VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Two Vandenberg officers were recently recognized for exemplary achievement in athletics, and were named the base’s athletes of the year.
After carefully reviewing submissions from athletic Airmen across Vandenberg, the 30th Force Support Squadron fitness center staff announced Maj. Ian Holt, 614th Air and Space Operations Center mission director, and 1st Lt. Aly Gleason, 2nd Range Operations Squadron range control officer instructor, as the male and female athletes of the year, respectively, in mid-January.
“Each year here at Vandenberg, we recognize a male and female athlete of the year,” said Pamela Coffey, 30th FSS fitness center director. “We try to recognize those who have set themselves apart from the rest, and achieved an elite amount of success in their sport. Often times, they have competed at a very high level beyond the base and even the Air Force.”
Gleason, a two sport all-armed forces athlete, took home the moniker female athlete of the year, rewarding her years of hard-work and dedication.
“I play on the armed forces soccer team,” said Gleason. “They pick around the top 40 athletes from all the services to come tryout and then they select the team from there. I’ve played with them for the last two years, and this past year was the first, basically world-cup, for women. I also play for the armed forces rugby team as well.”
Holt, ranked as one of the nation’s best cyclists in his specific style, made the selection for male athlete of the year a quick one.
“Last year, I represented the U.S. at the elite world championships, in London, for cycling on the track,” said Holt. “I finished 11th and I think that was the main reason I was selected as athlete of the year here. It was a really special event. I started cycling 15 years ago when I was at the academy and I never would have expected to represent the USA at an elite world championship.”
Fitness center leadership believes recognizing Airmen for superior physical accomplishments is as important as the Air Force recognizing Airmen for going above and beyond in any category.
“It’s absolutely necessary to recognize the amount of physical effort put in,” said Coffey. “Being a former athlete, I know what it takes and not everyone can do it. Just the amount of hours they’ve dedicated to bettering themselves speaks volumes to their character and who they are. They won’t settle for anything but the best and that translates to their work and personal lives. They absolutely should be held in high regard. They’re role models and their work should be recognized.”
Gleason hopes her extra notoriety can inspire others to work toward their goals and pursue their athletic dreams.
“Having us present in front of the wing run, or just people knowing that this award exists can be pretty inspiring,” said Gleason. “I’ve had people come up to me and tell me I’ve inspired them to work hard. I think that’s really one of the biggest awards with being recognized this way, people are now looking at me as a good example. It’s an honor to be recognized in this way and I hope it will inspire people to try out for a sport.”
Holt also hopes to inspire fellow Airmen to try new things and possibly develop new athletic aspirations in the process.
“I would love to see more Airmen in the dorms get into cycling,” said Holt. “One thing I hope to achieve through my cycling is encouraging more Airmen, especially in the dorms to get into it. I think if they knew how great it is, they’d be cycling everywhere.”