Former Mesa Thunderbird Marissa LaRue (#23) from Round Valley, AZ has recently completed her Army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and becomes one of the newest members of the largest land-based US military organization, comprised of over 475,000 active personnel.
She recently returned to the valley for a brief recruitment assignment and to visit family/friends while she awaited her newest assignment which will send her to Fort Bragg, NC to operate with the military police force there.
LaRue, who will soon earn the rank of PV2, was on the 2014-15 Thunderbird women's basketball team which made it to the Division 2 Region 1 ACCAC championship game vs Phoenix College, finishing the season as runners-up with a record of 20-11.
She dropped by for a short visit last week with members of the women's basketball coaching staff and shared her experiences with the incoming 2016-17 team as they trained in the weight room.
When asked the top three things she learned as a young recruit in basic training she was quick to share the following:
She also stated that throughout the 16 weeks of physical and teamwork training at Fort Leonard Wood she did her best to typify the Thunderbird concept of 'holding the rope', which she credits head coach Kori Stephenson for instilling in her from her time at Mesa.
This helped her succeed and gain an advantage as the grueling process sometimes became burdensome and almost overwhelming, but rather than giving up she held the rope and graduated with her class of recruits on time.
However, she also relied on her "battle buddies" to give her strength and hold her accountable and she also watched out for them throughout the training, another concept of teamwork she learned to value as a Lady Thunderbird.
LaRue will report to Fort Bragg in NC on July 1, 2016 and is feeling a bit nervous and anxious as it is the largest Army base in the US and often referred to as "the center of the world" for the Army.
However, she looks forward with a sense of hope and optimism for new and interesting life experiences to help her grow and develop leadership and maturity over the next eight years of her enlistment.
The entire Thunderbird family, from her former team to the athletic department, is very proud and supportive of Marissa as she becomes the first soldier coached by Kori Stephenson, who has been directing the women's basketball program for the last 11 seasons. We wish her all the best and look forward to watching her grow, and we are proud to have Thunderbird representation within the ranks of the US Army! Hooah Marissa!