Defense Warrior Games in Chicago –
ARLINGTON, Va - Competing in sports on a national stage can be lifechanging and memorable. If you’re lucky, both. You may remember Sgt. David Crook as a member of Team Army in 2017.
“My first experience with Team Army was at Fort Hood with regional trials. I liked trying out different sports. By the time Army Trials came around I figured out I was pretty good at throwing heavy objects.” His heavy object of choice is a 4.4-pound discus.
“Everybody kind of knows me for the field event at the Chicago Warrior Games. I told Coach Adriane when I got there, the distance marked out seemed short to me for discus throw; she told me it’s what we had to work with. I then I told my wife don’t sit anywhere down low at the edge of the field. It’s not safe because I know I can throw it into the stands.”
He did. Not only did the stands at Soldier Field feel the brunt of the power thrown by Crook, so did a General observing the competition on the field.
“There was a General standing there that said I’ll do a push up if you can hit that wall. When I got strapped in, I asked if they would ask the family sitting in the stands to move.” It was a good thing they did.
“My second or third official throw I sent it into the stands. The General had to do pushups right there,” laughed Crook.
Today Crook looks back on his Army career, how it was disrupted, and, what adaptive reconditioning in the now Army Recovery Care Program did for him.
“I was gone from my wife more than we were together during our marriage. The deployments, the time in the WTU. That all changed in 2018 when we had Alexander. He was the youngest cheerleader at the Warrior Games in Colorado that year at 5 weeks old,” said Crook who competed a second year on Team Army as well.
He spent eight years in the Army before a knee injury on a deployment in 2015 took him out of the game, eventually needing a knee replacement. He was crushed.
“Who wouldn’t want to spend 20 years in the Army? That was my goal. I was an Army brat, so I didn’t see a downside in having a career in the Army. Warrior Games helped get me out of a bad place. It made me realize I can still do things and feel accomplished. Plus, I was able to still represent the Army,” reflects Crook who went through the soldier Recovery Unit at Fort Sam Houston; the very place he learned about adaptive sports. He’s got sound advice for future Soldiers who end up at an SRU and encourages them to seek out adaptive sports.
“You can’t just sit in your house for the rest of your life. When you do adaptive sports, it helps you with physical recovery and it helps you get out of your head. If you just sit in your room all day thinking about what you can’t do, you start thinking the wrong things and that can lead to bad decisions,” explained Crook.
He worked in the Texas oil fields before he got hurt and knew he could go back there after the military. “I went to crane school thanks to the VA, and I got all my certifications. I now work in the oil fields as a crane operator. It’s good money and it supports my family.”
He’s still involved in adaptive sports, playing wheelchair basketball, field events and wheelchair tennis. “I go to practice when I can. We have tournaments I play in, and I even coach a wheelchair basketball team called the Bad News Chairs,” he says with a laugh.
Crook is thankful for the knowledge and growth he gained in the SRU. For anyone experiencing change or a setback, in any part of life he stresses communication.
“Talk about it. You don’t have to recover on your own. Reach out. I know I’m a lucky son of a gun, not going to lie- you must look ahead. Look at what you can do and don’t give up.