ARLINGTON, Va. – It was a completely unanticipated part of Maj. Adriana de Julio’s recovery journey when she competed in three sport events during the recent Army Trials 2021. The experience challenged, strengthened and surprised her.
She participated in air rifle, cycling and archery during the two-week-long athletic competition that determines who will make Team Army. A total of 45 athletes will earn a spot and head to the Department of Defense Warrior Games this September in Orlando, Florida.
For de Julio, this was initially about recovering from her injuries and becoming stronger. She was an ultra-runner prior to being injured during a ruck march and training for the Army Combat Fitness Test, which resulted in permanent damage to her lower left leg and foot. As she began to recover, she wanted to get involved in additional athletics. The Fort Carson Soldier Recovery Unit in Colorado helped her find ways to make that happen, she said.
“So, becoming an Army Trials athlete was actually just part of the journey to my overall recovery,” she said. “I was not expecting it at all.”
Her training regimen consisted of one or two weekly sessions at Fort Carson, in addition to three to five on her own. She said that the experience was “tough but rewarding” in addition to being strengthening in physical and emotional respects.
Recreation Therapist Courtney Medeiros said that de Julio trained at home on her exercise bike during the winter, in addition to practicing air rifle. She also trained with Adaptive Reconditioning Support Specialist Marc Cattapan.
“I have been challenged by the SRU [adaptive reconditioning] team to push myself harder with my cycling routine and rifle training,” de Julio said. “They taught me how to track my routines better and gave me mentors that would coach me in my sports.”
She recalled using a variety of methods to prepare for Army Trials, such as teleconferencing, phone calls and apps.
“During COVID, they really adapted quickly to help me prepare for the Trials,” de Julio said.
Medeiros said that training and competing in Army Trials provides Soldiers with a number of benefits, including raising their morale and motivation when fellow Soldiers are there to support them.
For de Julio, the best part of this experience was training with other athletes and witnessing how all involved adapted in different ways to participate. There was an unexpected aspect as well.
“I was surprised by how large the community was and how supportive they were of every athlete and of every idea we had of trying,” de Julio said.
Ultimately, de Julio accomplished things that she thought she couldn’t do and did something she hadn’t done. She had never tried cycling before, so it was a new experience.
“I can’t imagine not cycling now!” she said.
There’s more to adaptive sports than athletic training. She said the SRU and the Army Recovery Care Program also provided her with a mindset in which she doesn’t think of herself as a disabled athlete.
“I think of myself as being an enabled athlete,” de Julio said.
The Army Warrior Care and Transition Program is now the Army Recovery Care Program. Although the name has changed, the mission remains the same: to provide quality complex case management to the Army's wounded, ill and injured Soldiers.