Sgt. Michael Vaughn learns the art of perfect form with Coach Adriane Wilson at training camp at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in November 2019. (Photo courtesy Adriane Wilson)
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Coach Adriane Wilson takes a time out with Army Sgt. Ryan Major and Staff Sgt. Joel Rodriguez of Team USA at the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney Australia. (Photo courtesy Adriane Wilson)
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ARLINGTON VA — It has been nearly two years since COVID-19 introduced a “new normal” to the world. The pandemic forced everyone to endure some of the challenges that recovering Soldiers have always had to deal with — and one adaptive sports coach believes the pandemic has shown to the world just how resilient wounded, ill and injured Soldiers are.

Adriane Wilson, a coach at the Fort Bragg SRU in North Carolina, has been working hard over the past two years to help wounded, ill and injured Soldiers adapt and overcome. Being confined at home with limited options has been a new experience for many people outside of the military, but it’s an old and familiar challenge in Wilson’s world.

“Now everyone in the world has just a little taste of the struggle that was forced upon our wounded, ill and injured Soldiers that they didn’t have any control over,” she said.

Wilson started working with the Army Recovery Care Program coaching Team Army athletes at the 2016 Warrior Games at West Point and has been cheering them on at the annual Army Trials, Warrior and Invictus Games. While the pandemic canceled and moved competitions, she continues to help these athletes in their quest to better themselves.

It’s not just about winning competitions, Wilson said.

“This is bigger than a gold medal in proving resiliency and being able to probably surpass yourself especially since we’ve been challenged in ways we never imagined,” she said.

Wilson is a world class athlete in her own right, winning the Women’s 40-44 Masters World Championship at the Scottish Highland Games in Austin, Texas last month. Even there, she was relying on apps and social media, where she conducted virtual training, to help Soldiers progress physically and mentally.

“These athletes are making me a better coach because they are pushing me to continue to be creative and make things interesting,” she said. “I know most have gone back to the gym, but there are still some restrictions according to what state you live in — perhaps a limitation on how many people can be in a room — so there’s a chance they could be turned away, which is unfortunate.”

Wilson says she has a Christmas wish list not only for Team Army athletes, but anyone who wants to get healthy — pandemic or not.

The first item on the wish list are items you can have at home to work out, like 5- to 50-pound kettlebells. Also, it’s good to have regular dumbbells and stretch bands of all sizes. People can watch videos online to learn the workouts.

Her next wish is for everyone to help inspire someone else to keep moving. “It’s best to have accountability!” she said. “Get hooked up with a friend either in person or [virtually]. … It’s hard to be dedicated to working out when you are alone.”

Her last wish for everyone is something that she thinks is so easy, it’s silly. “You know those furniture sliders you put on the bottom of furniture, so you don’t scratch your floors? Get some and do easy lunges and ab exercises. It will cost about $3.”

All of this adjusting and the extra steps may seem exhausting, but Wilson doesn’t mind. She loves to see the transformation, especially when it comes to Team Army.

“I love supporting our athletes and I love that they believe in ARCP, because it’s tremendous to see that when they follow the program, they really do recover and overcome,” she said.