Military Athlete T-Shirt Collaborative
We wanted to provide a opportunity for the Military Athlete community to submit a story and T-shirt design that captures their experiences while serving. We received great submissions, and it was a tough task to narrow it down to six designs.
After the submitters drafted their own designs, we went back and forth with a professional designed, ensuring it best represented what the athlete had envisioned. With the designs approved, we were able to put them on the production line. The athletes will get a cut of the profits, so support your fellow Military Athletes and pick one up.
This week, we’re pleased to show you the designs and stories. We’d like to thank all who submitted designs and stories, and hope you like them.
Check them out on our Gear Store now!
“It was around the 4th of July, 2014, and we found ourselves at a remote combat outpost in southern Afghanistan. The base was home to about 60 Americans, as well as a platoon from the Georgian Army.
Despite a heightened threat, the freedom loving team decided the best defensive strategy was to fly as many American flags as possible, and thus we spent an afternoon hanging every flag we could get our hands on.
We zip tied them to pickets and the pickets on top of the walls.
The end product was a long wall that 8 foot hesco, 4 foot hesco, and the Stars and Stripes on top.
We probably had about 3 dozen flags flying proudly in the face of the enemy. An attack never came, and I like to think that it was largely because of the boldness, audacity, and readiness that was behind the men and woman that hung those flags.
For me, the image represents a mindset… flying the flag proudly and being ready.”
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. ”
President Theodore Roosevelt
Citizenship in a Republic – April 23, 1910
What I feel each morning.
Working out in the military is a ritual of sorts. Different guys specialize in different things and we all have a go to workouts.
You have your runners and you have your lifters and if you truly care about functional fitness you mix in both. But we as military athletes know that the one thing that sets us apart from others is the fact that we must be able to move over ground as fast and efficiently possible with a RUCK on our back. The problem is we overlook doing this too much because its HARD and its not sexy.
We love to do deadlifts, we love to boast about our FRAN time, and everyone wants to compare PFT and CFT times.
But what makes a good Military Athlete is the one who wakes up and chooses the RUCK over the RACK. Its the leader that chooses to make his Marines put that RUCK on and follow them for a PT session that will pay dividends in the chosen professional.
As Military athletes we are faced with the decision when we wake up to either put that ruck on and put in work or chose the rack and take the easy way out.
I have been stationed with Marine Corps Recruiting Command for the last two years and have been faced with this situation every morning as I am at a Staff Billet right now that doesn’t require me to go to the field.
As a Military Athlete it doesn’t matter where we get stationed or what we are doing. We have sworn an oath and if we aren’t ready to go then we are useless. This picture hopefully will remind all those other Military Athletes out there to put that RUCK on and get better.
Choosing the rack over the RUCK will never get you better, never get your team better, definitely will not make our country any safer.
“I’d just returned from my first deployment to Iraq and the Battalion was gearing up to test for the Expert Infantryman Badge. The first event was a twelve mile ruck march. Nothing too difficult – 35lbs of dry weight, weapons, and load bearing equipment in under three hours. But I wanted a good time.
Straight back from deployment and I hadn’t been rucking much as a Mech Infantry Platoon Leader. I took off at a brisk pace. One by one people started to fall behind. Finally, after about a hour and five minutes, I’d hit the turnaround point. Six miles left to go.
The ruck and lack of training was beginning to wear on me. I saw I had a good lead on everyone so I decided to slow my pace a bit. I kept pushing forward, fighting the cramping that was starting in my legs, alternating between jogging and walking as I pushed through the last five miles. I occasionally looked back but didn’t see anyone in sight.
Only fifteen minutes out I was making good time, but I could tell I was about out of gas. With the end of the course in sight I decided to take up a brisk walk rather than risk cramping up further.
As I approached I could see the finish line and the Company First Sergeant waving me in. That’s when I heard him yell out to me, “don’t let him catch you sir!”
I turned around to see SSG Carpenter coming up on me at full speed. I was a mere twenty feet away from completion after twelve miles of mostly running, and I wasn’t going to lose now.
Just as I took the first stride to break off into a jog, my entire body cramped up, and I fell flat on my face. I was in first place in the company for the entirety of the course until the last 20 feet, when he caught me.
He came in first, and I crawled across the finish line a close second.
You can accomplish more than you think you’re capable of, if you just keep pushing.”
“When I think about what is involved in being a military athlete, two things come to mind: body armor and kettle bells.
Military operations in hostile environments will almost always require service members to wear body armor. Being able to move effectively, efficiently, and powerfully with the added weight of body armor and combat gear is absolutely essential to combat effectiveness. Training in body armor is the only way to create the fitness level required to operate in body armor. The versatility and portability of kettle bell makes it a very useful tool for military physical training. They make it possible to get an intense, productive workout in a limited amount of time with a limited amount of space.
Whether on deployment with limited exercise equipment or in the middle of a busy training cycle, a kettle bell allows military athletes to maintain, and even improve, their fitness with a single implement.
The words “Sweat More. Bleed Less” are inspired by the expression “the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” This expression is often overused by instructors at physically intense military schools, but that doesn’t make it any less true. It is safe to say any member of the military, regardless of branch or specialty, is familiar with the saying.
The worst ruck of my life: It was the middle of the summer in the Florida panhandle. The heat index was pushing 115 degrees Fahrenheit and the relative humidity was almost high enough to swim in.
I was nearing the end of a 12-month school and the instructors were taking my class of six guys out for a morning PT session. Everyone had a 45lb ruck, regardless of their size. I got a certain level of satisfaction out of the ruck weight, since it finally evened the playing field between myself and the lightweight distance runner in my class.
Everyone was soaked with sweat before we even completed the first mile. Our instructors took turns driving the safety vehicle behind us as we made our way out to a beach almost three miles away. We then proceeded to bear crawl, crab walk, and sprint up and down the beach before grabbing our rucks to head back home. We had just started to run back when the instructors informed us the safety vehicle had “broken down.”
There wasn’t a single thing wrong with the vehicle, but just letting us run back with our rucks would have been far too easy. So my small class of six made a plan to rotate through as we pushed and rucked our way home. Between the heat and humidity and the PT itself, we were all smoked by the time we finished.”
I ended up in the surface Navy accidentally, but the Gator Navy by uninformed choice.
The Gator Navy isn’t glamorous; our ships are slow and the farthest thing from majestic as we lumber through the water with humvees and 7-tons strapped to our decks, container boxes strapped down under our ungainly looking cranes.
For the majority of three years, an amphibious ship (an LSD) was home while I was forward deployed out of Japan in support of the 31st MEU, on the Tortuga and Ashland.
The reason that my accidental entrance in to the Navy was from from the worst thing was because in my command I was encouraged to be my best, in whatever possible way – we were unafraid.
Maybe because of that, my first two commands defied the stereotypes of the surface Navy. I was encouraged to fail, to thrive, to be my distinct self. I was encouraged and cheered on to be my best physical self as much as professional self, something the Navy doesn’t often put hand in hand.
While I still haven’t achieved my best self, I hold onto that spirit as I go other places in the Navy.