Critics agree John Napier and Chuck Norris have many similarities. Yet, not even Norris can claim status as both an Olympian and combat-tested soldier.
With the Sochi Olympics in progress, Napier will be watching them from a slightly different perspective than the average student at Florida Southern College.
Napier represented the United States bobsled team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and he shared the same sled with many who are competing in Sochi.
“Parts of watching the games are tough for me because I spent most of my life training. I am definitely still emotional about the sport and the Olympics in general,” Napier said.
After Vancouver, Napier chose a route which is not often traveled. He wanted to enlist in the army, and insisted on being in combat.
The army eventually decided to deploy him in Afghanistan, giving him a light machine gun in lieu of a bobsled.
There were lessons where war and athletics overlapped, but Napier alluded to brotherhood being at its strongest in war.
“Although athletes compete on a team together to achieve a common goal, there is no closer bond than being in combat with a bunch of boys,” Napier said.
He came home safely from Afghanistan, and decided to retire from bobsledding after a couple practice runs, sensing it was an appropriate time to leave the sport.
He feels there is only minimal reward in accomplishing something you are already sure you can do.
Napier has transitioned to becoming a student athlete on FSC’s Water Ski team, and studies biochemistry as a major. Free time for him is rare
“I work best when I am buried with work. Our minds were not created to be lazy; they are a beautiful creation that God intended us to use to its fullest,” Napier said.
Napier will be the first one to say his current transition has been anything but easy. As challenging as skiing and chemistry are, it is an entirely different animal from sledding and war.
If you ever need to find him, a local lake, a library, or the Polk Science Building would not be a bad place to start.
He has been traveling his whole life, and is uncomfortable spending a long amount of time in one centralized location.
“All of this is a new challenge for me, but it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made,” Napier said.
After college is done, what obstacles await this student-athlete-soldier-Olympian? As of now, he is still currently in the VT National Guard, wants to improve in his military duties and has future aspirations to be a chiropractor. Just add a few more things on the list for Chuck Norris to catch up with.
Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army through creative commons.