Heather Moran, a sergeant first class in the Army Reserve, is training for the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games as one of Team Army’s 40 athletes. She will be participating in discus, shot put, air rifle, rowing and swimming events in her second consecutive appearance.
The single mom is living north of Seattle in Kenmore with two teenagers — Rachael, 15, and Ryan, 13 — and dealing with rehabilitation from injuries she suffered during her active years. Moran also coaches baseball for the North Lake Little League.
With everything going on as the Warrior Games at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., June 1 to 9 draws closer, some might be impressed with her time management skills. The pain tolerance of Moran — formerly part of Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Warrior Transition Battalion from 2016 to 2017 — is equally impressive.
“I don’t necessarily recognize the pain that is occurring,” she said. “I learned how to take a deep breath and let it go, and it’s gone.”
Last year, Moran found that her right shoulder’s labrum was torn, along with a bicep tendon split and the need for a new rotator cuff in the near future. Her left knee has a medial collateral ligament tear and significant cartilage damage. Moran has had six knee surgeries on both knees.
She also has instability of the sacroiliac joint in her pelvis, which has forced her to occasionally pop the joint back into place. She’s been dealing with lower back issues, but that’s the least of her concerns, she said.
“What Soldier doesn’t have some bulging disc issues who’s been in the military 29 years?” Moran said. “It’s to be expected that your back is going to be ticked off at you.”
She has received the necessary care to prepare for the Warrior Games, where she hopes to add to her medal collection.
In 2017, Moran took silver in the her division of shot put with a throw of 7.56 meters, behind Team Navy’s Melissa Klotz (8.08 meters). Moran also took silver in the discus with a throw of 22.18 meters, again behind Navy’s Klotz (22.59 meter).
She collected nine medals during the Army trials in March, which included gold medals throws in discus (7.07 meters) and shot put (25.43 meters). Despite her injuries, Moran said she feels the two throwing events are her best because they are complex.
“There is your physical presence and whereabouts, your body positioning, your agility and balance, and of course your strength and power,” Moran said. You’re involving a lot of different things at the same time. And I think I do better and excel in areas where I am doing multiple things at one time.”
It is the competitive nature of sports that keeps her driven to continue setting goals for herself.
“I guess other people have goals; there’s lots of different goals,” Moran said. “Mine just so happen to be athletic.”
Moran said she plans to have surgery for her right shoulder and some work on her left knee if she isn’t picked as an alternate for the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney in October.
She missed out on qualifying for the games last year and has held off on the aforementioned procedures to keep herself open, just in case.
“I’m still training as if I might get picked as an alternate,” Moran said. “I’m not giving up hope. That’s been my dream, which is why I never stop training.”