Hard Corps, Tech Corps, Marine Corps
When evaluating an individual’s suitability for the military, two questions inevitably arise. Is he or she brave? How will that person handle discipline?
In the case of the all-volunteer United States Armed Forces, the bravery of recruits is assumed. As for the suitability of those to be disciplined once they have enlisted successfully, the truth may be hard to predict, but it will come out eventually.
Some recruits have that can’t-miss look about them. Take for instance Paige Wright, Marine Corps Reserve Officer Training Corps at Virginia Tech next year. How do we know? It’s what she’s doing now as a Christiansburg High School senior that tells the tale.
Every morning she awakes at 6 in order to put in some rigorous conditioning and miles’ worth of running before classes start. One reason she’s doing it is to stay in shape to play two sports simultaneously in the same overlapping season, as she’s doing now. More to be revealed about that later. The other reason she’s working so hard is simply to be ready for military training when she gets to Tech.
She wants to be a Marine officer badly. She’s willing to put in the work. She is not only willing to work, but she is actually doing it. If that isn’t the definition of discipline, then what in the name of Montezuma is?
“I want to serve,” she said. “I want to go to a big school and do something big.”
That’s how she settled on ROTC, the Marines in particular. She had wanted to do something big in college before she was ever accepted in ROTC. What she had in mind at first was to continue playing in college the sports in which she had excelled in high school: softball or basketball.
“Then I figured out that I wasn’t going to be going to UCLA to play softball or to UConn for basketball,” she said.
Which isn’t to say she can’t play, just that she’s not a major college prospect in those sports. This year in softball, she’s hitting .364 with 16 hits and leads Christiansburg with 10 stolen bases,
She’s the Blue Demons’ leadoff batter. In basketball, she started and was among the team’s best players.
To those two sports that she’s played since she was small she added track in her last year of high school. She runs relays and middle distances and high jumps during Christiansburg’s weekend meets. To prepare, she goes to track practice right after school and then from there to softball practice. Because first-year softball coach Dave Cooper has a job away from the school, practice starts late after he gets off work. That allows for Wright to attend both practices.
Think about that along with her daily workout at dawn when you question whether she has the discipline for the military.
“She’s just a real good leader,” Cooper said. “She leads by example but will speak up when she needs to.”
As for the courage part of the aforementioned military suitability checklist, we know she’s not afraid to try something new. That’s how she got into track. Somebody asked her a few years back to run with them in a 5K and she happily obliged.
Had a great time.
Christiansburg track coach Shane Guynn happened to see one of her 5K times and suggested she might want to try a new varsity sport. She liked the idea but didn’t get around to the execution until this year. She ran indoors (while still playing basketball) before joining the outdoor team for the spring season.
“I am so happy I did it,” she said. “I love it.”
A love of running will certainly help her when she begins military training. Speaking of, she has a full ROTC scholarship, which required plenty of preliminary work during the application process. Before that, she researched options on joining the military. The exclusivity of the Marines appealed to her most about that branch of the service.
Of course, there was also the aspect of simply being able to serve that inspired her. She received word that she had been awarded the scholarship in April. She was ecstatic.
After she is through with the Marines (a commission awaits after successful completion of ROTC and college graduation), she would like to go into law enforcement, preferably at the federal level.
“That would be so incredible to do that,” she said.
She’s already been pretty incredible as it is.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1672
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