PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Information Warfare Sailors at Center for Information Dominance (CID) Unit Corry Station showcased their athleticism in a friendly competition with an "American Ninja Warrior" TV show participant, Jan. 28.
Lt.j.g. Dustin McKinney, a student attending the Afloat Cryptologic Manager (ACM) course at CID Unit Corry Station, competed on the show in 2014 and again in 2015. His background in football, gymnastics, inline skating, break dancing and professional wrestling gave him a shot at the show, while he was assigned to Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Georgia.
"It is important to always look for ways to promote physical fitness," said Lt. Scott Aaron, the coordinator for the local Ninja Warrior Challenge. "Having Lt.j.g. McKinney in our ACM class presented a fantastic opportunity to engage Sailors. Dustin is a great motivator."
For the past two years, McKinney has solidified himself as one of the most consistent contestants on "American Ninja Warrior," especially after winning the military region by becoming the only finisher.
The local competition at Naval Air Station Pensacola Corry Station started out with 20 participants, and the top 12 combined into six teams to meet the challenge. McKinney designed the course to allow Sailors with varying fitness levels to participate.
"Although we didn't use the same type of obstacles you may see on 'American Ninja Warrior,' we used the same core competencies of physical skills that are required to be successful on the show: balance, speed, agility and grip strength," said McKinney.
The group started with a dynamic warm up and calisthenics. The qualifying round consisted of five countdown rounds of push-ups, sit-ups, full-body exercises and sprints. For the competition itself, the teams navigated an obstacle course of a stack line, wheelbarrows, island hopping, bear crawls, summersaults and a 20-foot bar traverse.
"When Sailors operate forward, we need to have a strong sense of teamwork and unity, so I also incorporated teamwork into the course," said McKinney. "The Sailors chose a partner to run the course with, which helped build the trust and reliance we need to have with one another as we serve."
Information Systems Technician Seaman Apprentice John Parsons and Cryptologic Technician (Networks) Seaman Apprentice Marc Johnson were the only team to beat McKinney on the course, when he made an attempt to complete the course without a partner, losing by nine seconds.
"It was a great honor to win the Ninja Warrior Challenge and to get to meet the Ninja Warrior, Lt.j.g. McKinney," said Parsons, an information systems technician "A" school student.
"The Sailors who beat my time worked together and pushed themselves, and that is what being in the Navy is all about," said McKinney.
McKinney's interest in the TV competition developed when he was a cryptologic technician (collection) petty officer and continued when he was selected for Officer Candidate School.
"To me, physical fitness is the means to a happy, healthy, and satisfying life," said McKinney. "Physical fitness has taught me the importance of goal setting, which has led to success in many other areas of life. Goal setting is an integral tool for the success of anyone wanting to reach for something higher, accomplish something bigger, and be more than what they currently are.
"Goal setting has been my path to everything I have accomplished inside and outside of the Navy, and I highly encourage others to utilize goal setting to get what you want out of life."
McKinney said he will soon be featured on the new TV spinoff of "Team Ninja Warrior," where he will compete alongside Geoff Britten and his wife Jess Britten. McKinney will also appear on an "All-Star Ninja Warrior" episode later this year.
Although McKinney will be deployed during season eight of "American Ninja Warrior," he plans on training and continuing to pursue his dream of winning.
"What 'American Ninja Warrior' has done for me is that I have found a way to have fun while exercising and working out," said McKinney. "Finding an exercise activity that you enjoy is so important to physical fitness because it can keep you coming back for more."
The Center for Information Dominance (CID), with headquarters based at Naval Air Station Pensacola Corry Station, is the Navy's learning center that leads, manages and delivers Navy and joint forces training in information operations, information warfare, information technology, cryptology and intelligence.
With nearly 1,300 military, civilian and contracted staff members, CID provides training for approximately 22,000 members of the U.S. armed services and allied forces each year. CID oversees the development and administration of more than 200 courses at four commands, two detachments and 12 learning sites throughout the United States and Japan.
For more information on the Center for Information Dominance, visit www.netc.navy.mil/centers/ceninfodom/; www.facebook.com/CenterForInformationDominance/; and www.twitter.com/CenterInfoDom/.