Volunteer strength coach competes in warrior trials

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Sean Campbell
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Recently Brett Campfield, 336th Training Group volunteer strength coach, competed in the Air Force Warrior Trials, a Wounded Warriors program event for Airmen to compete for a Warrior Games team slot. He was selected for the team to compete in indoor rowing, cycling, archery, track and sitting volleyball.

During the Warrior Games, U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Australian and British military teams compete against each other in different athletic challenges. This year, the games are being hosted by the Air Force in Colorado Springs, June 2-9.

Campfield’s road to the games inadvertently started in 2007 when he enlisted as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal technician.

While serving as an EOD Airman on his second deployment, Campfield and another Airman were moving equipment from one vehicle to another. While moving a bag of pen flares, one misfired, blasting a piece of metal into his eye. Immediately after, he was rushed to emergency care and had to have his eye removed.

Campfield medically retired from the Air Force, but this didn’t stop him from wanting to aid the mission.

Campfield moved to Spokane in 2017. He started going to the Fairchild Air Force Base gym where he met a Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialist who told him about the SERE strength coach position. As a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Campfield saw an opportunity and contacted Zach Bilbrey, 336th Training Group strength coach, to see if he would be interested in having an intern.

“About a month and a half later he shot me a message back and said ‘Hey, I’m working on the paperwork,’” Campfield said. “Now I’m here five days a week anywhere from 20 to 30 hours.”

One of Campfield’s favorite aspects of volunteering as a strength coach is working with Airmen.

“It’s refreshing to be here,” Campfield said. “I built a lot of my own character in a military setting. As an EOD tech, I’ve pushed my body to its limit, and I’ve hurt myself along the way because I didn’t have the guidance that I can now give these Airmen. The SERE Airmen really accepted me with open arms; I’m super jazzed to be here every day!”

Campfield and Bilbrey work with SERE instructors hand-in-hand on a weekly basis to establish a workout regime that they monitor closely.

“We’re not here to make them squat as much as they can every day,” said Campfield. “We’re here to help them build up their capabilities, both as SERE specialists and as Airmen. This way they can accomplish whatever mission it is that they have to.”

As well as doing the strength and conditioning program, Campfield aids with preventing injuries and targeting possible issues with what he calls “prehab”. Often SERE instructors come back from the field with physical issues. When Campfield and Bilbrey are confronted with this, they research exercises to prevent further pain and allow the instructors to accomplish their mission efficiently while staying healthy.

“Brett has made it a possibility to extend the capabilities for us in the strength program,” said Bilbrey. “He’s built onto the program and has allowed us to do things I couldn’t have done on my own.”

For Campfield, competing in the Warrior Games and strength coaching build off of each other, and he’ll apply what he learns from competing in the games to his coaching and how he can help people down the road.

"When I was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician, I had a focus of being the best EOD tech I could be so I could accomplish the mission to the best of my abilities,” Campfield said. “When I got out of the military that disappeared; coaching and the trials have given me something to work toward and improve on.”