Top athlete from JBLM

Meet the Army’s 2019 Female Soldier-Athlete of the Year

By Maj. William Leasure, 5th SFAB Public Affairs on April 23, 2020

Southeastern Texas is home to an area known as the Golden Triangle made up of the cities of Beaumont, Orange and Port Arthur. While the oil riches from the early 1900s have faded, a former resident, Staff Sgt. Erica Myers, gave the region a renewed luster after being named the U.S. Army's 2019 Female Soldier-Athlete of the Year April 9.

Many described Myers' determination on the rugby pitch as relentless. Myers can point to the exact moment when everything clicked.

"In the spring of 2019, I got invited to tryouts for the All-Army Basketball Team and I got cut on day one," Myers said. "The next day while the basketball team practiced, I was in the weight room getting ready for the rugby season; it really lit a fire within me."

Myers' performance off the field is just as impressive.

"As an NCO, Staff Sgt. Myers knows what it takes to be a team player, a motivator and a captain on the pitch," All-Army Rugby Program Manager, Sarah Galon, said. "However, it is her performance and dedication off the pitch that sets her apart from others."

Myers describes herself as incredibly driven, she volunteers routinely within the JBLM community and fills an infantryman's billet as a Military Police NCO in the Army's newest unit, the 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade.

At home, she's constructed a gym in her garage to maintain her fitness -- there she trains constantly. This fitness made her a force on the rugby pitch.

Myers and her teammates on the All-Army Rugby team dominated the field at the inaugural Armed Forces Women's Rugby 7's Championship in Wilmington, North Carolina, June 5, 2019, shutting out the Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard teams enroute to winning first place honors.

Myers' coach, Capt. Kaitlyn Kelly, says Myers is the type of player you build a team around and says Myers "loves the team, loves rugby and everything it stands for."

Myers' position as an Advisor with the 5th SFAB at Joint Base Lewis-McChord requires a similar commitment to fitness. Her hard-nosed determination draws respect from her superiors like 2nd Battalion, 5th SFAB's Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Brinson.

"Staff Sgt. Myers is a mature, disciplined and open-minded NCO who knows how to win on the battlefield and on the playing field," Brinson said. "Her dedication as an Advisor and her performance as an All-Army Athlete epitomizes the Advisor Key Attributes."

These 11 attributes read like a personality profile for Myers: "Disciplined, Mature, Sound Judgment, Initiative, Cool Under Pressure, Tolerance for Ambiguity, Open-Minded, Empathetic, Situationally-Aware, Patient and Morally Straight."

This is where the Golden Triangle forged the Golden Girl.

Growing up outside Beaumont, Texas, Myers had eight brothers and two sisters. Her brothers treated Myers like one of the guys.

"That's why I can take a hit in rugby. A lot of people say rugby is a rough sport; I tell them you've never been tackled by one of my brothers," Myers said. "I grew up emulating professional wrestlers and playing cops and robbers; it helped make me tougher."

It was in these formative years when Myers watched the World Trade Center towers fall during the 9/11 attacks. Myers' path forward forever changed.

"It hurt me deep inside when I witnessed 9/11," Myers said. "I still remember exactly how I felt and exactly what I thought that day in 4th grade; I knew I had to get in that fight."

Myers' career started at Fort Riley, Kansas, where as a young soldier she excelled and was eventually selected to be the battalion command sergeant major's driver. It was at Fort Riley where she first got involved with rugby.

"Someone approached me one day and told me I looked athletic and would be a natural for rugby," Myers said. "I told them I knew nothing about the sport but they said that everybody says that at first and that I would do fine."

Myers fell in love with rugby from there and played for the Kansas State University team through a partnership with the U.S. Army.

Myers' career took her to Ansbach, Germany, where she had a chance opportunity to advise with the Romanian Army. After a stint with the 42nd Military Police Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Myers decided she wanted to become an SFAB Advisor.

"What really cinched my decision to join the SFAB was a speech by Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. (Robert) Craven," Myers said. "When he said, ‘if we're not your cup of tea and you're not a fit for us, take what you learn here and go back and make your unit better.' That just spoke to me."

Craven's glad Myers made the decision to volunteer.

"Staff Sgt. Myers embodies all the attributes of a solid combat Advisor and an Army professional," Craven said. "We are honored and blessed to have her within our ranks in 5th SFAB. She consistently sets the bar high and we are all better for serving alongside her."

Myers admits the SFAB lifestyle is physically demanding but she enjoys the freedom she has to plan and prepare in a small team setting. As the 5th SFAB begins planning for tactical advising missions in the Indo-Pacific Command's Area of Responsibility, Myers is optimistic.

"I'm excited to go into the Pacific and train foreign partner forces to be better at their craft," Myers said. "I know this job will directly prepare me to serve as a platoon sergeant in the near future and possibly serve as a cultural support team member or a drill sergeant, eventually."

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Myers finds herself working from home, maintaining her personal and professional readiness through the virtual coaching of Sgt. 1st. Class Christina Ison. Ison offers Myers nutritional advice and various workout plans to keep Myers on track.

Myers also employs personal mantras to help her stay fit, stay connected and stay ready.

Her favorites?

While COVID-19 has shuttered many opportunities for Army Athletes to shine in 2020, there's no doubt when asked to perform on the battlefield or the playing field, these soldiers will be ready.