By Dawn Arden
Public Affairs Office

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (May 31, 2019) – Winning the title Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Drill Sergeant of the Year is a goal Sgt. 1st Class Marianne Russell took seriously. In order to reach that goal, she enlisted the assistance of the R2 Performance Center.

Being a Master Resilience Trainer, Russell already knew of the benefits in regards to her Soldiers, but didn’t consider it for herself until she was teaching an MRT class.

“I never really thought about it, but when (it was) briefed it clicked in my head that I probably could use it,” she said, adding that it was only two weeks before the competition at that point. “It was last minute but it was still beneficial.”

Russell said getting back to the basics and using skills she learned helped her with the “mental toughness” part of the competition.

“Things like pushing through when your mind says give up, power statements and little things like that helped me tremendously,” she said. “When I think back about the competition overall — the physical aspects and the technical parts of it — those are obviously important, but the mental portion of it because it was so strenuous and so physically exhausting, learning how to push your body past its limits was a (huge) help.”

MRT Performance Expert Anya Salzgeber said Russell already had a lot of the skills, she just needed to put a name to it and learn how to apply the techniques at the right moments. Salzgeber said even in that short amount of time she could see Russell growing in confidence knowing that she could push herself further.

“We talked a lot about breaking it into smaller chunks so as to not overwhelm oneself, taking just one task, one challenge at a time,” Salzgeber said. “Also, knowing when you have the ability to regenerate or recuperate some of that energy and how to do so when there is some down time — being able to relax your muscles, have control over your body while gaining better control over your heart rate so you can save energy when you can.”

Russell said during the competition she constantly reminded herself why she was doing this, her motivation behind competing and why she didn’t want to quit. She used tactical breathing and energy management, refocusing her energy after each obstacle.

“The competition was go, go, go. They told us to rest when there was time in between events. When you finished early that was your time to sleep and whatever else you needed to do,” Russell said. “I would regroup, take one challenge at a time and then go after the next thing. My goal was to win.”

Russell said she doesn’t think people realize how beneficial and easy to use the center is.

“I think people just hear MRT and put it all under the same umbrella,” she said. “I’ve even used it for my Soldiers with their testing. It’s beneficial to everybody, not just those going through competitions. Whatever you have going on in your life you can learn something from here.”

Salzgeber said Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and family members can use the center and their services free of charge. She said they see people for all different reasons.

“We also do academic performance training so if they need help learning how to learn or how to take notes better or even be more efficient with their studying,” Salzgeber said. “If they play sports, an instrument or participate in any sort of competition at any level, we can help them improve their skills in that performance or task.”

Individuals seeking assistance from the R2 Performance Center should call 573.563.4174 for an appointment and ask for a Mastery Session to be matched up with a Performance Expert that best meets their needs. The center is located at 14122 3rd Street, Bldg. 350.

Sgt. 1st Class Marianne Russell, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood Drill Sergeant of the Year, salutes the flag during the MSCoE Best Warrior Competition award ceremony May 10. Russell said the R2 program helped give her the edge needed to reach her goal of winning the title. Russell is scheduled to represent MSCoE in the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command level competition in July at Fort Rucker, Ala. Photo by Dawn Arden

About Fort Leonard Wood
Fort Leonard Wood is a thriving and prosperous installation that has evolved from a small basic training post more than 75 years ago to a premier Army Center of Excellence that trains more than 82,000 military and civilians each year.

Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and three U.S. Army schools: the U.S. Army Engineer School; U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear School; and the U.S. Army Military Police School. In addition to training engineer, CBRN and military police specialties for the Army, Fort Leonard Wood also provides gender-integrated in-processing and Basic Combat Training for new Soldiers.

Fort Leonard Wood also hosts and trains with the largest Marine Corps and Air Force detachments on any Army installation as well as a large Navy construction detachment.

More information about Fort Leonard Wood is at: