The Army Warrior Fitness Team is looking to get the show on the road this spring with about a dozen members of the inaugural squad, selected Monday after a tryout near Fort Knox, Kentucky, that began Saturday.
The team narrowed the field down to eight men and seven women over the two-day tryout, held at Hard Knox CrossFit in Radcliff, where they lifted weights, walked on their hands and climbed ropes as part of their audition.
“Many people were very nervous going through the interviews, but everybody did extremely well,” 1st Sgt. Glenn Grabbs, the team’s noncommissioned officer in charge, said in a Monday video on Facebook. "I couldn’t be prouder of all the people that participated.
These soldiers made the final cut:
- 1st Lt. Chandler Smith
- Spc. Jacob Pfaff
- Capt. Brian Harris
- Staff Sgt. Neil French
- Capt. John Murphy
- Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Zayas
- Pfc. Jesse Coleman
- Capt. Deanna Clegg
- Capt. Kaci Clark
- Capt. Ashley Shepard
- Capt. Allison Brager
- Capt. Rachel Schreiber
- Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Fuhrman
- Spc. Justin Loy
- Staff Sgt. Gabriele Burgholzer
“It’s a dream come to true to be able to combine performing, competing, being an athlete and representing the Army to America,” Clegg, a 28-year-old logistics officer with the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, told Army Times in a statement. “Being a part of a team like this will allow me to further grow and develop as a leader, as well as give me more confidence working with large groups of people in a public setting.”
In addition to high Army Physical Fitness Test scores and top-notch evaluation reports, Grabbs looked at past fitness competition standings and graded their communications skills.
“Beyond the physical abilities of each soldier, we interviewed to identify well-developed communication and social skills,” he said in a statement. “We asked each person to present themselves and tell us their Army story as if we knew nothing about the Army and who they were. We wanted to see if they were prepared to engage the public, not just in discussions about fitness, but who they are and why they serve.”
French, 27, an intelligence analyst based at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, told Army Times that he had been a longtime CrossFit enthusiast.
“Even before I joined the Army, I was a CrossFit coach, and I loved helping people train and get better,” he said. “Being able to be a part of this team, I’ll be able to skyrocket my abilities and help recruit for the Army and show what we have to offer.”
In addition to team workouts and traveling for fitness competitions, team members will share daily routines, fitness tips and more on social media channels and through streaming.
By engaging with the public online and at competitions, the hope is that the team will help attract athletic young Americans to service.
The assignment lasts for three years, and the soldiers will have to maintain MOS proficiency and hit their promotion milestones while part of the team.
Brager, 34, a research psychologist and chief of sleep research at the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, said that her stint with the team would be a career-broadening assignment, which can also include stints at basic training or West Point, fellowships and other jobs outside of one’s military occupational specialty.
“My body of research for the Army is built around these tenets: high-level physical training, rest/recovery, injury prevention, and nutrition — and a search for biomarkers and strategies for enhancing human performance,” she said. “To do this for the ultimate benefit of the Army and Army recruiting is a dream come true.”
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.