Guard Soldier Succeeds on All-Army Women’s Rugby Team

SPC Samantha Coleman, a Motor Transport Operator with the 2220th Transportation Company in Tucson, Arizona, poses with her All-Army Women’s Rugby Team jersey at Papago Park Military Reserve.

PHOENIX, Arizona – Practices in the hot, sticky North Carolina summer last six hours a day on the turf field, making conditions grueling. Sweat flows, feet hurt, and the heat will only intensify as athletes like Specialist (SPC) Samantha Coleman prepare for their upcoming tournament.

The San Antonio native and 88M Truck Driver with the 2220th Transportation Company of the Arizona Army National Guard is one of the athletes on the All-Army Women’s Rugby Team.

SPC Coleman bounced around schools playing basketball and learning mixed martial arts, and she began playing rugby about a year ago. While playing with her team in Tucson, she learned about the All-Army Women’s Rugby Team.

“I’ve only been playing less than a year,” she says. “You never know unless you try.”

With encouragement from her teammates, she decided to go through the competitive application process. She made the team that consisted of Officers and Non-commissioned Officers. She felt as if she wasn’t good enough to play alongside those leaders.

At first, she thought, “I don’t deserve to be here. I’m so outclassed. But, it’s like, you know what? The worst they can do is say no.”

First Lieutenant (1LT) Kasey McCravey, captain of the All-Army Women’s Rugby Team and member of the U.S. Women’s National Rugby Team, attributes SPC Coleman’s success to her desire to learn.

“She has an ability to take information and apply it immediately,” says 1LT McCravey. “She would do the extras, and she was a positive light to the team.”

“You may feel like you’re just a regular Specialist, or whatever you may be,” says SPC Coleman. “But the work you do matters.”

Making the team was just the beginning. She and the team had to endure a summertime training camp in North Carolina.

“That training camp is honestly the highlight of my life,” she says. “Everyone’s on the same page and trying to get better and grow.”

“She came in having defensive strength, and she was weaker on her passing,” 1LT McCravey recalls. “She stayed longer with the coaches and other players and improved her passing skills.”

The team’s hard work was in preparation for the Armed Forces Sports First Women’s Rugby Championship in Wilmington, N.C. in July.

Army dominated, going undefeated in the tournament. The victory garnered an invitation to the Cape Fear Tournament, where Army faced tougher competition and placed third.

“The whole concept about rugby is community and family, more so than any other sport I’ve been a part in,” says SPC Coleman.

Her rugby team is family, just like being in the Arizona Army National Guard. “If you’re having a moment of weakness, or whatever, you’re just like, we’re in this together; embrace the suck.”

SPC Coleman plans to continue playing rugby for the Army. After getting her degree, she wants to be commissioned as an intelligence Officer.

“The Army has let me pursue a lot of my passions,” she says. “That’s a real family. They would do anything for you, because you would do anything for them.”

The self-doubt SPC Coleman felt when she first joined the team has given way to a better sense of worth.

“Don’t count yourself out before you even try – don’t let other people make you small.”

When you join the Army National Guard, you gain family, experience, and skills for life. With benefits like tuition assistance and the flexibility to serve part-time in your home State, you can achieve your goals while making a difference in your community and country. To explore available opportunities, explore the job board where you’ll find careers in fields like aviation, engineering, and technology. To learn more, contact a recruiter today!

From an original article by SPC Jacob Dunlap and SPC John Randall, 123rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in October 2019.

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Soldier Praises Guard for Benefits and Opportunities

The decision to join the military can be based on a number of factors – for some, the benefits alone seem worth it, while others feel it’s their duty to serve their country. For Specialist (SPC) Sychelle Gonsalves, it was a combination of both that influenced her to join the Army National Guard.

“At the time, I was 20 and I wanted to stay in Alaska,” she recalls. “The recruiter told me that they’d send me to basic training, and I’d only be there for a couple of months. Then I’d come back to Alaska and serve part-time.”

SPC Sychelle Gonsalves is a 31B Military Police Officer in the Alaska Army National Guard, stationed at Fort Greely with the 49th Missile Defense Battalion.

SPC Gonsalves was a bank teller at the time she enlisted. Being able to serve part-time while continuing to work in her civilian career was one of the main benefits that drew her to Guard service – the education benefits were an added bonus. She’s currently utilizing the Guard’s tuition assistance to pursue a degree in logistics.

In 2016, SPC Gonsalves began her Guard career as a 92Y Unit Supply Specialist as part of a Military Police unit in Anchorage. Logistics is her passion, but once she heard about the wealth of opportunities at Fort Greely, she reclassed into a new MOS so she could relocate. Now serving full-time as 31B Military Police, she’s stationed at Fort Greely with the 49th Missile Defense Battalion.

SPC Gonsalves says that enlisting in the Army National Guard has enhanced her interpersonal skills, decision-making abilities, and problem-solving techniques, as well as helped her discover her strengths and weaknesses, so much so that she competed in the 2019 Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition.

When she was approached to compete, she didn’t know anything about the competition and was nervous – but she participated anyway to see how far she could push herself.

“I just wanted to compete,” she says.

SPC Gonsalves first competed in the Battalion Best Warrior Competition, which is the local-level event in July of 2018. She took the title and went on to compete in the State-level competition, taking home the victory for that event as well.

She then went on to represent the State alongside one of her colleagues in the regional competition this past spring. While she didn’t win, her ability to excel against her competitors earned her Soldier of the Year (Battalion and State), Service Person of the Year from the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA), and Missile Defender of the Year (Missile Defense Alliance Advocacy).

She was the first female to win Soldier of the Year in the Alaska Army National Guard.

SPC Gonsalves is a proud Guard Soldier who finds gratification in her everyday routine. Whether she’s called to maintain traffic control points, assist with natural disaster relief, or aid other parts of the country, she’s always prepared and ready to fulfill the mission at hand, alongside a team of 300 Soldiers.

“You are part of a team of 300 that protects 300 million,” she says proudly.

SPC Gonsalves has sound advice for those interested in joining the Army National Guard: “Consider what line of job you’d like to do and go for it! Know that there are a lot of opportunities in the Guard, and the Guard will not let you down.”

If you’re looking for your dream job with benefits like education assistance, insurance, and the ability to serve close to home, explore available opportunities in the Army National Guard today. Whether you’re into technology, logistics, or ground forces careers, you’re bound to find the one that’s right for you. Browse the job board and contact a recruiter to learn how you can make a difference in your country and your community.

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Guard Soldier Finds Best of Both Worlds in Music and the Military

As a kid, Sergeant (SGT) Nicholas Rossetti loved music. He always listened to it with his family, and once his sister picked up an instrument, he knew he wanted to play one too.

In third grade, he received his first drum set and learned to play by listening to music, drumming along whether it sounded good or not, and taking lessons. By the end of elementary school, he had a good grasp of the fundamentals and continued playing in bands throughout middle and high school as a percussionist.

SGT Rossetti plays drums at a concert with the 39th Army Band of New Hampshire.

Not only was he passionate about music, but he had always wanted to be in the military. In high school he wanted to do Junior ROTC, but his music career took center stage. It wasn’t until one day during his junior year that the two worlds collided, when an active duty Navy rock band played a concert at his school.

“I was blown away,” he recalls.

This was the moment he realized that he could combine his love of music with his love of the military, but as he reached his senior year, he started thinking about college and careers. He didn’t believe it was possible to make a living off of being a musician, and after graduating, life took him in a different direction.

His band director said to him, “You’re making a mistake, you’re really going to miss playing music.”

SGT Rossetti ignored the advice, and after a year of business school, he realized he missed being in a band.

One day as he was walking to class, he saw an Army National Guard recruiter tent on campus, with a sign that read: “Play Music in the Military with the National Guard!”

Once he learned that he could be in a band again, serve part-time in the military, continue his education, and stay home with his family, he enlisted.

“It was just the best of every single aspect I wanted,” he recalls.

As he became acclimated to his new lifestyle, he fell in love with Army culture.

“I joined to play music, and now I love more about the Army than just music,” he boasts. “It’s opened up a whole new slew of opportunities, experiences, and passions that I love.”

In 2018, SGT Rossetti competed in the Best Warrior Competition and won at the State level. He attended regionals in New York, and while he didn’t take the title, he got the opportunity to attend Air Assault school, a physically demanding 10-day training course with a reputation for being one of the tougher military programs to complete.

SGT Rossetti poses for the camera during a ruck march in the 2018 State-level Best Warrior competition.

He felt like the underdog of his class, training alongside a handful of rough and tough infantrymen, with one goal in mind – to prove that a bandsman was just as capable as any other Soldier.

“That’s all I’ve wanted to do since getting here, is just crush that typical band reputation. We’re just as capable, just as strong, and just as smart as everyone else.”

To his surprise, he received his wings as an honor grad at the top of his class.

Back home, SGT Rossetti gets to live out his dream as a 42R Army Bandperson in the 39th Army Band of New Hampshire. Throughout the year, the band tours the State and plays a variety of events including holiday concerts, a summer concert series, and school concerts, to name a few. This past 4th of July, the 39th played a concert for the public in Dover, N.H., before a ceremonial fireworks display.

SGT Nicholas Rossetti is a percussionist in the 39th Army Band of New Hampshire.

For the rest of the summer, the band will continue playing shows at parks, town halls, and other local venues.

SGT Rossetti’s been given endless experiences and opportunities in the Guard and wouldn’t trade them for anything. He’s traveled abroad to the Bahamas and El Salvador, he’s made lifelong friends, and he gets to make an impact on others. He has an immense amount of pride in what he does.

“There’s nothing more fulfilling than putting that uniform on, being in the National Guard, and knowing you have a whole entire family of Guardsmen by your side.”

Camaraderie was always something SGT Rossetti cherished when he played music as a teenager, but once he joined the New Hampshire Army National Guard, he found an everlasting family of Soldiers who would do anything for each other.

“It’s really just the best of both worlds. If you enjoy camaraderie of bands, playing with incredible musicians, playing gigs – it’s a no brainer joining the Army National Guard.”

If you’re looking for a way to pursue your passions, explore all that the Army National Guard has to offer. Whether you’re into aviation, engineering, or cyber, to name a few, there’s something for everyone. Not only will you be able to live out your dreams, but you’ll get access to benefits like tuition assistance, insurance benefits, and more. Browse current openings on the job board today, and contact a recruiter for more information on how you can serve.

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