FORT BLISS, TX Sgt. 1st Class Giovanni Albach never found a sport he didn't like.
"I don't care if it was spoon racing, I know I will do well on it. I constantly push myself to do well, because I love competition. It allows you to bring out the best in yourself," Albach said. "I'm not one of those people that can sleep in, I don't care where I am, I can be in an airport and you'll find me doing push-ups. I won't fall off my physical fitness regime."
The New Mexico native said he also pushed himself academically but chose a career in the military to support his family.
"I did very well in school. I maintained straight A's and had a scholarship to New Mexico State but I chose to support my family in the Philippines and the military was able to help me accomplish this mission. I love the military and that will never change," Albach said.
What did change was Albach's body, as years of wear and tear led to knee injuries and a total of four surgeries between 2001 to 2019.
"I was honestly scared because I'm 40 years old and the doctors said I was not going to recover as fast. I used it as fuel. It's not how old you are, it's how you feel in your heart and having good positive vibes along with being mentally fit will help you physically," Albach said.
While stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, he was selected as part of the staff to attend the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games at West Point Military Academy. He says the experience was a game changer.
"I was just watching the athletes that were participating and it was truly amazing. They became an inspiration because I saw how hard they worked out and here I am now in this position recovering at the WTB. It was an unexpected place to be."
Albach recently joined nearly 100 wounded, ill or injured athletes at Fort Bliss, Texas, competing for a spot for Team Army during the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games, June 21 30, in Tampa, Florida. During the trials, Albach is competing in rowing, cycling, track, seated volleyball, Wheelchair basketball, wheelchair basketball and tennis events.
"My day starts at 4 a.m. I start with a motivational movie and then I try give my work out the best I can. Being around these athletes has been a blessing in itself, we have amputees participating, and they have struggles," said Albach. "I have an injured knee and that's nothing in comparison to my teammates. I see how these (Soldiers) push themselves and it makes me work a million times harder. I want to hit my mark and win, I don't want to check the box."
The automated logistics specialist says competing at Army trials has taught him an important lesson he wants to leave with his children.
"You've got to stay positive no matter what life throws at you. Change is going to happen, and you can't be complacent. You've got to be ready."