Article

Andrew Koch: Always Faithful

Published on Sat, 2013-03-09 06:00
By: 
Jen Cochran

“We are Marines. The nation expects us to be fit in all aspects of our lives: mentally fit, morally and ethically fit and physically fit. As Marines, we say that we are the best this nation has to offer, and I truly believe that.”


 

“I have gone ‘round and ‘round with myself trying to find a way to justify competing this year,” Andrew Koch, the 2012 North Central Regional fifth-place finisher, says. “However, I have to remind myself that I have a career and obligation to our country, as well as a young family who needs and deserves my focus. Something has to go to the back burner, (and) this year, that’s going to have to be competing for a spot at the Games.”

Over the last eight years, Koch has climbed the ranks in the U.S. Marine Corps. Now, the 31-year-old Captain is a Marine Air and Ground Task Force Intelligence Officer. His work has taken him around the globe, with training and assignments on the East Coast and Midwest of the U.S. and Japan, and two tours of combat duty — first to Al Anbar Province, Iraq (2007), in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and second to Helmand Province, Afghanistan (2009), in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

For the last three years, he and his family have been stationed in Springfield, Mo. But that’s about to change, with a move this spring, potentially followed by deployment.

The move, training and deployment, are all regular parts of military service. What’s gotten under his skin is the idea that he’s on the far edge of his prime. Taking a year off means he’ll be even older and facing even younger competition.

“It’s difficult because I’m already older than the average competitor, and I’m not getting any younger,” he says.

Yet, he hasn’t given up hope that he can retain his competitive edge through training and nutrition. After all, Matt Chan took second at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games at 34.

“I know that I can come back next year and be just as competitive,” Koch says.

When he returns to competition in 2014, he’ll face a whole new roster of competitors. By that time, he and his family will have relocated to San Diego, Calif. He says he’ll miss competing with his friends in North Central.

“(The North Central) community is tight, and one of the things I’ll miss is seeing and competing with some of the guys I’ve become close with the past two years,” he says.

Imagining the North Central without Koch is one thing, but imagining CrossFit Springfield without the Koch, however, is quite another.

“Andy and Elizabeth have had a tremendous impact on our box,” Grant Wistrom, co-owner of CrossFit Springfield, says. “Between Andy volunteering his time to coach the Saturday Hero WODs each week, and Elizabeth having helped to create endurance and nutrition programs, their leaving will create a giant void in our home.”

Koch says he will miss the box, as well.

“CrossFit Springfield has been unlike anything we had ever imagined, and it has made this our favorite duty station so far,” Koch says. “We have made such wonderful friends — it has truly changed our lives.”

He’s made it clear he recognizes there is a lot more at play than his life, feelings and competition goals. The return to active duty also takes a toll on his family, and he says he feels fortunate to have such strong support from his wife, Elizabeth.

“I signed up for this and, in marrying me, my wife did, as well,” he says. “I am extremely blessed to have a strong wife who is very independent and does not need me around to keep our family running. She is the key to making this military life work for us, and if it weren’t for her strength, I would not have stayed in past my initial obligation.”

To Koch, fitness is a part of his civilian life and military duty.

“We are Marines. The nation expects us to be fit in all aspects of our lives: mentally fit, morally and ethically fit and physically fit. As Marines, we say that we are the best this nation has to offer, and I truly believe that.”

 

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