Sgt. Michael Pride, a 33-year-old Marine from Kansas City, Mo., who has been awarded the Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Medal and Good Conduct Medal, has been in Lawrence the past several days for instruction and conditioning — Andrea Hudy-style — on Kansas University’s campus.
The superbly conditioned former Wounded Warrior track standout’s goal has not only been to survive the workouts of KU strength-and-conditioning coach Hudy, but pick up pointers regarding techniques and philosophies of training to be used with Marines in general at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and athletes in the Armed Services’ Wounded Warrior Project, for which he is a coach.
“A week before I was told I’d be working with her, I read up on her, and, wow, I was surprised she’s not a Marine herself,” Pride said of Hudy, who is known as one of the most demanding strength-and-conditioning coaches in the business.
“She has a mentality of being a Marine. That’s probably why I clicked with her so quickly and so easily. Everything she says makes sense. You can see her results in all of the athletes that are here at Kansas University. I will take everything she has given me and try my best to give to the Marines back there.”
Pride learned a lot about leadership and training philosophy not only during Hudy’s July 10 speech at Fort Leonard Wood, but during his stay in Lawrence, which has included time spent with men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, baseball and rowing.
“Basically, know your athletes before you put them through training,” Pride said of a major point stressed by Hudy and KU coaches. “Being in the Marine Corps, we believe everybody is on the same playing field. We don’t think about a sense of weakness. Here I’ve learned to have the attitude to know what my expectations are and what I’m trying to accomplish — to learn about them (each Marine) and know what they are capable of before I put them (through drills).”
The cooperation between the Marines and KU has been inspiring, Pride said.
“How the U.S. military can actually get put with a college ... to be able to come together and accomplish something as big as this ... I’m pretty sure there has not been a Marine here (before) going through this whole thing with the athletic department of KU,” Pride said.
“To learn something different to take to the Military is so valuable ... I’ll never forget her (Hudy).”
Hudy said she has been inspired by Pride’s personal story.
He nearly lost his left arm in a roadside bombing in September of 2008 in Afghanistan.
Following 21⁄2 years of recovery and rehab, Pride was able to win silver and bronze medals in track at the inaugural Wounded Warrior games.
“Leadership,” Hudy said of what she’s been taught by Pride. “What he’s gone through ... he almost gave up his life for the good of our country. His team of Marines came in and saved his life (when a vehicle crushed his left arm). The stories he’s shared with our men and women athletes have been very impactful regarding what they are to do — either lead, follow or get out of the way.
“On a much smaller, more insignificant scale, the core values and leadership guidelines are the same whether in sports or the Marines. There’s just a greater significance in what the Marines do,” she added. “They are sacrificing their lives for our country. We go for wins and losses and entertainment.”
Pride, who actually grew up a Missouri fan who also roots for KU, said he has been quite impressed with KU’s men’s basketball players — athletes he has met as part of this program made possible because of a research grant to KU’s Health, Sports and Exercise Department to work with the Marines.
“They are loaded with future NBA players. For them to reach out like they have has been impressive to me. They treat me like family,” he said.
“I would like to thank Kansas University for opening its doors to me and giving me something to give back to the Marines and just to say hoorah to those Marines out there that will see this story,” Pride said.