Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst
As a spectator, there’s really only one way to approach an event like the Warrior Games: humbly. For the uninitiated, Warrior Games is a week of adaptive sports competition for service members and veterans. Whether sustained in combat or brought on through a tragic accident or diagnosis, the athletes competing in the events are all doing so with struggles that make even everyday life more difficult than it once was.
These service members, who are living monuments to perseverance, come from every branch of the military, and the Coast Guard is no exception. During the 2017 Warrior Games, four Coast Guard service members and veterans are participating on the joint Navy/Coast Guard team. The four represent the broad spectrum of military jobs: an intelligence specialist, an information systems technician, a yeoman and a fireman. What they share is a drive to take part in competitive athletics, in the face of disabilities that most would be hard-pressed to overcome.
For a Warrior Games athlete, the process of preparing for competitions and eventually competing against the other branches is not only a challenge, but also a way to move past setbacks and find likeminded individuals.
“The athletes on the team welcomed me with open arms,” said veteran Petty Officer 3rd Class Krissy Esget, who is competing in field, shooting and swimming this year, and was the only Coast Guard team member in 2016. “That made me feel better, knowing that I wasn’t alone.”
And alone she is not. Like some of the other athletes we will introduce later in the week, Esget has made the best of a difficult situation. What separates her and other adaptive athletes from the pack is their steadfastness in accomplishing goals that might initially seem impossible.
“The biggest thing I do is mental training,” said Esget. “I wake up every morning, I look at myself in the mirror when I brush my teeth, and I say, ‘You’re gonna have a great day.’”
The march back from her injury to the accomplished athlete she is today was no small feat.
She describes it as a process of baby steps, each victory relished and each setback removed from the ledger. Now, as she competes against world-class opponents on a national and international stage (last year during the Invictus Games, started by Britain’s Prince Harry), the baby steps have paid off.
But the progress does not stop, and she always has the next goal in mind as she accomplishes the last.
“If it wasn’t for this program, I wouldn’t be here today,” Esget said. “It gives you a new purpose in life.”
You can also follow the results of the events during the competition here.
Check back with Compass later this week for more stories about Coast Guard athletes!