By Spc. Austin PopeJune 6, 2018
The Soldiers arrived before 8 a.m. to setup for the event and prepare for the upcoming day. Throughout the day they held three powerlifting events. The Soldiers acted as judges, spotters, weight rackers, scorekeepers and most importantly motivation and encouragement to the athletes.
The battalion started volunteering for the powerlifting competition about three years ago and has been holding it ever since.
"When I became command sergeant major four years ago I took the opportunity to get our unit involved in this as our support to the local community" said the 4th Battalion's senior enlisted leader Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Klingenberg. "After the first year we did it, people saw that it was a great event to support and the athletes involved and their families truly appreciated our battalion's involvement in this."
The competition involved three main events; the squat, the bench press, and the dead lift event. For each event there were three judges surrounding the athletes as they competed. If the athlete had proper form and completed the lift correctly, the judges raised their white flag, signaling a successful lift. If the athletes had a violation while lifting, the red flags came up.
Throughout the day high fives, hugs, and encouragement were exchanged between the athletes and 1st SFG (A) volunteers. Some of the athletes were even saluting the Soldier volunteers.
"They love the military," said the powerlifting venue manager Angel Quant. "I mean they support them 100 percent. When they see them, they salute them. They ask for their patches. I mean they just love coming to JBLM."
Quant has been working with the Special Olympics for the last 35 years and shares the athlete's appreciation towards the volunteers.
"They know what they're doing. Which is nice to have the continuity of people coming back. And they're a nice group of people," said Qaunt.
While most of the 1st SFG (A) volunteers were Soldiers, civilian members also donated their time and expertise. Tactical Human Optimization Rapid Rehabilitation and Reconditioning (THOR3) Program Human Performance Coordinator Ryan Cidizik was among those volunteers. Cidizik is a member of the specialized THOR3 program the Special Operations Forces utilizes to maximize human performance, provide rehabilitative services, and physical and mental conditioning to SOF Soldiers. While this was Cdizik's first year in the event, it was not his first powerlifting competition.
"I have personal experience coordinating events. I was the state chairman of the powerlifting association for five years when I lived in Louisiana. I've been very involved with powerlifting specifically. It was great to see how well run the event is, it is pretty impressive," Cidizik said during the competition.
Impressive too, was the number of Soldiers from the 4th Battalion that volunteered their Saturday to coach and mentor the athletes.
"Everybody here from 4th battalion is volunteering on their own time. No one was forced to come here," Staff Sgt. Josiah Ingels said, a religious affairs non-commissioned officer. "This is coming from the overflow of kindness in people's hearts. Just a way that 4th battalion and 1st group can give back to the community."