Jason Sturm, Vice Chairman
In March 2002, I was training with my Army unit at Ft. Drum, NY when an adjacent artillery unit accidentally fired two rounds short of their target, striking our position. Thirteen soldiers were injured and two soldiers lost their lives. I suffered severe injuries to my left leg that, after several failed surgeries and attempts at limb salvage, I chose to have amputated below the knee. My recovery was extremely painful, but I was determined to return to the athleticism I had achieved as a soldier. Although I exercised, I still engaged in poor eating habits and struggled with prosthesis fit. I was overweight until I got serious about my overall fitness in 2007. I learned to run again and lost nearly 40lbs of fat. More importantly, I started to become an athlete, which is something I had never been in my life. I ran several 5k, 10k, and 10-mile races, but something always seemed to be missing in my training.
CrossFit and Competition
I was introduced to CrossFit in early 2011. At first, I was skeptical and did not believe that I could do the movements and exercises that I saw able-bodied athletes perform. But I jumped in foot first [see what I did there?] and started doing CrossFit on my own at the local gym. I joined my first CrossFit box mid-year and worked tirelessly to adapt movements I had trouble with due to my missing leg. I learned a lot about my mental toughness and started to develop a presence in the CrossFit community as an athlete, with several mid-WOD photos appearing on CrossFit’s blog and Facebook pages. I successfully performed all repetitions as prescribed in the 2012 and 2013 CrossFit Games open WODs and only took the 2014 season off to return to school and to serve as the affiliate manager for my home box.
In November of 2012, I helped to organize and I competed in the inaugural Working Wounded Games: a CrossFit style competition for adaptive athletes. I was instrumental in conducting outreach and recruiting athletes to participate in the event. As an Ambassador, I have helped grow the Working Wounded Games from the initial 23 athletes to over 60 registered athletes and growing. I am constantly reaching out to athletes on social media to build the growing network of adaptive athletes and CrossFitters worldwide. In both the 2012 and 2013 Working Wounded Games, I placed in the top five in the limb dysfunction category.
Coaching, CrossFit Walter Reed and Charity Work
In May 2012, CrossFit Games Athlete Christy Phillips (Adkins) introduced me to CrossFit Walter Reed (CFWR). I immediately found that I have something to offer as a wounded service member. I am able to mentor and coach fellow (and newly) wounded athletes based on my personal experiences adapting movements to my own physical limitations. I have the unique ability to connect directly with these athletes and to let them know that their days of participating in challenging fitness programs is not over despite their injuries. That is something the able-bodied coaches are incapable of conveying in a truly meaningful way, despite their immeasurable skills, experiences, and commitment to the athletes. I continue to build a large presence in the CrossFit community through coaching, competing, and charitable work. I am most passionate about adaptive athletes, particularly wounded service members.
Since beginning CrossFit in 2011, I have attended the CrossFit Level 1 Certification Course. CrossFit Level 2 Certification, CrossFit Kids Certification, CrossFit Kettlebell Instructor’s Course, CrossFit Gymnastics Certification and USAW Weightlifting Level 1 Certification Course.
I am now one of the head coaches at CFWR, where I program and lead classes for wounded service members and their families, as well as hospital caregivers. In addition to my volunteer work at CFWR, I have been coaching at CrossFit Rubicon since 2012, where I have worked hard to absorb as much knowledge as possible. I have also recently begun coaching at Balance Gym in the Reebok FitHub in Georgetown.
My reputation in the international CrossFit community and my work with CFWR caught the attention of the editors of The Box magazine. They wrote the September/October 2014 feature (cover) article about me and my experiences as a recovering wounded service member and my efforts at CFWR. The highlight of the article was about my drive and coaching methodology, and how I give back to the community.
I am the Vice President of Crossroads Adaptive Athletic Alliance, a non-profit organization that seeks to build a network of gyms that can increase the inclusion of athletes of all ability levels by training coaches to train adaptive athletes. Primarily, we teach adaptive coaching seminars, which focus on evaluation, scaling, and relationship-building with adaptive athletes in CrossFit gyms.
Additionally, I am the Captain of the Yellow Ribbon Fund’s Veteran TUF (Veteran’s Taking Up Fitness) team, which assists veterans who are fighting the physical and psychological demons of war. We offer fitness and the social aspect of CrossFit as an alternative to alcohol, substance abuse, isolation, and depression. We have attended several Civilian Military Combine events and are proponents of sport as a rehabilitative tool.
Pat Tillman Military Scholar
In 2013, I decided to return to school to pursue a Bachelors degree in Kinesiology in an effort to better equip myself to apply principles of physical training to the distinct needs of my athletes. I competed for and was awarded the Pat Tillman Military Scholarship, as one of 20 individuals selected from over 1,500 applicants. The goal of the Pat Tillman Foundation is to advance Pat’s legacy through the efforts of scholars who embody selfless service to their community. My application process for the Pat Tillman Foundation and to George Mason University were documented by a team of film students in a short documentary that is currently making its way through the film festival circuit. It has been screened at the GI Film Festival and the Red Rock Film Festival.
Para Bobsled and the 2018 Winter Olympics
In November 2014, I was invited to train with and compete for a position on the U.S. Adaptive Bobsled team. The sport is vying to be included in the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. I recently learned how to push and brake for the two-man bobsleds used in North America. An athlete from the United Kingdom and I won the exhibition World Cup event in Calgary, Canada, beating out three other adaptive teams. Due to my attention to detail and track preparation with my driver, I was invited to attend the training and to compete in the World Cup races in January 2015 in Innsbruck, Austria and St. Moritz, Switzerland. This event will be crucial to the sport because I will be the first American para-bobsledder to push and drive the mono-bobsled (single man sled) in a race. This will also be the first of many races to formally qualify the sport for the 2018 winter games. I am already spreading my brand through the international community and introducing my name on a global scale.« Back