Sgt. John McNitt competes in the games in Fairfax, Virginia.

Sgt. John McNitt competes in the games in Fairfax, Virginia. Courtesy photo.

Second-generation CDCR employee John McNitt takes home medal

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor

When Correctional Sgt. John McNitt looked to fulfill some physical education requirements in college, he didn’t realize the class would inspire his inner athlete to earn medals in competitions.

Sgt. John McNitt stands 6-feet, 8-inches tall and holds a black belt in judo.

Sgt. John McNitt stands 6-feet, 8-inches tall and holds a black belt in judo. Courtesy photo.

“I started training in judo in 2004 at the Solano College Judo Club,” he recalls. “I needed P.E. units and judo was a fun way to earn them. I instantly fell in love with the sport.”

He started competing for the college, earning multiple personal medals as well as bringing back trophies for the college. He was no stranger to sports, having played football in high school.

“I fell out of (judo) for a couple of years when I joined the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 2007,” he said.

His father worked for the department for 28 years, making McNitt a second-generation CDCR employee.

“I graduated the Academy in June 2007 and my dad, John McNitt, retired a month later as a Captain,” he said. “But I’m not a junior since we have different middle names.”

In 2012, he learned of the World Police and Fire Games.

“I started training again,” he said. “In 2013, I traveled to Northern Ireland and competed, garnering a silver medal.”

He was a brown belt at the time but earned his black belt upon returning to the U.S.

He recently traveled to Fairfax, Virginia, to compete in the 2015 games.

Sgt. McNitt is an impressive 6-foot, 8-inches tall and tops the scale at 350 pounds, putting him in the heavyweight division.

“I fought in the 30-39-year-old, over-100-kilogram division,” he said.

While he didn’t take the gold, he was impressed by those in the competition. The gold medalist in the division is a member of the Russian national judo team and a three-time national champion in Russia. The silver medalist has been a member of Germany’s national team for a decade.

“I tied for bronze with a member of India’s national judo team,” he said. “It’s hard to be too upset about losing to that caliber of fighters.”

Sgt. McNitt works at the R.A. McGee Correctional Training Center but carves out time to train as he can.

“When school is in session, they offer one (judo) class each week. I plan to supplement it with jujitsu training a couple days a week also,” he said.

What’s it like to win a medal?

Sgt. John McNitt recently earned a bronze medal at the World Police and Fire Games in Fairfax, Virginia.

Sgt. John McNitt recently earned a bronze medal at the World Police and Fire Games in Fairfax, Virginia. Courtesy photo.

“This was my second medal. Ireland was my first,” he said. “It was neat. It was a great experience. This one, I had to fight more. I really had to herd my way into getting that medal. I really had to earn it. These were world-class fighters. These guys train every day. So for me to able to train a few times a week if I’m lucky, and go against these guys, and win a medal at this level of competition is very gratifying.”

Sgt. McNitt started as a Correctional Officer at Folsom State Prison in 2007. He promoted to Sergeant in August 2013 and transferred to Mule Creek State Prison.

“I’ve only been at the Academy a couple of months now,” he said. “My coworkers are just now finding out about my competitions. Because of my size, they are surprised when they find out I do judo.”

Sgt. McNitt said he’s looking forward to getting back into training when school starts in the fall.

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Learn more about the games, https://www.uspfc.org/cpaf-home/