19-Year-Old Ava Georg Crushes Army Infantry Training, Sets her Sights on 2023 Semifinals
When Ava Georg was 16 years old, a military recruiter approached her at her high school to talk to her about opportunities that come with being part of the U.S. military.
At the time, Georg had never considered joining the military, but after that she started doing some research, the idea of having her post-secondary education paid for, and a good pension, spoke to her.
“I enlisted a month after my 17th birthday,” said 19-year-old Georg, who lives in Fond-du-Lac, WI and has been doing CrossFit since she was 14.
Two years later, Georg is a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Infantry training (training women weren’t allowed to do until 2016) which she completed at Fort Benning in GA in 2021.
More impressive is the fact that of the 50 women who did the infantry training with Georg in GA, only 20 of them had the physical fitness and mental fortitude to graduate.
Georg credits having done CrossFit for the last five years with providing her the fitness and the mindset to make it through basic training followed by grueling infantry training.
“I struggled a little bit (to get used to) the running, but I feel like mentally, just having that grit in my head from CrossFit, meant it was just like a normal day if we had something physically demanding,” she said.
“I was like, ‘Well I overcame this in CrossFit, so I can do this,’” she added.
Why Infantry Training?
Georg’s reason for joining the infantry wasn’t to prove that women can have a combat role in the military—today, less than one percent of infantry roles belong to women—but simply because she wanted the hardest job that would give her “the most physical activity.”
“I wanted to be able to keep my conditioning up for CrossFit while I was gone (at military training) because I was scared I would get weak and lose my strength,” Georg explained.
And while many men and women of the 200 in her training group struggled through the miles upon miles of running and increasingly long ruck marches, Georg largely breezed through the fitness components of the training, including a test that required her to complete a five-mile run under 45 minutes, and an 18-mile ruck march.
On her final day at Fort Benning, Georg and the other graduates were put through their final field training exercise—a long Ruck march to Honor Hill for an emotional graduation ceremony of sorts—and she finally realized the magnitude of the last six months.
“It was two in the morning, and it was bitter sweet. Mentally some days were good, some days were bad, and then finally it was a relief that it was over…Making connections and friends that turned into family, and then having to all go our separate ways after we had been through the ups and down and relied on each other since day one, (made it bitter sweet),” she said.
And although she didn’t process it at the time, she realizes now how big of a deal it was to have her drill sergeant award her with her cross rifle pin, a symbol that she is part of the “infantry family,” something very few women can say.
“It’s a very male dominant environment, but there’s nothing that (women) can’t do that (men) can. If we want to succeed in infantry jobs, we definitely have to work harder to stand out. Females have to work ten times harder…But I'm very glad that I did it,” Georg said.
“I’m one of a few who can say that I did that.”
Back to CrossFit
Georg returned home to Wisconsin in December 2021 with just a handful of weeks to prepare for the 2022 CrossFit Open.
Although she had done a ton of running, ruck marches and bodyweight moments, she hadn’t touched a barbell in six months and her body felt it.
“I got very weak in my normal lifts…cleans, squatting, snatching,” said Georg, a Brute Strength athlete coached by Dex Hopkins.
Still, she easily qualified to Quarterfinals and went on to place 558th in North America in Quarterfinals, a finish that has inspired her to go full steam ahead as a CrossFit athlete.
Today, Georg is a member of the National Guard, so her commitment to the military is just one weekend per month, and the rest of her attention is on training in hopes of qualifying to Semifinals next season.
“And then just play it by ear, see where I’m at. Focus on my weaknesses and shoot for the Games eventually,” she said.
After that, Georg isn’t sure what her long-term plan is with the military, but she does know that without CrossFit in her life she never would have had the confidence to put herself out there with the men in the military.
“I wouldn’t have thought I was physically capable of it.”