USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - Two members of Air Force women’s basketball were part of 36 Air Force cadet-athletes that participated in a visit to the Gettysburg battlefield last weekend for the 2017 Air Force athletics team captain’s summit. Spearheaded by Academy Air Force Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton and seven special guests, the goal of the trip was to provide an experience through a historical military context focused on leadership styles and decision making during the Battle of Gettysburg.
Rising senior Erika Chapman and rising sophomore Mariah Forde from Falcon women’s basketball had the opportunity to participate.
The focus of the trip was to illustrate the importance of making good, timely, moral decisions in the face of adversity, for fostering effective and courageous peer leadership through communications and respect and to build more comprehensive, goal-oriented teams. For both cadets and staff members in attendance, the theme and ultimate goal to produce leaders of character for the Air Force and nation, was reiterated through illustration of the sacrifices made by so many during this famous battle and all the conflicts since.
The trip began June 1, with an overview from Dr. Charles Steele from the USAFA dean of faculty on Gettysburg. The following day, Paul Madera, USAFA class of 1978, and his team at Meritech Capital met with the team members. The group visited the Gettysburg National Military park Museum, Seminary Ridge, the Oak Ridge/Eternal Light battlefield and the battlefield at Little Round Top to name a few.
The final day featured guest speaker Shawn Cassidy, founder and president of the leadership and Freedom Center, who discussed building trusted leaders. There was also discussion on building team culture and having a leadership mindset.
“The trip to Gettysburg was an interactive leadership experience for our rising team leaders,” Capt. Zach Rasmussen, who was the trip coordinator from athletics, said. “Placed into the decision-making shoes of the battle’s historical actors, our cadet-athletes saw firsthand how the various themes of warfare apply to leading their respective teams.”
“The trip allowed us to get a visual of what we’ve read in books about Gettysburg and get to literally walk the steps of the leaders we learned about,” Chapman said. “I learned that being a flexible, confident leader will allow you to gain the trust of the people you lead.”
“It was a great experience that taught a lot of lessons that are extremely applicable to leadership on the basketball court,” Forde said.