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Best foot forward

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jaeda Tookes
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
From being one of three freshmen at the Air Force Academy to open the volleyball season in the starting line-up to becoming the first Air Force player since 2010 to be named Mountain West Player of the Week, one lieutenant has always gone for what she wants.

For 2nd Lt. Taylor Parker, 10th Missile Squadron missileer, her journey began a week after arriving at Malmstrom.

“Three days before try-outs I was notified by email that I had been invited to play for the Women’s Air Force Volleyball Team,” Parker said. “It was a complicated process, because I was going through a permanent change of station to a new base, and was in-between commanders. Through the whole thing I prayed, and God opened a door for me.”

Throughout the week the coaches had the women train two to three times a day until they were acclimated to the high altitudes.

“We trained on individual skills, working on our positions, serving, passing and practicing as a team,” Parker said. “At first I was frustrated with not being able to play as good as I had, but once I got back into the swing of things I loved being back on the court.”

Try-outs lasted five days, with final cuts made Friday night after the scrimmage.

“After the scrimmage, everyone was anxious for the final cuts,” she said. “We all became a tightknit group, and didn’t want to lose anyone.”

The final cuts were made, and the official team practiced together before flying to Naval Station Mayport, Florida, for the Armed Forces Tournament.

“The tournament lasted three days, with everyone playing each other three times,” Parker said. “The very first game we played, we lost against the U.S. Navy, leaving us feeling so discouraged.”

According to Jay Van Vark, Armed Forces team assistant coach, the team got their motivation back and earned gold for in the Armed Forces Tournament.

“The team had a consistent drive to improve,” Van Vark said, Armed Forces team assistant coach.

Parker and 12 of the best women from all three teams were chosen to compete at the 18th Conseil International du Sport Militaire World Military Women’s Volleyball Championship.

“Before CISM, me and the other ladies flew to Minneapolis to hone our skills as a team by playing together in the Adult Nationals for three days,” Parker said. “We needed a few practices to develop our team chemistry.”

Parker and her team played 9 out of 11 teams, placing 8th out of 60 teams at the Adult Nationals.

“I was really impressed with my team, due to the fact that we had only played together for three days,” she said.

After the Adult Nationals, the team flew back to Florida to prepare for CISM.

“We practiced once a day to continue to grow as a team,” she said.

There were five countries competing, Canada, China, Germany, Netherlands and the United States.

According to Parker, she was more nervous about playing China, because of their history of winning gold every year. Each of the five teams played each other once. Parker and her team only lost to China, which brought them to the championship game.

“I was excited we were playing China again,” she said.

Parker and her team earned silver overall, after losing to China a second time.

“My team and I played really well during the tournament,” she said. “I am very thankful that God gave me the opportunity to play the sport I love again, and bring home a piece of silver for the U.S.”