The following column appeared as a part of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award update on Jan. 3, 2011, and was written by women's basketball analyst Debbie Antonelli.
Senior center Erin Anthony is a CoSIDA Academic All-American at Army. She carries the dual title of captain of the basketball team and cadet-level captain at West Point. The two-time Patriot League Scholar Athlete of the Year grew up in Allentown Pennsylvania – famous for its steel and concrete industry.
“Concrete” describes Erin at the core of her value system and her rebounding efforts in the lane are as strong as “steel.” Of the seven Army values, she lists selfless service as her most concrete value.
“When I signed up, I didn’t understand what selfless service meant. Now I consider serving others the most important value as a member of the Army,” she said.
When Erin graduates, she will be commissioned, spend six additional months in school and then have a platoon of 40 soldiers in her charge.
“Integrity is another important value. I’ve learned to always do what is right, especially when no one else is watching. It is a strong personal trait for any student, basketball player or platoon leader.”
Although a self-described normal student who likes to shop, hang out with friends and cook, she signed up for the Army in the post 9/11 era knowing that as a member of the active military, she will be deployed during her five-year post graduation commitment.
“I come from a military family. I met people on my recruiting visit that could provide me with discipline and a challenge every day. The Army provides a unique experience and I want to put my education and training to the test as graduation becomes a reality,” Erin said.
As a civil engineering major, Erin’s daily academic class load consists of classes in dynamics, steel and concrete, constitutional and military law. She is on the accelerated engineering plan and will complete her degree in four years. It could seem basketball is a distance priority given her schedule.
“I’m in the middle of my senior season and basketball is a priority. Faith, family and, on game day, basketball is most important. I factor in game day with my academic course load. I treasure my time playing because I don’t know when I will be allowed to play again in the Army.”
Fear doesn’t lend itself towards middle ground. Either it molds and motivates or it drives you to disappear and quit. Erin has faced fear. She signed up to serve our country because she loves her family and wants to be a part of making our world safe.
“I was afraid of the rules – not talking outside, hands cupped – so I tried to stay under the radar in my first year. I have learned that you are allowed to mess up and experience some failure at West Point. But I’ve also learned that when I’m in charge, not everything with my platoon will be perfect. People won’t judge me for being less than perfect; they’ll judge on how you react when the spotlight is on you. I wanted to be pushed outside my comfort zone. That happens all the time here. I’ve been challenged every day and know it is making me better.”
Author’s note: As a basketball analyst, I read, study and examine traits of a team and personnel. I look for nonverbal interaction with teammates and coaches. I assumed a certain level of commitment from Erin. I was in the ballpark but sitting in the right field bleachers. I spent time watching Erin work on the court, outwork her opponent and lead her young teammates. I discovered Erin believes attitude, choices and commitment drive her physically and emotionally. She’s made a commitment that is greater than any detail on the basketball court. She will put her skills, training and education to work when her name is called. She plans to have fun playing a game while the clock ticks away on her senior season. Is she someone you want in your foxhole? Without a doubt. I remain inspired and grateful for the people that serve our country and for the future that will be guided by leaders with the core values, the appreciation and dedication of Erin Anthony.