MAFB kicks off command-wide rowing competition

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
Team Malmstrom got a taste of gold last week as two renowned visitors made a stop to the base April 3-4 on their tour of all Global Strike Command bases as part of the American300 Warrior Tours' "Never Quit" series.

Dan Beery, Olympic gold medalist and Rowing Hall of Fame member, and Sean Colgan, 1980 Olympic Team World Champion and Rowing Hall of Fame member, came to Malmstrom bearing Olympic medals and words of encouragement.

Colgan brought along his Congressional Gold Medal awarded to him for outstanding accomplishments made in the sport, for both the Olympic team and the nation. Following the boycotting of the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympic Games by the United States, he organized two rematches against the Soviet Union Men's 8 rowing team - both of which the U.S. took home victories - and became a world champion.

Beery, on the other hand, started his rowing career knowing little to nothing about the sport. After his dreams of becoming a professional basketball player were diminished because of a knee injury, he was asked to join his school's rowing team. From there, his new goal was to gain a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. After five failed attempts, he finally landed a spot on the 2004 Olympics' 8-man rowing boat team where he brought home gold for himself and the U.S. team.

"I gave up so much to accomplish my goal, but I felt like I couldn't turn back," he said. "I think that it's been really rewarding to share my story - the things I've struggled with - because my path to the Olympic team was a challenging one. I think it's good for these Airmen to hear that. It's not all setbacks - it works out if you stick with it."

The medalists came to share with Wing One the path's they chose to claim their dreams and the obstacles they had to face on their way. Their visit coincided with the kickoff of Global Strike Command's Never Quit Rowing Challenge, which began April 5. They provided Team Malmstrom members with a demonstration of proper rowing techniques and offered helpful tips for successful rowing.

The month-long challenge, which ends May 5, is between all five AFGSC bases and was put in place to promote teamwork and resiliency.

"I always work in a team concept," Colgan said, addressing his rowing success. "I try to surround myself or reach out to the smartest and the toughest when I need help. We can only accomplish our goals by working with other people."

Each base received a rowing machine that will be used to track the distance rowed by its personnel consecutively throughout the month-long challenge competition. The machines at each base were decorated with labels representing one of the five colors of the Olympic rings - Malmstrom being green. Airmen are to sign in (on a walk-in basis or unit sign up) to use the machine and have Fitness Center staff log their distance upon finishing each time.

Col. Robert Stanley, 341st Missile Wing vice commander, kicked off the challenge by rowing the first 500 meters April 5, followed shortly by Chief Master Sgt. Derick Stepp, 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron security forces manager, rowing the next 500.

"It was an honor to be allowed to symbolize the teamwork that we demonstrate on a day-to-day basis here at Wing One, Malmstrom Air Force Base," Stanley said. "Nothing symbolizes teamwork and resiliency more than the Olympic sport of rowing. Each one of those team members has to be in perfect sync with each other over the long haul and that's what we do at Malmstrom every day. This is our chance to show the rest of Global Strike Command that we are Wing One for a reason."

The base that rows the most meters will receive a $50,000 "Base Quality of Life Improvement" grant from AFGSC, and the individual who rows the most meters command-wide will win a trip to the London Olympics in July with the American300 Warrior Tours. Also, the top three rowers at Malmstrom will receive U.S. Olympic Rowing Team gear.