Top athlete award goes to former post runner
March 26, 2009
By Bob Reinert
FORT LEWIS, Wash. - A talented distance runner who established his credentials at Fort Lewis before moving on has been named 2008 Army Male Athlete of the Year.
Captain Shawn Dodge, who commands Headquarters Company, 732nd Military Intelligence Battalion at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, received the award at the Association of the United States Army's Winter Symposium and Exposition in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., earlier this month.
Prior to PCSing to Hawaii in late 2007, Dodge served as captain of the Army 10-Miler team at Fort Lewis, where was stationed from 2001 to 2007. He was also a member of the All-Army 10-Miler and Marathon Teams.
"I was completely shocked when I found out that I had won this award," Dodge said. "I know that the Army is full of talented athletes in a number of different sports and disciplines, making it such a great honor to be selected."
Dodge pointed out that he didn't start running until after college.
"I am what many refer to as a 'late bloomer,'" said Dodge, 30. "I was so blessed to train with smart people while I was at Fort Lewis."
Dodge said he couldn't have become such an accomplished runner without the support of his wife, Danielle, to whom he has been married for nearly seven years. They are expecting their second child in early May.
"She has always been and remains ... my number one fan," Dodge said. "She has supported me during all the training and time away running."
In typical Dodge fashion, he credited a number of Fort Lewis athletes with his success as a runner. Among them were Heidi Grimm, Laura Seims and Ponch Avila.
Before Dodge, Grimm was captain of the Fort Lewis 10-Miler Team. Now a member of the Army's World Class Athlete Program at Fort Carson as a triathlete, Grimm has an impressive athletic resume of her own. She was the 2004 Army Female Athlete of the Year and "Triathlete" magazine's 2006 female athlete of the year.
"Heidi Grimm taught me to run smart," Dodge said. "She is an athlete who is mentally tougher than anyone I have ever met. She has always been positive and has provided insight as to what it takes to compete."
Seims, an Army spouse and accomplished distance runner, trained with Dodge before heading to Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
"When it comes to distance training, there is no one smarter," said Dodge of Seims. "Laura taught me to run on how I feel - a concept I continue to use every day. Laura taught me to listen to my body and act accordingly."
Avila, another former Fort Lewis 10-Miler team member, trained with Dodge for two years.
"I never remember beating him in any race of any distance," Dodge said of Avila. "The fact that he is a combat wounded veteran, a Soldier and athlete and just a great person makes me so proud to know him."
Proud is a word that Danielle used to describe her feelings about Dodge receiving the Army's athlete of the year award.
"I am impressed that Shawn can handle so many things on his plate at one time with such grace and excellence," Danielle said. "He will wake up at 4 a.m. to get a good run in, still do PT with his Soldiers, spend a full day at work giving 100 percent to his job and to his Soldiers, then come home and run all around the house playing with our toddler as if he hadn't just been up and working for the last 14 hours.
"He doesn't do anything halfway - whether it's being a Soldier, an athlete, a husband or a father, he gives everything he has to every part of his life."
Bob Reinert is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.