Story by Cpl. Charlotte Fitzgerald
U.S. Army Reserve Command
FORT MCCOY, Wis. - Normally, Sgt. Marshall Gross has six other team members to rely on during rugby football competitions; however, for the 2013 Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition, Gross’ only team member is himself.
Although it is a very different type of competition, Gross said playing Rugby helped him prepare for the 2013 Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition, being held here, because it involves a lot of cardiovascular exercise.
“(In Rugby,) not only do you have to tackle people, you also run around and organize offenses and defenses at the same time,” Gross, a Mesa, Ariz., native, representing the 200th Military Police Command based out of Scottsdale, Ariz.,. “So it really keeps you on the balls of your feet the whole game time. It is an extremely physical sport so that kind of plays into the Army and having to do multiple things at once.”
Although a typical rugby game is approximately 90 minutes long, the Best Warrior Competition lasts four days and consists of many rigorous events. Gross said this is his first time competing for the Best Warrior competition and it has provided him with several opportunities so far.
“Originally, I had started competing because I wanted to see what it was like, to see how I matched up and then it has kind of turned to the opportunities that have risen from being here,” he said. He said he has already been offered slots for Airborne and Air Assault school and he is hoping to get a slot in Ranger school.
Gross, an Interment Resettlement Specialist, said he also prepared for the competition by training at Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps base in California, for two weeks. He also went on his own rucksack marches, ensured he completed lots of cardio exercise and studied his warrior tasks and skills in preparation for the competition he said.
“My biggest competitor is myself,” Gross said. “I am my worst critic and my biggest motivator, but also de-motivator because I tend to judge myself harder than anybody else will.”
Gross said his biggest motivator throughout the competition will be his personal fortitude and more than anything, he wants to see how he will do personally.
“I hate coming in last, so I am going to push myself harder and harder every day,” he said.
Although participating in this competition is a big accomplishment for each Soldier, Gross said his best Army achievement so far was earning the rank of sergeant. Outside of the Army, Gross’ biggest achievement was his recent marriage in January, he said.
“She is very proud of me and all that I have been able to accomplish,” he said. Gross said his wife is also supportive of his avid rugby habit.
While Gross is pushing himself through the Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition, his rugby team is also fighting for a chance to qualify for an upcoming national tournament. Gross hopes his team wins, despite his absence.
“My goal is to reach at least that tournament so that we can have that experience because it’s a pretty big deal in the rugby world,” he said. “Just getting there would be amazing.”
Gross said he expects to learn a lot from the competition and he hopes to take a few of his lessons learned from the competition back to his unit to help train his fellow Soldiers and better himself as a non-commissioned officer.
“I am ecstatic to be here. It is a very exciting thing,” he said. “There is nothing that I am not looking forward to.”
Just as rugby combines wrestling, soccer and football into one sport; the Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition will combine all of the tasks and skills a Soldier is required to know into one competition.
“I am determined,” Gross said. “My biggest competitor is myself.”