Coast Guardsmen, Airmen and Los Angeles Police Department officers begin the POW/MIA Torch relay in San Pedro, California, Sept. 19, 2019. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Ian Gray)

Coast Guard Announces Elite Male and Female Athletes of the Year

The 2019 Coast Guard Elite Male and Female Athletes of the Year have been announced.

The Coast Guard Elite Female Athlete of the Year is LTJG Rachel Burchill, stationed at Marine Safety Unit Morgan City, LA. LTJG Burchill distinguished herself in the sport of running. Striving for excellence and setting the bar in every competition she competed in, she was selected to be a member of the highly competitive All-Navy Cross Country team. As part of the All-Navy team, she competed in the 2019 Armed Forces Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee, FL., playing an integral part in helping Navy secure a Silver Medal at the event. She regularly gives back to the community by volunteering. She is an active member of the Power Miler Track Club in New Orleans, LA, where she is instrumental in providing guidance for underprivileged youths and cultivating a community of runners that focus on establishing and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She volunteers as a coach for Girls on the Run, a program designed to encourage, empower, and guide young girls to train for 10 weeks to complete a 5k
race. Ultimately empowering and building confidence in these young women for the future. LTJG Burchill also used her love of running when she established the first Run to Remember 5k Race in the Bayou Region in September 2019. This race raises funds for the Coast Guard Foundation that would be used to assist families with loved ones that have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. She rallied support from surrounding units and the community, resulting in over 65 participants and raising over $2,000 in support of this wonderful cause.

The Coast Guard Elite Male Athlete of the Year is LT Duane Zitta, stationed at CGD FOURTEEN, Honolulu, HI. LT Zitta distinguished himself in ultra-endurance sporting events. These events included the Hawaiian Ultra Running Team (HURT) Ultramarathon Trail Series 100 miler (8th overall/1st military), Ironman Triathlon Hawaii 70.3 (1st military), Ironman Triathlon World Championships 140.6 KONA (2nd in age group), plus numerous other ultra-endurance challenges. He is typically in the top tier of competitors with several podium finishes
and established fastest known times/world records in ultra-endurance challenges. LT Zitta’s dedication is just as evident in his community service efforts. His participation in the sporting events while fundraising for the CG Foundation have brought enormous exposure and credit to the Coast Guard. As a staunch advocate for the CG Foundation Fallen Heroes Fund, he created his own Run to Remember event to honor Coast Guard members who have perished in the line of duty while also raising funds for Coast Guard families in need. His continued partnership with CG Foundation turned his athletic efforts into tangible results through the raising of significant donations for the Fallen Heroes Fund totaling over $20,000 in 2019; the largest amount raised by an individual in CG Foundation history. He also gives back to the community by dedicating his time and expertise to coach a local youth triathlon club and serve as a course marshal during their competitions. Additionally, he coached a co-worker through marathon training and supported the member by escorting and encouraging the runner during the marathon. Selected to mentor USCG Recruit Company S-197 through basic training, LT Zitta not only provided insights to the recruits in transitioning from Cape May to their first duty assignments, he also led by example in participating in their physical fitness regimen.

Not only have these athletes distinguished themselves in their respective sports, they have also been outstanding role models on the job and in their communities.

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