May I introduce to you one Callie Britton of West Unity, Ohio?
A member of the Hilltop Class of 2004, Callie is the daughter of Jeff and Teresa Rettig, and the sister of Danielle Rettig Bakle. The wife of Adam Britton, Callie is a Registered Veterinary Technician and a member of the management team at the Fountain City Veterinary Hospital in Bryan. Although Callie and Adam have no children, they do have three cats, which Callie says, “…just comes with the territory.”
So there you have it. Callie is a typical happily married, small town American girl. She works with fuzzy bunnies. She works with adorable kittens, and cute, wiggly puppies. She is a contestant on Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge.
She…wait a minute. Back the truck up. What does the All-American small town girl who makes a living caring for little animals that make you go, “Awww,” have to do with anything as charming as a Broken Skull? Like I said, I would like to introduce to you Callie Britton of West Unity, Ohio…Registered Veterinary Technician, Veterinary Hospital Manager, serious fitness buff, and soon-to-be television celebrity and contestant on CMT’s Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge.
Steve Austin is a professional wrestler who carved his niche by taking everything politically correct, and shredding it in front of audiences in the millions. Often referred to as ‘Stone Cold’ or ‘The Rattlesnake’, it was Austin that made famous the threat of, “Opening a can of whoop-***” upon his opponents…a threat that he normally carried out with no social niceties included. What would make Callie Britton want to be involved with something involving a character like Steve Austin? “The average person doesn’t just wake up and decide they want to try out for Broken Skull,” Callie explained. “When I was younger, I wasn’t the typical athlete. I was in gymnastics for many years and I was a cheerleader; That was the extent of my athleticism. I never played softball, volleyball or basketball. Nothing like that. When I was a cheerleader in high school though, it was very athletic. I don’t know what they do now, but I helped lift girls, I tumbled and I did backflips across the floor.”
It after high school that Callie noticed a change that she didn’t like. Her time away from athletic activity had taken a toll upon her. “When I was 25,” she said,” I was really out of shape, a little pudgy, and I decided but there was no reason for me to be like that at 25 years old. I went outside to run in West Unity, and found that I could barely make it from one light post to the next. I kept sticking with it, and eventually I was able to make it a mile. I started doing local races. I did a half marathon. Then I decided to sign up for the Chicago Marathon. After that I felt empowered and I wanted to try something new, so I got into CrossFit. I went out to Main Line for about a year. I got into some CrossFit competitions, then decided to go out on my own.”
With the help of Adam, Callie did just that. “My husband and I turned our garage into a complete CrossFit gym. For the past two years I have been training from home. I’m still running, but I lift a lot of weights. I flip tires, and I carry logs. I like to get out on the trail, find the hardest route, and run through the mud. I pick up big rocks along the way, and run with the rocks. That’s the type of training that I started doing. It was around Memorial Day weekend when I saw online that they were taking applications for Broken Skull. My husband and I have watched the show for the past couple of years, and I kept saying that I wanted to try out for that. You see the athletes that are on that, and they do CrossFit and obstacle training, which I’ve also gotten into. This past year I have gotten into that competitively instead of just doing it for fun. It went real well, and I have even competed for obstacle racing championships. Anyway, I just filled out the Broken Skull application for fun thinking, oh well…whatever.”
It wasn’t long before Callie had her ‘Oh well…whatever,’ attitude permanently adjusted.
“A couple weeks later, I got a phone call,” she recalled. “The caller ID said California, and I wondered if it was Broken Skull. It was actually somebody from casting at Broken Skull. They liked talking to me, so the next step was an even more in-depth application, including submitting pictures and videos of me working out. There were about 25 in-depth essay questions, along with a Skype interview with a producer. You had to put on exercise attire and talk in depth about yourself. They asked questions about medals and awards that I won. They wanted to know everything about my athletic prowess, and then told me that they would make a selection in the next couple weeks. That would have been around Labor Day weekend.”
After talking to a casting crew member and a producer, Callie was energized. That was when it looked like the wheels were falling off. Labor Day came and went…and there was nothing but silence from La-La Land. “I didn’t hear anything,” Callie said. “Nothing. I wrote it off. I even put a big thing out on Facebook saying then I guess I wasn’t selected, but it was cool to make it that far. They then emailed me on a Thursday and asked me to fly out on Monday. The deadline was so far past that I thought that I wasn’t selected, but I guess that Hollywood runs behind. I was in shock. I scrambled to get things arranged at work, and the boss told me to go for it. I flew out on a Monday morning and got there around noon. Callie Britton of West Unity had arrived in The City of Angels.
“A van picked us up…me and other girls from around the country,” Callie continued. “We didn’t talk much. We weren’t allowed to talk about our athletic backgrounds or anything like that, so we could not strategize. We went through rigorous medical testing that first day. Running tests. Breathing tests. Anything you could think of to make sure that everyone was in great shape. The next day was filming. Each men’s or women’s team had eight people and it’s bracket-style competition. They fly out nine people, with one person being the alternate. They make the decision by producers re-interviewing you and talking to you again, then they call you at your hotel room to tell you if you will be on the show tomorrow. One person gets left out. They don’t get to go to the filming. They don’t get to see anything; they just get flown straight back home. I made the show!” The small town America Registered Veterinary Technician had a date with The Rattlesnake.
The reality competition program that is Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge is, as Callie explained, more than aptly titled. “They start off with eight people on each episode,” she said. “You’re then matched up against another person for a challenge. You don’t know what the challenge is and you only have about ten minutes to prepare. They tell you who you’re matched up against and what your challenge is. You then have about ten minutes to process that. You start with eight, then it gets cut to four, then two, and then there’s just one at the end. The last person standing gets to do an obstacle course called the Skullbuster. If that person completes the course, and does it faster than the winner of the previous episode, they get $10,000. I’m not allowed to discuss the challenges, and I cannot tell you how far I went, but meeting Steve Austin…that was a trip. He’s always been depicted as rough and gruff, and he’s that way in person too. When the cameras weren’t rolling, that is the way that he talked. It’s not an act. He was really supportive though. He was very supportive of all of us, and wanted us to try our best. He was encouraging.”
Sunny Southern California was anything but that while Callie and her fellow competitors were filming. Callie said, “The place that we shot was a movie set, but it was like an actual ranch. They drove us way out of Los Angeles, and up through the mountains. It was hilly, sandy, and dusty with tumbleweeds. The producer said that every episode that they had shot, the temperature was about 103 degrees, sunny and hot. Our episode was 50 degrees, windy and with rain. It was that way all day, and we were out filming for twelve hours. In between filmings, they’re interviewing us. We’re acting tough and rough because we have to. In between sets they were throwing towels over us because we were shivering all day, but it was still oh so cool! The types of girls I competed against I did not find out until Steve Austin was asking us while we were filming what their athletic backgrounds were. One girl was a college rugby player. One girl was a Houston Rockets cheerleader. One girl was a Junior Olympic track champion. One girl was retired United States Army. Everyone else, myself included, did CrossFit and obstacle racing. There were a lot of CrossFit and obstacle racers on this show.” She came. She competed, then, on an eastbound redeye light, Callie Britton was sent home to West Unity, Ohio.
Callie was back home, and resuming the activities of normal, everyday life, but in that brief amount of time in the presence of the Stone Cold one, something had changed. “The Callie that went out there was scared to death,” she said, “…and not just for the challenges. I’ve watched the show a lot. I know my athletic abilities. The thing that made me uncomfortable was just being on television, being in the spotlight and having to interact with producers and camera crews. It was a socially challenging situation, and having to work with Steve Austin all day, talk with him and not be a stuttering, blubbering mess, those were the things that I was scared of. But I am the type of person that likes to put myself in situations like that purposely in order to try to get over them. When I came back, I came back with more confidence. The small minor things that happen day to day didn’t seem like a big deal. I remember that I was on Broken Skull, and I was in the cold desert for twelve hours battling these women. That’s a harder day than I’m ever going to face back here! I came back with that confidence, and also the confidence of knowing that I was able to hold my own against these high-level athletes a little better than I thought I was going to.”
The film is in the can, and ready to roll. Callie is going to be on Country Music Television. “The season starts November 13th on CMT,” Callie said. “I am going to be on episode eight, so if you count every Sunday, episode eight should land on New Year’s Day. You know how television is though. Sometimes they will not air new things on holidays, so I can’t guarantee that episode eight will be on New Year’s Day. It may be on the following week.”
Looking back, Callie’s eyes and smile sparkled as she recalled her experience. “It’s all like a dream; I still can’t believe that it happened,” she said. “I think it’s really cool that people that are on shows like this, I automatically think that they live in bigger cities. They have more opportunities. They go to the best gyms. They have the greatest trainers. I think it’s really cool that someone from West Unity that trains in her backyard, flips tires in her backyard, lift weights in her garage and runs on the old Wabash Cannonball Trail every weekend made it onto a TV show. You don’t have to be from a big city and have all these opportunities if you just do it, and work really hard.”
Timothy Kays can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org