Written by Sgt. Neysa Canfield
101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs
Clarksville, TN -Female officers from the 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade “Lifeliners,” 101st Airborne Divison (Air Assault) with boots laced and uniforms on were ready to head out to the field.
This field, however, had markers, goal posts and seats for spectators. Eight officers from the “Lifeliner” Brigade visited the Austin Peay State University women’s soccer team for Women’s Equality Day August 26th, at Fortera Stadium, here.
First Lt. Francine Lane, executive officer for 218th Military Police Company, 716th Military Police Battalion, 101st Abn. Div. Sust. Bde., volunteered to speak to the student athletes.
“I wanted to be able to share some of my personal success stories and challenges with these girls,” said Lane, a Rancho Cucamonga, California native. “I was a college athlete just like they are now, so I know how hard it can be to balance the different things going on in their lives.”
A former United States Military Academy volleyball player, Lane shared with the APSU athletes what she said was one of biggest leadership lessons she learned during her time in college.
“With any relationship, including teams, there are always issues that arise, and you have the choice to either face and resolve them or ignore them and let them fester,” said Lane.
As a freshman at West Point, Lane said she witnessed how addressing and resolving issues early on can keep the team’s mindset focused on what is important and keep their relationship strong. She added she was able to carry out that lesson through her four years in college and even through her military career as a platoon leader and now an executive officer.
After each of the officers shared personal stories and team-building techniques with the team, players and officers broke down into small groups to answer any additional questions the players had.
Among the players was Natalie Smith, a native of Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee.
“My perception of military females has changed,” Smith explained. “They aren’t just these hard core fighters; they are just regular people.”
Smith added that it was great to hear the personal stories that each officer shared about their experience in teams, school, and even in the military, but the one thing that she really took away from the visit was not taking things for granted.
“Being a senior, the end [of college] is just around the corner, so hearing that some of these former athletes are still getting to play every once in a while, and [still] getting to see old friends and teammates [they once played with] was nice to know,” said Smith.
As the visit came to an end, Kelley Guth, head coach for the APSU women’s soccer team, gathered her players to the corner of the club level room, in front of the wall with a big red “AP,” to take a group photo with the female leaders.
“It’s always great having special guest coming to speak to the athletes,” said Guth. “This was a great opportunity to have women in leadership roles come talk to the players and be an example to our girls who are young college students still trying to find their way, and I hope we can continue this relationship with the military community.”