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McChord officer plays volleyball at high level

Meet Felicia Clement

2nd Lt. Felicia Clement, of the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, recently competed for Air Force in the Armed Forces Women’s Volleyball Championship in May and for the U.S. in the International Military Sports Council’s Women’s Volleyball Championship

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Serving in the United States Air Force and the sport of volleyball have been symbiotic for Felicia Clement since graduating high school in 2011. She’s enjoyed a life where the two go hand-in-hand.

A second lieutenant for the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Clement recently represented the Air Force and JBLM in intraservice and international volleyball competition.

Clement helped the All-Air Force team win the gold medal for the 2017 Armed Forces Women’s Volleyball Championships at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla., May 17 to 21. She then joined the U.S. team to win silver in the 2017 International Military Sports Council Women’s Volleyball Championship at the same location June 3 to 11.

Less than a year ago, she was assigned to JBLM as her first duty station thinking she would never play competitive volleyball again.

“So to play with people who were in the (Air Force Academy) with me and before me, and other enlisted (service members), it was fun,” Clement said.

Clement grew up playing volleyball in Long Beach, Calif., and played two years of varsity at Long Beach Polytechnic High School. She then spent one year in the Air Force Academy’s Prep School Program before officially joining the academy.

She was an outside hitter for the Air Force Falcons for all four years at the academy, playing collegiate volleyball in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I level. But when she graduated from the academy, she thought her competitive chances were done as she would become an assistant officer in charge for the 62nd AMXS.

“It never crossed my mind,” Clement said. “I thought the only opportunity to play internationally was in college.”

Shortly after she came to JBLM, Clement learned about representing the Air Force in the Armed Forces Women’s Volleyball Championships. After completing the trial camp and practicing for about a month before the intraservice tournament, she made the team.

Clement helped the Air Force win the Armed Forces championship with a 5-1 record. Although she was confident the team would play well, the way it dominated the field was a little unexpected for Clement, considering team members had only been together for about a month.

Strong bonds were built, but it wasn’t the same as her experience at the Air Force Academy.

“In college, you start each August, and you go to school and play with (your teammates) for four years,” Clement said.

There was even less time before Team U.S.A. played international military teams June 3 to 11. The team was also placed in a club tournament in Minnesota where it finished eighth out of approximately 100 teams.

Clement enjoyed the entire experience playing against teams from the Netherlands, Germany and China, who defeated the U.S. for the gold medal. She said she wasn’t sure if her body was going to be able to handle it.

“Playing in shape in sports is different than just staying in shape,” Clement said.

She said seeing older members of the team who have played for both the Air Force and U.S. military teams since they graduated from the academy several years ago has given her the inspiration to continue to stay in volleyball shape — even with her ever-changing career in the Air Force. After all, her interest in volleyball is what ultimately led her to JBLM and the Air Force.

“It’s what got me where I am today,” Clement said.

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