Army Pilot Giving Back to the Game that Taught Him Sacrifice

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By Adam Reed, Associate Editor

Rob Wright is about as American as it gets. He loves sports, spending time with family and enjoys the simple things in life.

He also flies Black Hawk helicopters for a living.

Wright grew up in small town U.S.A.,  Greeneville, Tennessee, to be precise. How he came to be paid by the United States Army to patrol the skies is a story that involves a lot of football and life lessons, and it starts with a desire to serve.

Wright remembers 9-11 and the resurgence in patriotism that came with it. But for him, like so many young men his age, there was always a deeply rooted sense of pride and a desire to protect our American way of life.

“I always wanted a path to serve and be in the fight,” Wright says. “But I also wanted to play football, specifically for a D1 team.”

Wright wasn’t a star athlete in his younger years,  but in his sophomore year of high school, he made up his mind to play football for  a Division 1 team after graduation. It was shortly thereafter that Wright had an epiphany.

One day while watching the Army vs. Navy game with his father, the “lightbulb came on” for Wright. He told his dad that West Point was the opportunity he had been searching for – a chance to play ball and fulfill his desire to serve at the same time.

After setting his sights on West Point, Wright put in the hard work in the weight room to get noticed. It paid off in his senior year,  scoring 12 touchdowns and racking up nearly a thousand yards.

Even after putting in the work in high school, nothing came easy for Wright. Recruiters weren’t exactly blowing up his phone, in fact Wright practically recruited himself. Getting a scholarship wasn’t any easier.

Two years into his football career at West Point, Wright made the tough decision to hang up the cleats and start working with the coaching staff. He had achieved his goal of playing football at a Division 1 school, but it was clear there was more service than football in his future.

“I loved West Point and the opportunity I had there,” Wright says. “I think it’s great for any athlete. There aren’t too many 22-year-olds you’re going to meet that are in charge of 20 people or $85 million worth of equipment. It’s just an unbelievable amount of responsibility and it helps you become so mature compared to the rest of your peer group.”

During his time as a student assistant, Wright began to see ways in which he could give back to the game. One area in particular stood out to him. An area that had a significant impact in his own life – strength and conditioning.

“I became pretty close with coach Scott Swanson, the head strength and conditioning coach at West Point,” Wright says. “I saw his process of how they did their workouts, and just about everyone was doing it the same way at the time.

“They had these massive spreadsheets that are twenty miles long and have a million tabs on them.” Wright recalls. “They had to calculate all the weights by changing player maxes and they couldn’t really track progress over time because they were dealing with such massive amounts of data.”

Wright realized there had to be a better way. With today’s technology, why should coaches have to do all that extra work? Why hasn’t someone put together some intelligent software that could do all the calculations and progress tracking automatically?

It wasn’t long after this that Wright started to work on AthleteEquip, a fully customizable software system that does all of those things, along with a few extras. It was the perfect opportunity for a young entrepreneur with a love of the game.

Wright has been working tirelessly since AthleteEquip’s inception to help coaches discover the benefits of automating their strength and conditioning program.  It’s not an easy sell for some coaches who are set in their ways, but Wright is convinced that if they just give it a chance, it won’t take them long to see the benefits.

“Our software company brings technology to the forefront of athletic training,” Wright says. “It has the potential to revolutionize the way athletes and teams train and track performance.”

It’s all just a part of giving back to the game that taught Wright about service in the first place. Wright witnessed the transformation at his own high school in Greenville when they implemented a new strength program, now he’s making it easier for coaches all over the country to have the same experience.

“I started this because I saw a problem, and it’s a problem that a lot of coaches have,” Wright says. “I want to help. If you’re a coach you aren’t just a coach. You’re a mentor, a teacher, a husband and you have other duties inside the community as well.”

Coaches are responsible for so many different areas of importance. It’s Wright’s goal to free up time for coaches so they can spend less time worrying about how much their athletes are benching, and more time developing them into better citizens, teammates and sons, and future husbands and fathers.

“High school coaches were some of the most influential people in my life,” Wright says. “Besides your parents they are the next role model that you have and you spend a lot of time with them. I still talk to all of my high school coaches, and we have a great friendship now.

“You just don’t know how influential you are as a coach. I sometimes take it for granted even now, just being in charge of about twenty soldiers in my platoon. The things I say to them, and the way treat them, and the way I interact with them is going to make them remember me. They’re always going to remember me, the only question is what are they going to remember me for?”

And that’s a question every coach should be asking.

About AthleteEquip:

  • Automatically calculate athletes’ estimated one rep max after each workout.
  • Update progress graphs, real time leaderboards and adjusts weights in future workouts.
  • Send out text messages or emails to your entire team or individual athletes.
  • Access an extensive library featuring over 375 exercises complete with pictures, descriptions, and videos.
  • Manage your entire schedule on a location by location basis, and sync it all with Google Calendar.

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