ARLINGTON, VA — Maj. Adriana de Julio of the Fort Carson Soldier Recovery Unit in Colorado will be one of 45 athletes representing Team Army in Orlando this September, but it's not medals she's looking forward to the most: she can't wait to finally meet her future teammates in person.
The coronavirus pandemic robbed her of the opportunity to compete together at Army Trials with most of the Soldiers who will be her teammates this fall, so she'll be meeting them for the first time.
"They all have really interesting stories and all different kinds of talents," she said.
De Julio will be competing in air rifle, cycling, golf and wheelchair racing. She was an NCAA golfer and lacrosse player in college, and at 43 is excited to participate in competitive sports again at the Warrior Games.
Competition is in de Julio's blood. She was an ultra-runner before an injury during a ruck march caused permanent damage to her lower left leg and foot.
She found out she had been chosen for Team Army when she got a call from SRU leadership, who congratulated her as well as the four others — Maj. Kyle Eldridge, Spc. James McFadden, Staff Sgt. Michael Murphy and Staff Sgt. Mark Menapace — at Fort Carson who had made the team and had been training alongside her.
"It was really nice, and really exciting as well," she said. "It was also kind of overwhelming to know we have three to four months to train and get ready. I was excited to hear who else had been picked, and think about which sports we were going to do. They didn't tell us right away what events we would be doing."
She was happiest to get on the golf team, which was the sport she most wanted to compete in. She was also "really happy" to get chosen for cycling, as she had just started participating in that activity for the first time since her injury.
To prepare herself for the Games, de Julio has ramped up her training. Now that it's warm, she can train outside instead of relying on indoor simulators. She used to ride 70 kilometers per week indoors and has ramped that up to 100 kilometers, and she has been working with a PGA golf pro on her golf game.
New technology at the Fort Carson SRU has helped with her air rifle game. The SRU got an electronic system that shows the exact rating of the shot, which helps her learn how to handle her rifle. She spends a few hours each week practicing for that event.
De Julio credits the SRU for pushing her back into physical competition. Soldiers at SRUs are expected to get a certain amount of activity for physical therapy, and that helped de Julio get the motivation to compete for Warrior Games.
It's worked out for her. In just a few weeks, she'll be representing the Army in a huge televised competition.
But she can't wait to see others perform as well.
"They all really inspire me, honestly," she said. "I look forward to seeing the other sports like wheelchair basketball and meeting the other teams in the [Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force and SOCOM]."