By Christopher Fields, Warrior Care and TransitionMarch 31, 2017
FORT BLISS, TEXAS -- Millions of rocks, swift winds and dry air are no stranger to Victorville, California native and U.S. Army Spc. Alexandria McIntyre. "This is just like home to me. A desert is a desert," she laughed when asked about being at Fort Bliss. McIntyre, better known by her nickname Mac, is one of about 80 Army athletes that are here to compete at Warrior Care and Transition's 2017 Army Trials for a chance to represent Team Army at the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Chicago. Something she never imagined doing when she was assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit at Joint Base Lewis - McChord, Washington in December 2016.
"My roommate signed me up and I was kind of like, 'okay…what did you just get me into?'" Mac said as she recounted how she made her way to Army Trials. After being assigned to the WTU following a hip injury, Mac's roommate, and fellow Army Trials participant Spc. Maria Garcia, helped her get out of the room and involved in adaptive sports.
"I initially injured my hip about eight months into my Army career, but I kept going." Mac said. She continued to do her job as a signal Soldier, but her hip wasn't healing as quickly as she thought. "When my hip started to get worse, I was taken away from my team, my platoon and all the things that made me a Soldier so I could heal. There is no better feeling or sense of purpose than waking up and putting on the Army uniform. But in my mind I was just broken and no longer a Soldier," Mac explained. "These competitions have helped me realize I can still do things and be successful. They have really helped me build my self-confidence. And being here with other Soldiers and veterans that understand what I'm going through has given me a whole new family and support system."
Mac is no stranger to working hard and discipline, two things she credits her father, Bryan, for instilling in her. "My dad is prior service and kind of implemented a military-like structure at home. Between that and martial arts, I learned to work for things," Mac said. Her father is a former Army infantryman and an instructor as well as a master of the martial art Tang Soo Do, in which Mac holds a third degree black belt and was an instructor herself prior to joining the Army.
"I liked teaching kids and adults Tang Soo Do, but it never felt like home," Mac said. "I wanted to be a part of something bigger and my dad raised me with that Army mindset, so the military seemed like a good place for me and it was."
Although Mac credits her roommate who pushed her into competing, she has embraced the opportunity and feels confident about competing in swimming and air rifle.
"I chose to swim because it was familiar to me. I swam a lot growing up, not competitively or anything, but I thought I could do it," Mac said. "I love the air rifle though. I don't know what it is about it, but I just love it and I found out I'm not too bad at it either." Mac participated in the two events at the Air Force Trials in February where she won a gold in swimming and a bronze in shooting. Based on her shooting performance, Mac has been recruited to join an air rifle shooting team that competes in local, state and national competitions, an opportunity she is looking forward to pursuing in addition to a spot on Team Army and competing at the 2017 DoD Warrior Games. Adaptive sports and participating at Army Trials have done more for Mac than she ever could have imagined.
"Competing at these events has been great for me. It has given me a new sense of self, a new family, and helped me build my self-confidence. I know I will be a different person after this experience. And whether I make Team Army or not, I'm looking forward to meeting that person."