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“I was wounded by a roadside bomb September 19 of 2008,” United States Marine Corps Sergeant Michael Pride said.
Pride’s journey was just beginning. After being crushed by his overturned Humvee, Pride spent the next two years rehabbing in San Diego where he was first introduced to the warrior games.
“The warrior games came about in 2010,” Pride said. “They asked me if I wanted to compete, and I asked them what sports? I had never heard of this. They said, ‘well we have track and field’, and I was like ‘hey, I’ll do track. I ran track in high school.”
The Kansas City native soon became too fast to compete in the warrior games, but he loved being around the program so he stuck on as a coach. His colonel made a few phone calls and the University of Kansas extended an invite for Pride to come up to Lawrence and train with some of the best, including the basketball teams lead strength and conditioning trainer Andrea Hudy.
“I’m like okay, let me see what she’s really about,” Pride said. “It blew me away. Her resume is just unbelievable. I’m surprised she’s not a marine herself.”
Pride is there to learn from the sports performance staff, but the staff and student-athletes are learning just as much from him.
“I think he’s teaching our guys and our women the leadership skills of the marines are very parallel with those in athletics, but the ultimate outcome could be the ultimate sacrifice for him.” strength coach Hudy said.
It’s Sergeant Pride’s mental and emotional strength that impresses Coach Hudy the most. He may be one of the fastest marines around, but it’s his ability to overcome that separates him from others.
“The story he shared, his personal story is unbelievable,” said Hudy. “I’ll never forget it. He shared that with the men and women, and I think they’re looking at, ‘hey, I have to step my game up.’ He influenced them in five minutes with his story.”
The student-athletes may look at him as a hero, but the feeling is mutual.
“It’s been amazing, especially being able to work and meet the athletes that are here,” Pride said. “Especially the men’s basketball team. Them just reaching out to me the way that they have done has been impressive, because they just bring me in and treat me like family.”
That’s very fitting for an athletics program whose unofficial motto is family over everything.