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    First woman to enter finals in All American Week history

    First woman to enter finals in All American Week history

    Photo By Sgt. Bethany Huff | Spc. Tania Calderon-Griek, from the 82nd Airborne Division Headquarters and...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    82nd Airborne Division

    By Sgt. Bethany L. Little, 40th Public Affairs Detachment
    FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Every year, tens of thousands of paratroopers honor the prestigious and rich history of the 82nd Airborne Division with All American Week.

    Activities included throughout the week test the soldiers’ physical and mental endurance while promoting esprit de corps throughout the ranks.

    The week’s combatives tournament combines many of the elements that define a resilient paratrooper.

    Having heart and passion for her craft, Spc. Tania Calderon-Griek, of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, punched, kicked and wrestled her way through the tournament to become the first woman to make it into the final round.

    “Do you realize, that win or lose, you will be the first female ever, in All American Week history, to step in that cage for the finals?” asked Staff Sgt. Jeffery Yurk, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the 82nd Combatives and Advance Tactics School.

    Calderon-Griek isn’t the type of paratrooper who boasts about her accomplishments. Her demeanor is humble, and manner businesslike.

    “It still feels like a dream,” Calderon-Griek says. “I keep thinking I’m going to wake up tomorrow and realize that this hasn’t actually happened.”

    Calderon-Griek hasn’t come this far in the tournament just off of luck. She has put time and dedication into becoming better.

    “I first started combatives in 2010 when I completed level one. I liked it so much that when I moved to Fort Bragg, I found Team ROC,” she said. “I may have completed level one, but I really went into this team with not really knowing a whole lot, but the team helped me to get where I am today.”

    Team ROC (Reality of Combat) is a school located along the East Coast specializing in mixed martial artist training.

    “(Calderon-Griek) is tough, she isn’t your typical girl,” said Sgt. Jonathan Medeiros, a fire direction noncommissioned officer for 3rd Battalion 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment. “During practice she wants you to push her, she doesn’t want to be treated differently because she’s a girl. She pushes us to push her, and ultimately it helps all of us to be better.”

    Calderon-Griek says she’s endured a difficult, long and crazy road trying to get to the point where she is today.

    “It’s been really hard but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” she said. “I’m so happy that I’ve stuck with it because I’m proving to myself and hopefully other females out there, that hard work and dedication really pay off.”

    Through All American Week, Calderon-Griek fought in the flyweight class, or the 125-pound weight class. She took down her first two opponents with ease, which took her into the semi-final round.

    “I tend to fight with more technical skills, rather than most males who fight using their strength,” Calderon-Griek said.

    Launching into the semi-final round, Calderon-Griek kept up her momentum and took down her last opponent, placing her into the final round for the tournament.

    “I had no doubts she would do a great job, win or lose,” said Yurk. “No matter what she does, whether it is a civilian tournament or an Army event, she is always going to do a good job and do her best.”

    Calderon-Griek’s final match was against Sgt. Alberto Nunez Jr., from the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

    “We started on our feet in the cage. I threw some jabs at him. He threw some combos at me and kicked me. I shot in on him a few times. It went back and forth between us,” said Calderon-Griek. “He knocked me on the left side of my face after we ran into the cage, then he clipped my jaw. I got knocked out.”

    Even though she didn’t win first place, she doesn’t let disappointment keep her spirits down.

    “I’m bummed, I would have really like to have stayed up longer to show off the standing techniques I know, but I just have to keep training,” she said. “If I’m given the opportunity to compete again next year, I will give it all I have and hope not to get clipped in the jaw again.”

    Calderon-Griek placed second in the All American Week combatives tournament, making her the first woman ever to place in the top three.

    “Overall, I feel awesome. I’m still a little bummed that I got knocked out, but I’m very proud of myself,” she said.

    Throughout the tournament, Calderon-Griek was never without support or encouragement from her peers, teammates, fellow Paratroopers and even her opponents.

    “I know how far she’s come,” said Medeiros. We’ve really grown so much as a team and as individuals. It makes me proud to watch her compete and do well.”



    Date Taken: 05.23.2013
    Date Posted: 05.23.2013 17:08
    Story ID: 107488
    Location: FORT BRAGG, NC, US 

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