“Being a Marine, that’s my job. I keep in mind all the Marines who have made the ultimate sacrifice and the sorrow of their families who will never see them again. Civilians often forget that freedom is not free. I refuse to forget that."
Not long after 2nd Lt. Taylor Drescher completed Marine Corps basic training, she was told she could walk away from the military forever.
“While I was waiting for my report date at T.B.S. (The Basic School), I was given the option to resign my commission,” she says.
Military sequestration and downsizing gave the 23-year-old an option she wouldn’t take. Her military aspirations are tied to a family tradition that has extended far longer than the current economic downturn, and she plans on keeping it that way. Her grandfather was a Colonel, and her father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marines. When she joins, she will be the third generation to serve.
“The Marine Corps is my No. 1 priority,” she says.
While waiting in military limbo, Drescher did CrossFit.
She went on to take 13th place at the 2012 Central East Regional and follow her CrossFit training from Derby City CrossFit in Louisville, Ky., to CrossFit Conjugate in Cincinnati, Ohio. She now works alongside powerlifters Shane and Laura Sweatt.
“My goal was to get as strong as possible,” she says. “That’s why I don’t think I did so well in the Open.”
Finishing in 29th in the Central East, she will enter the Regional in the lower half of the field.
Her Open placing fell in line with what she expected. She says she knew if she should get the call to begin her military career while preparing for the 2013 season, she most likely wouldn’t get to work strength as much.
Her strategy paid off. She finally reported to her station at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., on April 23, just more than eight weeks before the Regional.
“I miss all my athletes so much,” she says after leaving. “It was really inspiring how many lives I’ve touched. A lot of people cried. It meant a lot to me that I’d done my job as a coach. Now, I strive to do that as a Marine.”
But the day before she left CrossFit Conjugate, she says she couldn't resist testing her strength once more. She squatted 300 lb., benched 195 and deadlifted 440 lb. She says she was preparing for the long days learning every position the corps had to offer, and that conditioning would take priority over strength for the next few months.
“Even if I drop strength, I’m still stronger than a lot of girls,” she says.
In the months before Drescher was given her green light to continue in the military, she was hitting nearly 10 met-cons a week to keep her wind up. She focused her max effort lifts on cleans, jerks, squats and deadlifts twice a week. She also made it a point to include her weaknesses — pull-ups, handstand push-ups and muscle-ups — but she didn’t get all stressed out about them. She knew she would have plenty of time away from the barbell soon enough.
“We’ll be doing a lot of bodyweight stuff and running now,” she says. “I don’t think I’ll have that much time, so (CrossFit) workouts will mostly be on the weekends.”
Now that she’s on base, Saturdays and Sundays usually mean liberty; a sort of free time where Marines like Drescher can go off site. For her, liberty will be at a box, 20 minutes away.
“I met the owner of CrossFit Woodbridge, Dan Broughton, at a Westside Seminar we hosted in Louisville,” she says. “I stopped in the Monday before I reported in and got a 230-lb. PR on my clean and jerk.”
For now, she’s doing the best she can with what she has, and she’s keeping her priorities in check. In the Marines, it goes loyalty and dedication to God, country, Corps, family and then self.
After a morning that begins at 4:30 a.m., she spends the next six hours or so in class. When she’s released for lunch, she hits a quick bodyweight workout that may contain a version of lunges, squats and pull-ups. If the gym on base has an empty bar, all the better. But she doesn’t count on it.
She’ll usually get a second training session in with her squad. It may be a long run, squad push-ups or even handstand push-ups and pull-ups.
Around 10 p.m., her day ends and she crashes. She says she doesn’t regret a moment of the sacrifices she’s making.
“Being a Marine, that’s my job,” she says. “I keep in mind all the Marines who have made the ultimate sacrifice and the sorrow of their families who will never see them again. Civilians often forget that freedom is not free. I refuse to forget that. I wanna lead Marines and I wanna fight for our country.”
For nearly two years, Drescher has trained for the Games, and even though she’s still unsure if this year is her year, she’ll keep training with one thing in mind: Semper Fi.