By Chelsea Bissell, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Public Affairs May 7, 2012
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- With 30 years of competitive weight lifting under his belt, John Dale, otherwise known as "Mr. ASAP," proved impossible to best during the Army Substance Abuse Program's latest awareness event, April 20.
Soldiers and family members gathered in the Grafenwoehr Physical Fitness Center as they competed to out-bench press Dale and learned about the negative effects of substance abuse on both community and athleticism.
"We're providing the knowledge to the Soldiers while still having fun," explained Dale. "We bait them there with the physical fitness challenge and then give them information."
The event, titled "Beat Mr. ASAP," pitted Soldiers and family members' strength against Dale's. Dale, who powerlifted competitively during his 24 years in the Army, was confident he couldn't be beat at his own game.
"I'm not going to bench first," he said. "I might discourage participation."
The competition was divided into three rounds: women's repetitions, men's repetitions and maximum bench. To start off the event, the ladies battled for the most repetitions benching 85 pounds. Jessica Aguirre easily bested her opponents and won first place with 11 reps.
Aguirre, a fitness enthusiast who called the gym her "second home," attributes her success to friend, supporter and weight trainer Jackie Reddinger.
"She's really been guiding me through this process," said Aguirre.
For the men, the weight was ramped up to 225 pounds. Sgt. Abimael Carrasquillo, 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 1st Line Cargo Transfer Company, pumped out 23 repetitions to snag first place.
The maximum weight competition started at a whopping 315 pounds, which Mr. ASAP and his main challenger, Sgt. Derrick Bell, 574th Quartermaster, easily put away. The weight was increased 100 pounds to 415. Again, both Mr. ASAP and Bell completed the lift.
Then, with the weight at 455 pounds the fun and intensity surged. Bell pointed into the onlookers, shouting, "This is for the little guy," before trying and failing to complete his one, heavy hoist. During his turn, Mr. ASAP let out a cry of "Get some! Hooah!" while successfully lifting the bar up and into its notch.
Mr. ASAP then rounded-out the maximum weight portion benching 475 pounds unchallenged.
While Mr. ASAP proved unparalleled in his strength, Bell earned the first place trophy for maximum weight benched, the prize he sought to obtain.
"I was going to win. I was going to bring it back for all the mechanics," said Bell.
The competition drew most of the crowd, but the aim of the event was to promote overall wellness and discuss alcohol, substance and sexual abuse. Spokespersons from Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP, and the Army Wellness Center attended to provide support and information.
In between each contender's time on the bench, ASAP representatives read statements such as, "Two consecutive nights of drinking five or more alcoholic beverages can affect brain and body activities for up to five days."
The purpose was to encourage moderation and draw connections between substance abuse and lower standards of health. Kim Waller, director of the Army Wellness Center, emphasized how alcohol cancels out the benefits of exercise and weight loss.
"Not only does alcohol impair performance, but it undoes a lot of the work you're trying to do," she said.
In addition, excessive alcohol use has serious consequences beyond deteriorating fitness.
"Substance abuse is not in a vacuum," explained Pennie Stallworth, ASAP program manager. "Many sexual assaults occur due to substance abuse."
Sgt. 1st Class David Tiller, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, SARC/SHARP, concurred with Stallworth's cause-and-effect analysis.
"It's a two-fold attack," he explained. "We're attacking alcoholism and sexual assault at the same time."
ASAP already plans to continue the event next year, with hopes that "Beat Mr. ASAP" will become an annual tradition on USAG Grafenwoehr.