FORT KNOX, Ky. -- Fifteen Soldier-athletes will be the first members of the new Warrior Fitness Team, the latest addition to the line-up of outreach programs developed to support the U.S. Army's recruiting effort.
More than 350 Soldiers from units across the Army applied for the competitive team, and 25 were invited to Fort Knox Feb. 8-10 for tryouts.
The new Warrior Fitness Team has been established as part of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command to help create awareness about career opportunities and benefits of service among a highly motivated and physically qualified population.
"It is an opportunity to provide education and promote holistic health and well-being," said Capt. Allison Brager, one of the 15 selected for the team. "It's a chance to plan my career around my lifestyle by engaging in a community that values the pursuit of excellence, embodies the "iron philosophy, and inspires others to do the same."
Brager is a neuroscientist currently working at Walter Reed National Institute for Medical Research in Washington, D.C.
Brager and the other Soldiers who attended the team tryouts faced three grueling individual workouts and one team workout to test their physical capabilities.
"As I walked through those doors of the gym [for tryouts], it was like my mind had not yet caught up with my body," said Staff Sgt. Neil French, who was selected for the team. "I knew where I was, but the realization that what I've been training for was finally here."
French, a military intelligence analyst with the 8th Army in South Korea, said he has had a passion for fitness since he was a child. Because his grandfather was a Marine, French originally wanted to join the Marine Corps, but he decided the Army was a better option for him due to greater opportunities for schools and training.
"The Army has provided me with so many amazing experiences and opportunities," French said. "Because of the Army I've been able to learn a new language, meet amazing people who have become like a second family, and travel to places I never thought I'd go."
While French, Brager and the other Soldiers selected for the team demonstrated their physical skills at tryouts, that was not the only test. A personal interview was also an important part of the process, as these Soldiers will serve as ambassadors for the Army's recruiting effort.
The members of the team are coming from a variety of locations and occupations. Many of the team members are already nationally ranked competitors, who will now have the opportunity to compete in black and gold uniforms on behalf of the U.S. Army. The team will participate across the nation in various fitness competitions, to include CrossFit competitions and World- Class Strongman Competitions.
Sgt. First Class Anthony Fuhrman, an Army recruiter, is one of the members heading to the team's first official competition, the Arnold Festival USA Feb. 28-March 3 in Columbus, Ohio. Fuhrman recently won the World's Strongest Man competition in his category and placed second on the premiere episode of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's show "The Titan Games."
In addition to competitions, the team members will participate in community engagement activities across the country to share their personal Army stories and educate potential Soldiers and their influencers about the career, leadership and training opportunities the Army offers.
Congratulations to the members of the new U.S. Army Warrior Fitness Team:
• Capt. Allison Brager: Neuroscientist, Walter Reed Medical Research Center, Washington, D.C.
• Staff Sgt. Gabriele Burgholzer: Special Operations Recruiter, Special Operations Recruiting Battalion, Honolulu, Hawaii
• Capt. Kasandra Clark: Aviation Officer, 2nd Battalion 3rd General Support Aviation, Fort Stewart, Georgia
• Capt. Deanna Clegg: Logistics Officer, 46th Aviation Support Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, Joint Base Lewis McCord, Washington
• Pvt. 1st Class Jesse Coleman: Infantryman, 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, Fort Polk, Louisiana
• Staff Sgt. Neil French: Intelligence Analyst, 8th Army, Camp Humphries, South Korea
• Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Fuhrman: Recruiter, U.S. Army Recruiting Command, Tampa recruiting Battalion
• Capt. Brian Harris: Aeromedical Evacuation Officer, 1-223rd Aviation Regiment, Fort Rucker, AL.
• Spc. Justin Loy: Infantryman, 1-5 IN, 1-25 SBCT, Fort Wainwright, Alaska
• Capt. John Murphy: Logistics officer, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado
• Spc. Jacob Pfaff: UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter repairer, 127th Aviation Support Battalion, Fort, Bliss, Texas
• Capt. Rachel Schreiber: Optometrist, West Point Medical Command, New York
• Capt. Ashley Shepherd: Battalion Commander Baltimore Recruiting Battalion, Baltimore, MD
• 1LT Chandler Smith: Captains Career Course, Fort Benning Ga.
• Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Zayas: Military Police HHC, 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas