DVIDS – News – Navy recruiter and navy wrestler aims to become world champion
Second Class Interior Communications Electrician Austin Craig, originally from Monroe, North Carolina, leads his life in pursuit of two goals: to recruit only the most qualified people with whom he would proudly serve alongside, and to become a champion of Olympic world. Wrestler one day. As a Navy recruiter assigned to the Pacific Northwest Navy Talent Acquisition Group and a member of the entire Navy wrestling team, Craig dedicates his life to making these goals a reality.
Craig is a Navy Special Warfare Program Talent Recruiter. Its mission is to find the best and brightest men and women who are ready to embark on one of the toughest training pipelines in the world.
âI am the first line of defense for the quality of the Navy, and I hold it to a high standard. I am looking for the next generation of elite sailors. Every person I put in the Navy is someone I would proudly serve with and I stay true to that, âsaid Craig.
When he’s not looking for or preparing for the Navy’s next elite warrior team, he’s training to win an Olympic gold medal as a member of the All-Navy Wrestling team.
Wrestling, however, hasn’t always been Craig’s passion. As a young athlete, he was passionate about football and athletics before an impromptu decision led him to discover wrestling.
âI was in seventh grade and had finished reading my book assignment twice when I heard an ad inviting anyone interested in wrestling to sign up for the front office,â says Craig. “I used that as an excuse to take a walk because I was bored.”
He didn’t realize that this decision would give him new passion and change the meaning of his life. However, Craig’s first year of wrestling didn’t go very well. Despite being the underdog of the team, he kept a positive attitude and worked hard to improve.
âI lost almost every official game in the first year,â says Craig. âBut I was never a let go. I knew I had to overcome a learning curve so I went to train every day and gave it my all. The coaches really perfected my wrestling style and helped me improve.
Craig’s hard work paid off, and soon he was unstoppable on the wrestling team.
âThe following year was a brilliant season and I won every game. It was phenomenal, âsays Craig.
While in high school, Craig went on to be a successful wrestler and student. As an athlete, he also played football, volleyball and competed in athletics. As a student he had good grades and was elected class president of the student body.
âI am grateful for my high school wrestling career. It shaped me. It gave me that passion.
His successes earned him a wrestling scholarship, where he studied pharmacy at Campbell University in North Carolina.
âThe wrestling scholarship got me an undergraduate degree, but I wasn’t sure how I would pay for my graduate studies,â Craig said. âIt was then that a family friend informed me of the educational benefits the Navy had to offer and the Armed Forces sports program. I went to talk to a recruiter, and I knew right away that I wanted to fight for the Navy.
Craig joined the Navy in 2013 and immediately after graduating from basic, he focused on testing for the All-Navy Wrestling team.
“I actually tried to sign up for the wrestling team when I was in ‘A’ school, but I was told I had to wait until I got to my first command,” Craig explains. âAs soon as I reported to my first command, the USS Nimitz, the very first question I asked was how to apply. My first request was to attend the All-Navy wrestling trials.
Craig’s management informed him that his priority should be to be a great sailor before approving his application.
âFrom that point on, the mission came first and I was dedicated to being the best sailor I could be,â says Craig. âAs I learned my job, got qualifications, and got involved in command, I had to make sure my command knew that I wasn’t just here for a paycheck. I am here to contribute to the mission and do my job. But also, I have personal goals that I hope to achieve.
Craig took the lead and did everything he could to be the best sailor he could be.
âI volunteered for whatever I could and was very involved. My peers elected me president of the Junior Enlisted Association and I was the deputy chief of physical conditioning in command, âsays Craig.
His success aboard the USS Nimitz paved the way for command leadership to approve his test request for the All-Navy Wrestling team. But, despite his focus and passion, he didn’t make the team the first year.
âI had never been excluded from a team before. I entered the first camp without knowing anything about freestyle wrestling or Greek style, âsays Craig. âI could have given up but instead I worked as hard as I could to improve during the offseason. I tried again the following year and joined the team, which was a huge accomplishment for me. And every offseason from there, I kept improving.
Craig’s first game in an Armed Forces tournament was against a 2012 Olympian.
âI lost the game, but I was the only person in the tournament to score against him,â says Craig. âIt was then that I realized that I was close to being part of the Olympic team.
Craig’s hard work and drive to become a better wrestler led to his selection as the captain of the All-Navy Wrestling team in 2018. But that achievement was only the beginning.
“I’m not happy to be one of the best in the Navy team because the ultimate goal is to be nationally ranked, to win the Armed Forces championship and to win Olympic gold.”
The All-Navy Wrestling team traditionally receives about 2-3 months of formal training or âmat timeâ each year compared to other departments which receive dedicated training year round. This means Navy wrestlers need to be motivated and train harder whenever they can. Craig’s assignment as a Special Warfare talent recruiter allows him to train further while completing his mission in the Navy.
âWhen the candidates are training physically and these men and women are athletes, I’m there to train with them,â says Craig. “It allows me to have intense training all year round instead of the two months I would have otherwise. It’s great for me as I train for the season ahead.”
Intense physical training all year round and number one ranked American wrestler and Olympian 2020-2021, Marine Staff Sgt. John Stefanowicz, as a wrestling training partner, prepares house master Craig for success as he embarks on his mission to compete in the upcoming World Olympics.
âI am very grateful for this opportunity and grateful to my leaders and everyone who supported me throughout the process,â said Craig. âI love the Navy! I wanted to be a recruiter because I want people to know all the Navy has to offer. I was the kid who knew nothing about the Navy. Today, eight years later, I have the best job in the world and I’m chasing my dreams of becoming the best wrestler in the world.
Navy Talent Acquisition Group Pacific Northwest is headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Its area of ââresponsibility includes more than 34 Navy recruiting stations and Navy officer recruiting stations in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.
|Date posted:||09.23.2021 18:37|
|Site:||SEATTLE, WA, United States|
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