JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J.- —
When in uniform, service members strive to exemplify hard work and discipline. However, the uniform is not always boots and Airman Battlefield Uniform.
For U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Meredith Reisinger, 787th Civil Engineer Squadron project manager, it’s also a jersey and cleats.
Reisinger began playing sports, including soccer at the age of four and all the way up until college at the U.S. Air Force Academy but she didn’t stop there. She aspired to continue pursuing it and fine-tuned her skills and passion to play at an international level.
Training and determination prepared Reisinger for the pinnacle of her soccer career and a once in a lifetime opportunity: representing the U.S. in the 2018 Conseil International du Sport Militaire World Military Women's Football Championship at Stout Field in Fort Bliss, Texas.
“I’ve always dreamt of competing at a higher level than college,” said Reisinger. “This really was a dream come true.”
Reisinger juggled her military career, her academic career and her personal life but somehow always found the time to train for what she was passionate about: her soccer career.
“The biggest challenge is finding time to train because after a long day at work, having the energy and time after work to workout day in and day out so that I am prepared for camp was probably the biggest challenge for me.”
Whenever the stress adds up, Reisinger says that she recalls the words from an old coach who was a great influence and inspiration to her. His words sparked her competitive drive at a young age by instilling in her the value of hard work.
“He told me ‘Always finish what you start,’” said Reisinger. “Training for this was a lot of hard work and dedication - that’s what he preached to me.”
While the CISM team was in El Paso, Texas, they did more than just play soccer, said Reisinger. They also found the time to meet with and give back to the community.
“We went out to a veterans home in the local community on Father’s Day to talk to the veterans, hangout, eat ice-cream and it was a great time,” said Reisinger. “We also put on a free clinic for local high schoolers who aspire to be soccer players at a higher level, and that was a great time mentoring the girls and getting to play with them.”
The Conseil International du Sport Militaire motto is “friendship through sport” and Reisinger formed friendships with her teammates during the camp, tournament and while they trained.
“Meredith is also a black belt and when she pulls out those skills on the soccer field, she's basically unstoppable,” said U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Alison Skidmore, 78th Force Support Squadron, readiness officer in charge and Conseil International du Sport Militaire teammate. “She is the best outside back I have ever played with, and I love playing center mid while she is on the outside.”
Reisinger’s ambition and determination was key while she was preparing and training to compete in the international tournament.
“Leading up to the camp and tournament, my training regimen was basically six days a week with one day off,” said Reisinger. “After work I would go to the gym, and three days a week I would do strength training and cardio every day to practice for the fitness test.”
While competing, the team wore donated women’s USA Fédération Internationale de Football Association jerseys from 2016 which filled the team with pride for their country and a determination to compete, said Reisinger.
The team competed against eight other countries including South Korea, China, Canada, France, Netherland, Germany, Brazil and Bahrain teams and won against both Canada and the Netherlands.
“Being able to step out on the pitch with other girls who have U.S. on their backs is just a great feeling,” said Reisinger. “Because the uniform means a lot to us, having U.S. on our back was a dream come true. When I found out that I made the team, I was so thrilled. I was so honored to be able to wear U.S. on the back of my jersey.”