Sergeant uses unique motivation for physical fitness

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Spencer Gallien
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
The Scottish Highland Games.

Not the most well known of sporting events, although to Staff Sgt. Jonathan Phillips, 23rd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, it's one of the ultimate tests of strength, endurance and body control.

According to the Southeastern Scottish Amateur Athletic Association, the Scottish Highland Games began around the year 1057 as a way for Scottish rulers to improve the military and choose the best men for a king or chief's personal guard.

Sergeant Phillips, who's participated in the SSAAA since 2006, pointed out that athletes still take part in those same events as a way to have fun and stay physically fit.

Events in the competition include Tossing the Caber, where the competitor attempts to throw a 18-21 foot log that weighs anywhere between 100-130 pounds end-over-end, and Throwing the Hammer, where participants attempt to heave a 16-22 pound hammer as far as they can from a fixed position.

Sergeant Phillips pointed out that in addition to learning the technique in each event, highland athletes must have a strict workout regiment that would also help Airmen in the fit to fight Air Force.

Bill Gray, who met Sergeant Phillips at the Tallahassee games in 2006, explained that training includes Olympic style weightlifting, power lifting and heavy deadlifting, which is when the lifter stands erect with a loaded barbell from the floor.

"The competition is just good, clean family fun," said Sergeant Phillips. "I bring my wife and kids out to the games and they get to enjoy a day out as well."

Mr. Gray said that the events usually include other entertainment besides the games including sheep dog demonstrations, highland dancing, bag pipers and parades.

"Occasionally we will have people dressed in 1700-era clothing," said Mr. Gray. "The 2009 Central Florida Highland Games will even host armored knights battling."

Events in the games also include the Open Stone Put, Braemar Stone Put, 56-pound Weight for Distance, 28-pound Weight for Distance, Sheaf Toss and the 56-pound Weight for Height.

"I just want to get our young Airmen involved," said Sergeant Phillips. "This is a way to get involved with the community in a fun, safe way. The events also motivate Airmen to live a healthy Air Force lifestyle."

For more information on the Scottish Highland games, call Sergeant Phillips at 257-2142.