This Thursday, a brand new sports competition show premieres on NBC. The Titan Games features everyday people competing in high stakes athletic challenges and it includes an extra special host: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. We had the pleasure of interviewing one of this season's competitors, Marianne Sheehan and learn about her experience on the show and what it was like getting a call from The Rock himself.
What made you decide to join the Air Force at 16-years-old and how did it shape you into the person you are today?
Sheehan: I was born in Brooklyn NY and lived there right up until September 11th, so that definitely inspired me to want to defend our country. After Brooklyn, I went to high school in small town Milford PA, the kind of place where nothing really happens and no ones ever heard of it. I was bullied a lot growing up so by the time I was 16 I was ready to get the hell out of there and become someone worthy of respect. The military was that answer for me.
After the military, you went on to become a volunteer firefighter. What made you decide to pursue this career and how did your previous experience lead you down this path?That’s a great question! Everyone says how hard it is to get into the military, but no one warns you how hard it is to get out. After the military I had this deep void and a major identity crisis. I didn’t know who I was anymore or what my purpose was. But the worst was feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere and no one understood me. I did my searching through drugs and alcohol, crazy trips and adventures— but I discovered no matter what I did, I just never felt whole. It wasn’t until I moved to Vermont that I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to continue to serve. So I joined the fire department and immediately felt welcomed, but in a military kind of way. There’s a camaraderie there, a brotherhood that I missed being a part of.
As a firefighter, you need to be in tip top shape. How did you reach your current point of physical fitness and what’s your favorite way to workout?Anger, a lot of pent up anger. I tapped into that anger and used it to fuel me. I started seriously weight lifting when I joined the FD because I knew I would need to be able to lift heavy loads of hose alone if I wanted to be any help. The gear by itself is 60 lbs, half my weight at the time. So lifting became an outlet for me, my iron therapy— just like The Rock.
You were hand selected to compete in NBC’s The Titan Games by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. What were you feeling when you received that call and what made you decide to tryout for the show?
I actually got scouted for the show believe it or not! If you’ve seen the video you see me answer the phone, he says my name, and I immediately put him on hold so I can lose my shit before I tried to talk to him. There are no words, I started following The Rock's career on my deployment in 2011 (when we got Osama). Surrounded by a bunch of meatheads (naturally being a jet mechanic I was one of the only females in a male-dominated career field of crew chief) I think I just needed something to grow me as a person outside of the military and he was it. I started listening to his interviews when I worked out and I wanted to know his workout routines, etc. Over the years, as he grew more and more into his career, I grew more and more into myself. So when I got a message on Instagram from a scout for the show (after I realized it wasn’t some creep trying to chop me up and sell me for parts on Craigslist) I only agreed because it was hosted by Dwayne.
What is the format of The Titan Games and what makes it different than other extreme fitness competitions on television?
This show is awesome because when you watch it you’re going to feel inspired and think ‘I COULD DO THAT!' not because the obstacles aren’t that insane, they are, trust me, but because the athletes are every day people. Out of the tens of thousands of applications, only 100 of us were chosen for the competition and from that 100 only 64 were chosen for the show (32 males & 32 females). So some of us are military, some of us are firefighters, there’s dentists, doctors, yoga instructors, single dads, moms, models, teachers, truck drivers— you get the point. We all have a story, and it was our story and personality that got us a spot on the show, not how fit we were. Our fitness played a role don’t get me wrong, but for example I wouldn’t last a minute on Ninja Warrior because I’m not a pro climber. People will be able to watch this and relate to us in ways they’re not used to.
Beyond being on The Titan Games, what else should our readers know about you?
I recently got a tattoo in Florida by a dear friend of mine Chris Blinston from season 6 of Ink Masters. We traded flags! I make custom American flags out of wood in my spare time because it’s super therapeutic for me when I do carpentry and I wanted an American flag tattoo, but knew it has to be done by the perfect person. Chris is a veteran like me and after meeting him I knew this was the guy for the job. So I made him a custom Marine Corps Flag and he gave me the perfect flag tattoo in exchange! I love that. I’m way more about relationships than money, I always have been. I travel a lot, so I have gotten pretty good at making friends wherever I go. Right now I live in Santa Fe, but fly out to Fort Lauderdale Florida monthly. I have a German Shepherd dog named Cooper, collect tattoos, cuss like a sailor and love The Lord. I’ll always be a crew chief at heart though- that shit never leaves you.
Will you be tuning in to The Titan Games this Thursday on NBC? Let us know in the comments section on Facebook!