Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SPORTS

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and USAA have entered into a new sponsorship agreement making USAA the Official Military Appreciation Partner of the SWAC. As part of the agreement, USAA will have exclusive rights in the property and casualty insurance, banking, and life insurance categories. USAA’s sponsorship extends to the SWAC eSports league, and Football and Basketball conferences as the Official Insurance Partner of the SWAC serving military families.
  
“We’re extremely excited to welcome USAA to our family of sponsors,” said SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland. “SWAC member institutions have a long and proud history of providing students with a wide range of educational, professional, and career opportunities within all branches of the United States Armed Forces. Several of our campuses currently offer ROTC programs while also serving as a significant recruiting base for the United States Military as a whole.”
 
As part of the sponsorship agreement, USAA will lead military appreciation efforts, as well as offer career advancement opportunities, extending to both students and alumni.
 
“USAA’s mission to support military and their families comes with the knowledge that the military community reflects the diversity of our own nation,” said Michael Dones, USAA Assistant Vice President, Brand Programs and Sponsorships. “By supporting the SWAC, one of the nation’s premiere HBCU conferences, we are demonstrating our commitment to serve this community, creating memorable military appreciation moments, conducting community outreach, and providing professional development, job and internship opportunities for students and alumni.”
 
“This partnership will have a positive impact on student-athletes who compete in football, basketball and eSports, and all students attending a SWAC member institution,” continued McClelland. “For decades, USAA has unconditionally supported the proud men and women that selflessly serve our country and we’re extremely excited to join those efforts. We look forward to a long and productive partnership.”  


 
About USAA
The USAA family of companies provides insurance, banking, investments, retirement products and advice to nearly 13 million current and former members of the U.S. military and their families. Known for its legendary commitment to its members, USAA is consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee well-being and financial strength. USAA membership is open to all who are serving our nation in the U.S. military or have received a discharge type of Honorable – and their eligible family members. Founded in 1922, USAA is headquartered in San Antonio. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@USAA), or visit usaa.com.
 

About the SWAC
The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) is considered one of the premier HBCU conferences in the country and currently ranks among the elite in the nation in terms of HBCU alumni playing with professional sports teams. 
 
Current championship competition offered by the league includes competition for men in Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Indoor Track and Field, Outdoor Track and Field and Tennis. 
 
Women’s competition is offered in the sports of Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Golf, Indoor Track and Field, Outdoor Track and Field, Soccer, Softball, Tennis and Volleyball. 
 
Follow the SWAC
For complete coverage of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, please follow the SWAC on social media at @TheSWAC (Twitter), @TheSWAC (Facebook), and @TheSWAC (Instagram) or visit the official home of the Southwestern Athletic Conference at www.swac.org.

MIGHTY SPORTS

7 ways to know you’re actually pushing yourself in the gym

You’re showing up and working out, but how do you know if you’re actually pushing yourself hard enough at the gym? If you’re putting the time in, but not seeing or feeling the results of all the hours spent grinding it out on the treadmill or in the weight room, you might be wondering if your effort is enough.

While techie gadgets like fitness trackers and exercise apps can help you stay focused, you sometimes need other ways to gauge your progress. INSIDER asked three fitness experts to share some ways you can tell if you’re pushing yourself hard enough when sweating it out at the gym.


1. You’re breathless during cardio

We all know that cardio workouts should make us sweat, but a better measure of an efficient aerobic workout is your breathing.”

A great way to tell if you’re pushing yourself enough in a cardio workout is if you’re getting breathless during the high-intensity moments,” said Aaptiv master trainer John Thornhill.

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

(Photo by Meghan Holmes)

For instance, Thornhill told INSIDER that at the end of a high-intensity cardio push, if you were having a conversation with another person and you could only say a few words in a breath, you’re pushing yourself appropriately.

However, if you’re new to fitness, he said it’s best not to get breathless too often. Instead, Thornhill recommended working your way up to sustaining mid to high levels of intensity for longer periods of time.

2. You measure the intensity by using the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

One way to gauge intensity while working out, said iFit Trainer Mecayla Froerer, is by Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Using a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the absolute hardest you can work, Froerer told INSIDER that you can take inventory of where you’re at and how you are feeling.

If your workout is supposed to be a HIIT style workout, you’ll want to work in the 8-10 RPE range (anaerobic). Additionally, if your workout is scheduled to be a recovery workout, you’ll want to be in the 1-4 RPE range. Listen to your body and adjust accordingly.

3. You’re seeing and feeling progress

If you’re feeling better, lifting heavier weights, moving faster, or recovering quicker, there’s a good chance you’re pushing yourself in the gym. But if you’re still feeling the same after putting in the time, Thornhill said you can up the intensity by increasing your resistance or weight incrementally, reduce your rest periods between HIIT (high-intensity-interval-training) sets, and increase the number of times you work out during the week.

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

(Photo by Scott Webb)

4. You’re experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness

Delayed onset muscle soreness can happen after an intense workout. In other words, Thornhill said you know you’ve pushed the limits if your quads and calves are sore after a run, or your biceps are sore after a rigorous set of bicep curls.

“Tiny microscopic tears will develop in those muscles (don’t freak out, it’s totally normal) and your muscles will repair themselves and get stronger as you rest and recover,” he explained.

5. You feel some level of discomfort while working out

Strong effort and some discomfort go hand and hand, explained Tony Carvajal, certified CrossFit trainer with RSP Nutrition. He told INSIDER that you generally want to feel some level of discomfort (even minor) and pushing hard through a workout will cause that exact feeling.

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

(Photo by Danielle Cerullo)

“Pushing hard will create more ATP, your body will need extra oxygen, and so breathing increases and your heart starts pumping more blood to your muscles,” he explained.

As the heart rate spikes and the body requires more oxygen, Carvajal said lactic acid starts to flow through the muscles, mainly in the legs and arms. “That’s what is usually described as the ‘burn’ and is exactly what you should be reaching for,” he added.

6. You’re thinking about the reward

If you exercise on autopilot, there’s a good chance you’re not thinking about your “why,” which often leads to a lack of effort and disappointing results in the gym. That’s why Carvajal said to remind yourself before, during, and after the workout “why” you’re doing this — what is your reward?

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

(Photo by Victor Freitas)

“You may find it beneficial to have a mental or even physical picture of your reasons for working out hard, and focusing on this will help you to push through even when it’s tough,” he explained.

7. You’re excited to exercise

It’s normal to have days when you want to skip the gym. But if you’re coming up with excuses and finding reasons to ditch your workouts, you might actually be bored.

Hitting a plateau in your exercise routine can lead to a decrease in your fitness level and a lack of motivation to push yourself when you are working out. Consider hiring a trainer or taking a fitness class. Having an expert guide you through your workouts can help to ensure that you’re actually pushing yourself hard enough.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Men’s Soccer — Lehigh at Army West Point (9/22/18 – 7:00PM EST)

This Saturday, Lehigh travels to travels to West Point, New York to take the field against Army at Malek Stadium. Both teams currently sport a record of 3-3-1, but Lehigh has proven deadly on the road, stealing a victory in three of their four matches. Army, on the other hand, has yet to record a win on their home field.


Watch the game LIVE this Saturday, September 22nd, at 7:00PM EST to see if Army can rally from their loss at Fairfield and bring a victory home to West Point.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Soothe sore muscles with these 7 foam-rolling moves

You stretch, you warm-up, you ice, you even take Epsom-salt baths (OK, just that one time). But if you really want to take care of your sore muscles, in addition to all that you should learn about the benefits of foam rolling. The foam roller is a small device that can provide relief from existing muscle soreness when you get in the habit of using it to put pressure on your muscles. There’s no better way to help prevent future pain after, say, a particularly serious kettlebell workout.

Foam rolling is what exercise experts refer to as “self-myofascial release,” a fancy way of saying that you use your own body weight to apply pressure to muscle tissues (fascia), thereby releasing tension. The benefits of foam rolling are twofold: First, it helps muscles relax so there is less tension on tendons and bones in your body. Second, it increases your mobility and range of motion, thereby lowering your risk of straining a muscle when you do something like lunge for a soccer ball or your son’s runaway tricycle.


Designed to imitate the experience of getting a massage, the foam roller has been shown to decrease the dreaded delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that occurs after a hard workout. But to reap the benefits, you have to know which moves to do — and how to do them right.

Start with the 7 moves here. In each case, use light to medium pressure (contrary to popular opinion harder is not better and can damage muscle tissue). Do each exercise for 90 seconds and be careful to place the roller under muscle, not bone or joints, for safety.

1. Back roll

Start by placing the foam roller on the ground, then lying on top of it (center it so that one end protrudes from either side of your back). Place it in the middle area of your back. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Push through your feet and slowly straighten your legs, allow your lower back to drifting over the top of the roller until it reaches your hips. Bend knees and roll back in the other direction until the roller reaches just below your shoulders. If the pressure is too intense, prop yourself up on your elbows to relieve some of the weight.

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

(Julia Hembree Smith)

2. Glutes roll

This move helps loosen tight butt muscles, which can pull on already-tight hamstrings, leading to injury. Start on the floor, resting your right butt cheek on the roller. Bend knees and keep feet planted on the floor (you will have to twist them to the right side). Using your right hand or elbow for support, rock back and forth slowly on your right side, adjusting the angle of your hips from straight to sideways to bring the roller in contact with the entire glute surface. Switch to the left side and repeat.

3. Calf relaxer

Sit on the floor, legs out in front. Rest your right lower leg on the inside edge of the foam roller so that the end clears contact with your left leg. Bend your left knee, and place hands out the sides and slightly behind your butt. Press through the floor with hands and your left foot to elevate your body so that it is hovering over the floor. Bend and straighten your left leg, allowing the roller to move up and down your right calf. Adjust the pressure by shifting more or less weight from your hands to your calf. Go straight back and forth for 10 rolls, then angle your leg inward so that the roller massages your inner calf. Open your hips outward and repeat so that it works on the outside of your calf. Repeat on the opposite side.

4. Hamstring relaxer

Following the instructions from the calf roll, sit with the inside edge of the foam roller under your right hamstring (upper leg). Bend left knee and place hands out to the side and slightly behind your butt. Raise your body and gently rock so that the foam roller rotates beneath your right hamstring. Use more or less weight on your hands depending on how deep you prefer the pressure. Switch sides and repeat.

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

Two women use foam rollers to massage their leg muscles after a running event.

5. Quad massager

Lie on your stomach with your right leg straight and left leg bent and out to the side. Situate the roller so that it is beneath your right thigh. Propping yourself up on your elbows and using your left foot for leverage, raise your body from the floor and rock forward and back, applying pressure to the roller as it massages your quad muscle.

5. Foot roll

Lay the roller flat on the floor near a wall. Facing the wall, stand on the roller in bare feet, placing hands against the wall for support. Depending on your arch flexibility and foot sensitivity, this position alone may be enough to feel a release in your arch and foot muscles. For a deeper massage, slowly and roll back onto your heels, then forward onto your toes, maintaining control of the roller (the movement will be quite small).

7. Side stretch

Lie on the right side, resting the roller beneath your armpit. Stretch your right arm out above your head, and place your bent left arm on the floor in front of you for support. Using your feet to push your body forward, allow your torso to slowly roll over the foam roller until it reaches the bottom of your rib cage. Slowly roll back in the other direction. Switch sides and repeat.

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.

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

“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.”

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

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

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“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.

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.

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

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.

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

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

Setting goals for the everyday athlete

Fitness. The word conjures mental images of tight lycra clothing, 5K finish lines, and overcrowded rooms filled with clanking weights and the pungent odor of sweat. Fitness, however, is much simpler than what is being sold to you. Fitness is health, plain and simple — the pursuit of which is a lifetime endeavor.

The concept of improving fitness almost always focuses directly on the improvement of the physical body. However, mental and spiritual health play equally important parts in the equation. Setting the proper intention — the purpose of one’s physical pursuit is as important, if not more so, than the physical movement itself.


When it comes to fitness, goals are paramount. There are three simple questions you need to ask yourself:

  1. Where do I want to be?
  2. Where am I currently?
  3. What is the healthiest path from No. 2 to No. 1?
Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

(Photo by Marty Skovlund, Jr./Coffee, or Die Magazine)

Your goals are your own. They should not exist for anyone else, and should be clearly identified so a path to achievement can be established. Let’s say your goal is to squat 200 pounds. Why? How does that number improve your quality of life? Numerical goals are not wrong so long as you can identify the reason. For example, if you aspire to be an EMT who will regularly need to hoist a 200-pound person, the goal serves you well.

Take an honest, comprehensive look at your current fitness level. Avoid self-criticism and identify the areas which can use the most improvement. Can you push and pull your body weight through various planes of movement repetitively and with ease? Does each of your joints flex and extend to an appropriate degree without pain? I know blood pressure and cholesterol levels aren’t as sexy to consider as what your abs look like, but they are undeniably factors that will sooner inhibit your quality of life than any aesthetic variance will.

Identify your weakness, then attack it with verve. Experienced triathletes know this concept well. For those with a strong swim and a weak run, it is much more enjoyable to practice swimming. This does little to improve race results or fitness in general though. That weakness may be flexibility, balance, or elevated levels of stress.

How To Workout Like An Operator

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Knowing where you are and where you want to be doesn’t mean anything without establishing a reasonable path from one to the other. This is the angle of the ladder you will climb to your goal. Time plays a crucial factor in this. If your goal is to squat that 200 pounds but you currently have physical difficulty getting off the couch, the goal is still achievable when the proper number of rungs are implemented at appropriate intervals.

Does the pursuit of your goal require detriment to other aspects of your health? If your goal is to complete a marathon for the sake of doing so and your training plan omits components of strength, power, speed, or agility, you may get to the finish line a little faster — but you are ultimately working against your own fitness.

If you can identify where you currently are and where you want to be but are unsure how to get from one to the other, fear not. In the coming weeks and months, I will address pertinent aspects of fitness programming, equipment, and ideology. Wherever you may be, let’s improve our fitness — and our quality of life, together.

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

The Warrior Games trials have begun

More than 120 wounded warriors from the Air Force and Army gathered March 1, 2019, to officially open the sixth annual Air Force Trials at Nellis Air Force Base.

The Air Force Trials, which run through March 7, 2019, are part of an adaptive and resiliency sports program designed to promote the mental and physical well-being of the wounded, ill and injured service members who participate.


Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

Retired Capt. Rob Hufford, Air Force Wounded Warrior Program ambassador and athlete, celebrates as he is honored for his Invictus Games achievements.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Corey Parrish)

The Paralympic-style competitive event showcases the resiliency of wounded warriors and highlights the effectiveness of adaptive sports as part of their recovery. It also highlights the impact the Wounded Warrior program, or AFW2, has in helping with the restorative care of wounded warriors enrolled in the program.

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

Members from the Air Force Wounded Warrior team pay respect to the flag during the 6th Annual Air Force Wounded Warrior Trials opening ceremony.

The Trials are also a test of the athletes’ resiliency, strength, and endurance, according to Col. Michael Flatten, Air Force Wounded Warrior Program director.

“It’s vitally important for their recovery we rebuild their sense of purpose, their sense of self and their sense of confidence,” said Flatten, during remarks at the ceremony. “Everybody in the world is going to tell them what they can’t do, we’re here to tell them what they can.”

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

A member of the U.S. Air Force Academy Wings of Blue Parachute Team glides into the 6th Annual Air Force Wounded Warrior Trials opening ceremony.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Corey Parrish)

The event features 10 different adaptive sports: powerlifting, cycling, wheelchair rugby, swimming, shooting, rowing, track and field, archery, wheelchair basketball, and sitting volleyball.

The Air Force Trials is the primary selection location for the 40 primary and 10 alternate members of Team Air Force at the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games June 21-30, 2019, in Tampa, Fla.

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

Chief Master Sgt. Kenneth Lindsey, Air Force Personnel Center command chief, speaks during the 6th Annual Air Force Wounded Warrior Trials opening ceremony.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Corey Parrish)

“It’s an awesome day here at Nellis,” said Air Force Personnel Center command chief Chief Master Sgt. Kenneth Lindsey. “The intent of this event is to promote the health, wellness and recovery of seriously wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans,” said Lindsey. “During these trials, participants will build comradery and confidence as they continue to recover.”

This year, the participants are made up of 53 active duty, 15 Air National Guard and Reserve and 72 Air Force veterans. Also attending the Trials are 32 caregivers, who play an important role in athlete care and recovery.

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

Col. Michael J. Flatten, Air Force Wounded Warrior Program director, speaks during the 6th Annual Air Force Wounded Warrior Trials opening ceremony.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Corey Parrish)

During the ceremony, the athletes were recognized by service, the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Wings of Blue performed a parachute demonstration, two HH-60 Pave Hawks from the 66th Rescue Squadron flew a two-ship formation and the Trials torch, carried by Air Force members from the 2018 U.S. Invictus Team, was lit.

Southwestern Athletic Conference names USAA Official Military Appreciation Partner

Athletes pose for a group photo during the 6th Annual Air Force Wounded Warrior Trials opening ceremony.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Corey Parrish)

The Trials are part of the Air Force’s Wounded Warrior program (AFW2), which is a congressionally mandated and federally funded organization administered by AFPC in San Antonio, Texas. The program includes recovery care coordinators, non-medical care managers, and other professionals who work with wounded warriors, their families and caregivers to guide them through various day-to-day challenges.

The DoD Warrior Games is an annual event recognizing the importance adaptive sports plays in the recovery and rehabilitation of the wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Why NFL referees no longer use pistols to call the end of a quarter

This post is sponsored by USAA, Official Salute to Service Partner of the NFL.

Anyone who’s ever been to a major sporting event can tell you the noise on the field level can be a deafening wall of sound. But communication on the field is important, and everyone involved needs to know how much time is left in the game. 

If you need any evidence of this, please refer to any close postseason game ever played. 

From the earliest days of American football until as late as 1994, referees on the field used a starter pistol to call the ends of quarters and of games.

When the leagues that became the NFL first started in 1920, there was no official standard for calling plays dead, ending quarters, or any other action taken by an officiating crew. Horns and whistles were used as often as anything else. These were soon standardized to whistles for the plays, pistols for the quarters, and eventually flags to call penalties. 

For much of the NFL’s early years, league officials keeping the official time would fire a starting pistol to signal the end of every quarter. The scoreboard clock was not the official game clock. But everyone could hear the crack of the shot and the refs would announce the end of the quarter or game. 

There’s no one reason why the league no longer uses the pistol, but suffice to say, it’s unnecessary.

An NFL referee signaling the start of a new quarter. Refs no longer use pistols.

In the NFL as we know it today, after the merger between the American Football League and the National Football League in 1970, the scoreboard became the official game clock – which was the league standard in the AFL (now the AFC). 

But though everyone could clearly see the time on the field, the refs still kept firing at the end of the quarter. The officiating crew also keeps the official time as a backup. 

As the late 1960s turned into the early 1970s, a wave of aircraft hijackings changed the rules of air travel. Referees were no longer allowed to travel with even a starter pistol, which could not fire live ammunition unless heavily modified. Refs had to borrow the home team’s starting gun.

If the home team didn’t have a starting gun, they didn’t use one, which could lead to confusion on the field. Standardization is as important in football as it is on the battlefield. 

Then, there were a series of incidents that wreaked havoc on the players, coaches and even the referees themselves. The sports blog FootballZebras recalled a number of accounts from the biographies of early NFL referees that describe a handful of these events in detail. 

One ref used the pistol to silence an angry Bill Belichick. Another accidentally fired the gun while it was still in his back pocket, causing a burn on his posterior. During one game, President Richard Nixon was in attendance and the use of the starting pistol caused extreme anxiety among the judges, who were afraid of Secret Service retaliation.  

So while there are many, many good reasons for refs not to fire a gunshot into the air at NFL games, the most important reason is that it’s just not necessary.

This post is sponsored by USAA, Official Salute to Service Partner of the NFL.

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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

The ‘crazy Swede’ was a paratrooper who rode his bike to summit Everest

Leave it to military veterans to make one of Earth’s last tests of human endurance that much more difficult. It’s a 6,000-mile bike ride from the town of Jonkoping, Sweden, to the base camp of Mount Everest. Former Swedish paratrooper Goran Kropp knew how far it was as he packed up his bicycle with 200-plus pounds of gear and departed on that trip in 1995.


His first summit of a major mountain came when he climbed the highest peak in Scandinavia with his dad – at just six years old. Although he indulged a rebellious streak as a young man, the experience of that first climb never left him, and he soon found himself in thin air once more.

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Kropp grew up as a hard-partying punk rocker but soon joined the Swedish paratroopers. This was the event that would shape Kropp for the rest of his life. He met his climbing partner while in the army and moved from an apartment to a tent pitched in a gravel pit that was close to his barracks. While still in the Swedish military, he would test himself through different climbing endurance challenges. The two paratroopers even made a list of progressively higher mountains.

Until it was time to go climb them.

He soon earned the nickname “The Crazy Swede” and became known for his insane feats. The first major peak he summited was Tajikistan’s Lenin Peak, far below the 8,000-meter “Death Zone” of mountaineering, but still a great place to start. What made his summit of Lenin Peak special is that he set the record for it at the time.

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The hits just kept coming. Kropp was the fourth climber ever to conquer Pakistan’s Muztagh Tower in 1990. He was the first Swede to summit K2, a much deadlier mountain to climb than Everest. One of every ten people who climb Everest will die there. On K2, the fatality rate is more than twice that. Climbers of K2 regularly face life-threatening situations that end their trip before it begins.

On Kropp’s first attempt at a K2 summit in 1993, he stopped to help rescue Slovenian climbers stranded at a high altitude. His ascent on K2 would happen a week after this aborted attempt, but danger didn’t always stop Kropp. That’s why it took him three attempts to summit Everest.

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Kropp leaving Sweden for Nepal in 1995.

Kropp left Sweden on his 8,000-mile journey to Nepal in October 1995 and arrived at base camp in April 1996. He wanted to make the ascent without the use of oxygen tanks or assistance ropes. His first attempt saw him struggle to make it to the south summit in waist-deep snow, but his slow pace meant he would be descending in the dark, a risk he was not willing to take. So, he turned around to climb another day.

As Kropp recovered at base camp, a blizzard killed eight trekkers making a descent from the summit, in what became known as the 1996 Mount Everest Disaster. It was the deadliest climbing season on Everest to date. Kropp joined the relief efforts as he recovered, but it was during this deadly season that Kropp summited the mountain, without oxygen and without sherpas.

Then, he rode his bike 8,000 miles home to Sweden.

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From Paratrooper to Adventurer.

He climbed five of the world’s fourteen 8,000-plus meter mountains and was the only Swede to summit Everest twice.

In later years, Kropp and his wife skied across the North Pole ice sheet, attempting to reach the North Pole. He had to back out, however, due to a frostbitten thumb. It was on that trek that the press turned against him, claiming he was a poacher for shooting a Polar Bear that was stalking him and his wife during the expedition. As a result, Kropp left Sweden for Seattle.

It was in Washington State that 35-year-old Kropp died an ironic death. After making so many miraculous summits and life-threatening firsts, he died climbing a routine 70-foot rock wall near his home after two safety rigging failures.

MIGHTY SPORTS

The best and worst cities to be a football fan may not surprise you

Another football season is nearing its end and the excitement surrounding this season, the surprise Clemson win, the NFC Championship controversy, and the upcoming Super Bowl inspired the people over at WalletHub to do yet another study on the habits and happiness of your average Americans – this time, with a focus on the gridiron.


Keep in mind, this isn’t just about NFL football, but you will find familiar NFL franchise cities on the top of the list. It also includes NCAA football. Some 244 American cities were graded on 21 different metrics using a 100-point scale, with 100 being a perfectly favorable score. WalletHub included one professional team or one college team, and assigned weights to each category based on its popularity with fans. The weighted averages comprise the list and are grouped by city size.

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“Terrible.”

The top ten will likely not be a surprise to anyone. Pittsburgh, home of die-hard Steelers fans and the Panthers of the NCAA’s Atlantic Coast Conference, tops the list. That’s followed by the homes of the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Giants, Dolphins, Saints, and so on. The first time the home of a nationally-ranked college football team comes is at the end of the 30 cities where NFL franchises are housed.

At the top of the college football list of best cities for football fans sits another unsurprising winner.

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Roll Tide.

Clemson, S.C., may have defeated the Crimson Tide for the BCS National Championship, but they’re in second place when it comes to fandom. As you scroll the list you’ll find the homes of the Florida State Seminoles, the LSU Tigers, and the Penn State Nittany Lions. What might surprise you is the high ranking for the North Dakota State Bison, Appalachian State Mountaineers, and the U.S. Military Academy’s Black Knights.

In case you were wondering, West Point, N.Y. sits at number 39 while Annapolis, Md. is all the way at number 123, sandwiched between the home of the Cal Poly Mustangs and the Eastern Michigan University Eagles. Colorado Springs, the home of the U.S. Air Force Academy, is number 115.

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There’s always next year, Navy.

As for the bottom of the list, the lowest ranked NFL city is Cleveland, which is unsurprising considering they once dubbed the Browns’ FirstEnergy Stadium the “Factory of Sadness.” In terms of the NCAA, the biggest surprise at the bottom of the college football list is the low, low ranking for the homes of the Oregon State Beavers and the Purdue Boilermakers, who scrape the bottom of a list of 244.

Check out the full list in the WalletHub Infographic.

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