than tell war stories and lecture teams on how to be more like a unit. The science behind how members of a unit bond in combat is the same as how members bond on a team. The more you learn about someone, the closer you get to that person. When you start to know everyone on that level, the team becomes the most important part of life.

You will never want to let the team down, but, just as importantly, you know they will never let you down.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Green Beret and Seattle Seahawks player Nate Boyer.

(Mission6Zero)

“The warfighter’s biggest fear is to let down the teammate to his left or right. “

It may seem obvious to a military veteran, but to many athletes and professional sports teams, it’s not so obvious. Through the course of Mission6Zero’s work in the NFL, the organization found instances of teammates who had never spoken to one another – even after the season began.

When Mission6Zero finds that the best predictor of team productivity is how teams communicate outside of the workplace and there are teammates who never talk at all, it’s easy to identify potential problems in an organization. Those “Mandatory Fun” sessions we weren’t so keen on attending while we were in the military were actually one of the most useful training opportunities we could ever have attended.

That’s the science of teambuilding.

MIGHTY SPORTS

This decades-old exercise is still the best bodyweight workout

It’s usually a good rule of thumb for your workout of choice to not give you nostalgic vibes. Jazzersize, step aerobics, the Thighmaster — you might remember these fondly, but you shouldn’t try to bring them back. These fitness fads didn’t actually get people fit because they hit the same muscle groups over and over with an intensity that never varied. Here’s an exception to the rule: Calisthenics, those moves you did on your high school PE test, is worth reviving. Calisthenics offer virtually everything your body needs to grow muscle, boost cardio, and improve your flexibility. And you don’t need an instruction manual to do it.

In a nutshell, calisthenics involves rudimentary fitness activities like hopping, lunging, and stretching. These exercises focus on major muscle groups like biceps and quads, but because they are full-body movements, they also engage secondary muscles for stability and balance, giving you a well-rounded workout.


Calisthenics’ major selling point, its simplicity, can also be its biggest drawback: Too much repetition of the same easy move can be boring. That’s why we’ve put together a plan that lets you mix and match moves to create a whole host of different routines.

The build-your-own calisthenics workout

Choose one move from each category, with a goal of pairing together 4 exercises to create one full circuit, which you will perform three times through for a complete workout.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Angelica I. Annastas)

1. Calisthenic moves for arm strength

Pushups: Drop and give us 30. That’s right, 30.

Pullups: Grabbing the overhead bar with an underhand grip, hoist your body weight skyward until you clear the bar with your head. 10 reps.

Dips: Using a set of parallel bars, place a hand on either bar, palms facing in, and straighten arms until your feet are off the floor and your body is suspended in the air. Bend elbows and lower yourself down toward the floor without touching. Straight arms. Repeat 10 times.

Pulldowns: Lie with your chest directly beneath a bar or table edge. Reach up and grab the bar with an overhand grip, keeping your arms straight and body in a long straight line. Bend elbows and raise your chest toward the bar. Straighten arms back to start. 10 reps.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

2. Calisthenics moves for core strength

Situps: Start the stopwatch. Do as many of this classic gut-buster as you can in 60 seconds, aiming for 40.

Plank: From an extended pushups position, drop so that your elbows are resting on the floor beneath your shoulders. Maintaining one long, straight line from your feet to your head, hold this position for 60 seconds.

Hanging knee lifts: Using a set of parallel bars with elbow rests (wrap a towel around the bars if there is no padding), place a forearm on either bar and rest your weight on it. Lift your feet off the ground and bend your knees, raising them as high to your chest as you can before straightening legs. Do not let your feet touch the floor between reps. 10 reps.

L-shape lifts: Start by hanging from the pullup bar with your arms straight. Engage your core muscles as you lift your legs in unison in front of you, keeping them straight, until they are parallel (or as close as you can get them) to the floor. Release. 6-8 reps.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

3. Calisthenics moves for leg strength

Squats: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend elbows and tuck your hands to your chest as you bend your knees and squat down as if you are about to sit in a low chair. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor. Straight back up to the start. 12 reps.

Lunges: Stand with feet parallel, arms by your sides. Take a large step forward with your right leg, shifting your weight forward and landing with a bent right knee. Let your back left knee bend until it hovers above the floor. Push through your right foot and return to standing tall. Repeat on left side for one complete rep. 12 reps.

Leg raises: Lie with your back on the floor, legs extended. Place your hands by your sides or under the small of your back for support. Engaging your core, raise legs in unison off the floor and directly above your hips, keeping them straight. Lower back to floor. 8 reps.

Wall sit: Stand with your back to a wall. Pressing your back flat against the wall, bend your knees until your legs form a right angle and your thighs are parallel to the floor. (You will need to walk your feet forward about a foot so that your knees are directly over your toes in this position.) Hold for 90 seconds.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Corey Dabney)

4. Calisthenics moves for cardio

Jumping jacks: Feet apart and together, arms overhead each time. Aim for 40 in 60 seconds.

Jump rope: Single bounce, no stopping. 60 seconds.

Burpees: Start in an extended pushup position. Push through your toes, bend your knees, and hop your feet forward so they land close to your hands. Immediately spring up vertically off the floor, arms overhead. When you land, drop back down into a crouch with your hands on the floor, and jump your feet back to the starting pushup position. 20 reps.

Long jump/High jump: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Swing your arms behind you, bend your knees, and propel your body forward as far as you can in a two-leg long jump. Immediately, bend knees deeply and jump as high as you can vertically. Repeat long/high jump sequence 10 times.

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

Want a body like Ryan Reynolds? Dream on. But this workout will Help

Anyone can get in movie-star shape. All it requires is working out every day for two to four hours, skipping carbs, hiring trainers, and having a Hollywood studio foot the bill and then pay handsomely for your time. It’s how Ryan Reynolds and his superhero peers look the way they do on the big screen. That’s not to say their workouts aren’t impressive. They’re typically the kind of upper-body-heavy exercise routines that only someone who does this for a living could finish. Because of this, they’re worth following.

Take the workout that Reynolds was tackling while filming “Deadpool 2.” When he enlisted celebrity trainer Don Saladino to create a routine that would build muscle, add definition, and improve overall fitness, he got what he asked for. Saladino designed a variety of circuit-style workouts that covered most major muscle groups with a focus on the upper body. While he didn’t report how often he worked out, let’s just say he ended up looking like a pretty unrealistic dad of two in the end. Mission accomplished.


What does this have to do with us mere mortals? Well, the workouts Reynolds did are pretty great for full-body strength and agility because (little known fact) Reynolds does a lot of his own stunt moves. But, yeah, it’s too hard. We get that. Which is why we took the principles from one of the sample workouts he shared with Men’s Health, and dumbed it down for us regular dads. Here’s your streamlined version, with moves modified to fit the schedule and skills of everyday dads.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

(Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Warm-up

Reynolds’ version: 15 minutes of stretching, foam rolling, and deep breathing.

Your version: Your time is precious, so you can do this 3 minutes. Stand with feet wide apart. Reach arms overhead, inhale deeply. Exhale and release, bending your knees and allowing your torso to fall forward so that your hands rest on the floor. From here, bend your right knee deeply, shift weight to right side, and move into a side lunge. Hold as you breathe in and out. Shift weight to left side and repeat. Return to center, straighten your back and legs and raise arms out the side. Twist right, then left, five times. Relax — you’re ready to go.

Move #1: Kettlebell swing

This full-body move works your arms, back, glutes, and quads. Start standing with feet hip-width apart. Hold the handle of a kettlebell with both hands, arms straight in front of your body. Bend your knees into a squat, and let the kettlebell drift back between your legs, keeping your back straight. With a single movement, push through your heels and explosively return to a standing position, allowing the kettlebell to swing forward so it reaches chest height as you do. That’s one rep.

Reynolds’ version: 5 reps with as heavy a weight as possible.

Your version: You can nearly keep up here! Make it 3 reps with a 25-pound weight.

Move #2: Front squat

Start standing, feet hip-width apart and toes slightly turned out. Hold a barbell with both hand (palms facing forward and tilted upward) just below your chin. Bend knees and allow your hips to drift back as if you were sitting in a chair. Keep back straight. Aim to get your quads parallel to the floor, but stop lowering as soon as you feel your form begin to slip. Return to standing to complete one rep.

Reynolds’ version: 5 reps with a heavy weight (about 85% of a max load)

Dad’s version: Keep it at 5 reps, but skip the weight altogether and go for air squats. Focus on the form — that’s what really matters here.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

(Flickr / dtstuff9)

Move #3: Bench press

Lie back on a flat bench, holding the barbell above your chest with an overhand grip, arms straight. Keep hands shoulder-width apart. Bend elbows, keeping them close by your sides, and lower bar to chest height, then straighten again.

Reynolds’ version: 5 reps with a weight that is probably more than you can lift, placing hands close together to increase difficulty.

Dad’s version: Let’s go with 3 reps using a weight that’s about 75% of your max load (roughly around 150 if you’re a 200-pound guy, although it’s a wide range). Place hands slightly wider than shoulder-width to help with bar stability — even wider if you’re new-ish to the move.

Move #4: Pull-up

Stand in front of the pull-up bar and grab it with an overhand grip. Keeping your back straight and eyes focused on the wall just above eye level, bend arms as you hoist your chin over the bar, then straighten back down.

Reynolds’ version: 5 reps maintaining a plank position with his body (i.e. board-straight) and fully extending arms with every lowering.

Your version: Stick with the 5 reps, but use an assist. See that resistance band? Tie it around the bar so it creates a long loop. Place your feet inside the loop, allowing band to stretch as you lower your body, then add support as you lift yourself up. Another alternative: Perform reverse pull-ups by gently jumping off the floor to begin in a contracted position, chin above the bar, then feel the burn as you lower yourself down to the floor.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

(Photo by Edgar Chaparro)

Move #5: The carry

Reynolds did various versions of the weighted walk in his workout to prep for “Deadpool 2” — it’s one of the most efficient ways to build overall strength and tone your muscles. You can choose between a suitcase carry (carry dumbbells or kettlebells down by your sides), overhead carry (raise the weight directly over your head, arm straight, doing one arm at a time as you walk), or bottom-up carry (bend your arm at a 90 degree angle in front of you and carry the kettlebell upside-down by its handle so that the weighted endpoints up into the air). In all cases, focus on good form.

Reynolds’ version: 5 reps of 75-foot carries with a weight that is 35-40 pounds.

Your version: Challenge yourself here with 3 reps of 50-foot carries. Still, don’t go too heavy. Start with 25 pounds and work up from there.

Rest and repeat

Reynolds’ Version: No rest for Merc with a Mouth. Do this circuit five times in a row.

Your version. Take 30 seconds between reps and 5 minutes between sets. You’ve earned it. Start by hitting this circuit twice and work your way up from there (capping at four).

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

ROTC cadet sets burpee world record

An Army cadet from Michigan State University recently set a Guinness World Record for the most chest-to-ground burpees completed in 12 hours, an effort that helped him raise more than $7,800 for his nonprofit group for wounded veterans.

4,689. That’s the number of burpees Bryan Abell, a 23-year-old ROTC cadet, accomplished July 7, 2019, in his hometown of Milford, Michigan. His original goal was 4,500, the minimum number required by Guinness to set the record, but Abell kept going when there was time to spare.

Abell’s drive to push forward is rooted in the Army’s core values, he said. Before becoming an ROTC cadet his sophomore year, Abell originally enlisted as a National Guard infantryman in 2015, assigned to the 126th Infantry Regiment for the Michigan National Guard.


“If I wasn’t in the military, I wouldn’t have broken the record,” he said. The Army has taught me “to be proud of what you’re doing and to keep moving forward. I wanted to prove to myself I could do it.”

Abell not only proved it to himself, he proved it to the world.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Cadet Bryan Abell, Michigan State University ROTC, rests during a work out Aug. 16, 2019, at Fort Knox, Ky.

(Photo by Reagan Zimmerman)

Guinness officially certified his record shortly before he started Cadet Summer Training-Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky, last month. CST is a must-pass field training program for cadets and a stepping stone in becoming an officer in the Army.

Training for a world record

No stranger to physical activity, Abell is a veteran of multiple ultra-marathons, often running more than 50 miles through the winding wooded trails of Michigan’s countryside.

At first, Abell planned to vie for the record of “most burpees in an hour,” but after seeing nobody had accomplished the 12-hour record, he changed his mind.

After planning his record setting goal, Abell started a training regimen in his parents’ backyard. He initiated training by doing more than 500 burpees a day and over time he increased his daily total to more than 1,500. During the six weeks he trained, Abell did nearly 33,000 total burpees.

A dirt hole, where Abell trained, formed in the grass of his parents’ backyard. As the hole became deeper, it served as a testament to his will to set the world record. Although Abell was stronger with each passing day, his dad “wasn’t very happy with the hole,” he joked.

Today, the yard is back in the pristine condition his dad generally maintains it at, and the once deep, dirt hole has become a faded memory.

Burpees for a purpose

Milford, a Detroit suburb with a population of more than 6,000, was handpicked by Abell as the location for the world record attempt. The reason was simple — Abell said “it was home,” and he “just wanted to see it in the record books.”

That said, the clerical tasks of setting a world record weren’t as simple. Breaking a record can be a tedious job, he admitted, “It became pretty stressful. I didn’t realize how much time would go into (filling out paperwork).”

In addition, with CST on the horizon, Abell needed to speed up the application and training process. Luckily, Guinness offered two options: 12-week review or a priority, five-day application review. Abell opted for the quicker option.

“I chose the priority option because I didn’t have much time,” Abell said. “I wanted to (attempt the record) before I came to advanced camp. The application came back within five days and basically from there, I had to set a date.”

After establishing the application process, the next step was his favorite part: gunning for the record books.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Cadet Bryan Abell, Michigan State University ROTC, shows off his Guinness World Record plaque at his home in Milford, Michigan.

“I just wanted to do the burpees,” Abell joked.

With hometown pride, the day finally came. From 7:05 a.m. to 7:05 p.m., and only resting periodically, Abell averaged at least six to seven chest-to-ground burpees a minute.

“I could only rest for 20-30 seconds,” said Abell, who also took short restroom breaks during the timed event.

In lieu of a witness from Guinness, Abell took a different route to provide proof of his record. He set up multiple cameras from different angles to watch his proper form, and he had six individuals working two-person, four-hour shifts while he contended for the world record at the Carls Family YMCA.

At least one of the witnesses, at any given time, was required to have a fitness-related certification.

The event was live streamed on social media from his nonprofit organization’s page, Stronger Warrior Foundation, where he also received donations.

A good cause

Stronger Warrior Foundation, officially incorporated in January, is a nonprofit Abell founded with his sister, Katelyn, during his sophomore year in college.

The siblings started “from the ground up”, he said, and their main purpose is to help servicemembers and veterans who have been wounded or have suffered disabilities from combat-related service.

The live streamed, half-day challenge raised more than id=”listicle-2639958942″,300, with more donations generated after he set the world record.

Abell doesn’t plan to give up his record anytime soon.

When asked what he’d do if someone does 5,000 chest-to-ground burpees and breaks it, he laughed and said, “Then I’d have to do 5,001.”

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

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