By Tech. Sgt. Natasha Stannard, 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 29, 2017
Two U.S. Air Force Airmen from Joint Base Langley-Eustis competed and placed in the Air Force Alpha Warrior Final Battle fitness competition in San Antonio, Nov. 11, 2017. Alpha Warrior is a program that allows military members and civilians to train and compete in obstacle installments. Langley Air Force Base recently had an Alpha Warrior battle rig installed, allowing JBLE Airmen to train and qualify at home station for the final battle. Langley AFB competitors, 2nd Lt. Nicole Mitchell and Airman 1st Class Trevor Puerile, not only competed in the 32-obstacle final battle together, but they also trained and supported one another in preparation for the event. After returning from the challenge and placing first and third in their respective divisions, the 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office interviewed the competitors.
Hometown: San Diego, California
Years in the U.S. Air Force: Two years
Reason for joining: “Military has pretty much ran in my family, so I’ve kind of been around that culture; I always knew I was going to join. What I was going to do in it, was going to be decided upon what my degree was.”
Alpha Warrior diet: “That never changes; it’s been an on-going struggle. I don’t eat different when I train; I probably should, I just don’t. I don’t eat fast food and I don’t drink soda as well; that ended in high school. Anything that has a drive-thru is pretty much what I avoid. It’s about balancing what’s good for you, and avoiding the bad stuff, but sometimes you just got to give in.”
Alpha Warrior training: Weight lifting, running, high intensity interval training and practicing on Alpha Warrior rigs and at Ninja Warrior gyms. Mitchell and Puerile also dedicated additional time to travel to larger gyms.
“Going to other gyms whether they were an hour or three hours away definitely benefited so much more. It helped with grip strength, it helped get my hands less sensitive to that kind of equipment and the type of movements.”
---Behind the Warrior---
What's your motivation?: "Just knowing what goals I’m trying to reach, I can’t reach them if I don’t do anything. That’s my main motivation; I know the goals I want to hit and I can’t get there if I don’t attempt to."
Did you ever have an off day where you felt unmotivated to go? “Always; especially when your couch is calling. Having a good partner like Airman 1st Class Peurile, he’s always motivated to work out and do more and keep going, so he definitely kept me afloat to keep going, working out and getting prepared for all this."
What about the three hour drive; that must have been difficult: “It was fun though; I was excited to go because I always wanted to try some of the equipment they had. It wasn’t like ‘dang I have to go to this gym,’ I was like ‘I want to go; I’m excited to try all this stuff.’ It made the three hour drive so much easier just because of the excitement; it (was) like a kid going to Disneyland.”
U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Nicole Mitchell, 83rd Network Operations Squadron directory services officer in charge, does a one-handed push-up at the photo lab on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Nov. 22, 2017. An avid weight lifter and track competitor, Mitchell competed in the Air Force Alpha Warrior competition to push herself, reach limits and set new goals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Natasha Stannard)
Did your unit support you?: “With my unit, every time I saw someone in the hall they’d say ‘look at that Alpha Warrior walking by.’ It was humbling to think that people were actually keeping track of what I was doing.”
Did you have support while you were there too?: “Of course my wife; she unfortunately was in officer training school while I was away; so she via text, phone call and Facetime gave me support constantly. My family that lives in San Antonio was actually able to be there when I was doing the course, so that made it 20 times better. Just having them there was the icing on top of the cake. Having that support just pushes you further and gets you through harder times.”
Did seeing them in the crowd help?: “I couldn’t see anybody when I was doing the course, but I heard my mom. She has an Asian accent, so she stands out over everybody. I could hear my sister. I could hear my nephew, so just hearing the support and hearing it from people I didn’t even know, that was motivating. I remember I was tired at one point and I was close to either finishing or close to getting to the next course and someone said ‘keep going,’ and I took a break at one point and stopped and put my hands on my knees, and they were like ‘come on you got this,’ so I got up.”
How did it feel when you found out you placed first?: “I didn’t know I placed first. (Other competitors) had the advantage of testing the course the day before the event, but I flew in the day of the event, so I wasn’t able to go on the course. I just wanted to have fun, and I wanted to finish. I didn’t know my time and I went to go check the paper and I was like, ‘Oh, I think I won; I’m on the top, I’m assuming…’ I was surprised, I was really surprised; there were a lot of good competitors talking about how they did and I just thought, ‘I hope I do as well as them.’”
You mentioned goals a lot; what’s the next one? “My next goal is to do Ninja Warrior. I‘ll see how far I get and keep going until I can’t do it anymore.”
Do you think the Air Force helped you get to this point in any way?: “If it wasn’t for Alpha Warrior, then I don’t know if I would ever try to do Ninja Warrior. The Air Force definitely helped me in that aspect of getting me to different goals and introducing me to a new competition style. I did track for eight years, so I need to compete in something. I needed to work to something.”
Hometown: Mount Upton, New York
Years in the U.S. Air Force: One and a half years
Reason for joining: Puerile joined the Air Force to travel and take advantage of debt free educational opportunities as well as other benefits. He actually had to take a break from school to train for Alpha Warrior.
Alpha Warrior diet: “I have a semi-strict diet most of the time. I don’t eat fast food or drink soda. I usually just eat chicken and fish, and try not to have too many snacks. I break my meals up into six meals a day; they’re little though. They’re only 361 calories per meal.”
Alpha Warrior training: Puerile worked out five days a week, three to four hours per day. His workouts included: High intensity interval training, six to eight mile runs, practicing on Alpha Warrior obstacle course six rounds per session, rock climbing and swimming, which he wished he did more.
What’s your motivation?: “I just like being in shape. I like to push myself to limits.
People say I’m a spider monkey. I’ve always liked climbing and just doing crazy stuff.
I started doing it for fun. Like, when I first showed up here and the actual Alpha Warrior people were here, I went through (the rig) and just messed around. I was the only one to make it through the course (that wasn’t an Alpha Warrior). I finished at a minute 38 seconds; it was pretty rough. I started practicing and it became about the technique. I got down to 52 seconds and qualified for Texas.”
How did you stay motivated?: “I had my buddy working out with me. He was better at some stuff and I was better at other stuff, so we’d help motivate each other. I also had my leadership always telling me ‘no pressure’; that was motivating too because I’m kind of new here.”
Puerile added that about 30 people from his unit came to support him in qualifying for the final Alpha Warrior competition. His flight chief and two friends were also at the final competition in San Antonio.
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Trevor Puerile, 633rd Security Forces Squadron entry controller, lets loose at Joint Base Langley-Eustis’ photo studio on Langley Air Force Base, Va., Nov. 22, 2017. Referred to as spider-monkey by friends, Puerile decided to compete in the Air Force Alpha Warrior competition for fun, but became more serious about it once he saw results. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Natasha Stannard)
What was going through your head when you got third place?: “Not much; I just thought it was really cool. I was wondering what my command was going to say when I got back. My other flight chief actually texted me ‘good job.’ My flight chief that was with me told everyone. I didn’t think about it too much; I just wanted to get back and go to bed, to be honest.”
What did people say when you got back?: “As soon as I came in the squadron, everyone came up and shook my hand and said ‘good job.’ They joked around with me saying ‘If I did it, I would have gotten better than third.’ A lot of people are actually coming to me now asking if I can pace them for their (physical training) test.”
What did your leadership’s support mean to you?: “If you go through all that hard work, it feels like it’s for nothing, if no one notices. Say the commander didn’t give me this time and I was working my butt of every day after work missing out on sleep and stuff like that, I think that would have affected my work a little. It would have been rough and stressful not knowing there where people that were supporting me.”
What advice do you have for others?: “You’re either going to do it or you’re not going to do it. You have to be 100 percent going towards it. If you’re going to do it, just work your butt off, practice and keep in mind that it’s not just all strength, you’ve got to work on technique too.”