Army band flutist covers all the bases: Soldier helps lead Army softball team to championship title
October 14, 2010
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Nichole Flory may play a sweet tune on her flute as a member of the 282nd Army Band, but she swings a mean bat as a member of the All-Army Women's Softball Team.
The outfielder helped lead the team to an undefeated season (8-0) and 7-3 victory over Air Force for the championship title of the All-Armed Forces Softball Tournament, Sept. 20-24 in Pensacola, Fla.
"It was a great year. We were able to put together a team that really produced on the field," Flory said. "And, of course, it is always a blast to beat Air Force because they are our biggest rivals."
Air Force kept the Army team in second place the past three years.
This was Flory's fifth season on the team and her second gold-medal finish for the All-Army Women's Softball Team
"She plays with a lot of heart," said Rob Bailey III, team coach. "(She) makes the most out of her ability by how smart she plays. She comes in with no nervousness."
Flory's passion for softball and music began in fourth grade when she joined band and began playing organized softball in her hometown of Swanzey, N.H.
"I started playing music and softball at the same time and have been lucky enough to keep doing them," Flory said. "It has always been an honor to put on any Army uniform, whether it be an ACU or team jersey, and do what I love most, either performing music or playing softball."
Making the All-Army Softball Team is no easy task. First, potential players' applications are submitted and reviewed by the All-Army Sports staff at Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and by the team coach. Consideration is given to the applicant's background, including past performances and athletic awards.
From there, hundreds of applicants are reduced to 25 Soldiers who attend the two-week trial camp. During camp, there are two cuts, which reduce the field to 15 players.
Players who make the team practice each morning and afternoon, followed by double-headers in evening. The team also played in civilian tournaments on the weekends where they placed first twice and came in second once.
"It is such a great experience to play for the Army at such a competitive level," said Flory, who hit around .600 for most of the tournament.
Flory began playing All-Army Softball in 2004 and has missed only two seasons due to deployments in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2008. During those deployments she traveled around Afghanistan, playing musical missions and conducting a security mission.
Bailey, who has coached the team since 2004, said he has watched Flory evolve from a young player and Soldier into an effective leader on and off the field.
"When she got off the bus and I saw her for the first time I said, 'Who brought the kid'' I gave her the nickname Gerber because she looked like the baby on the Gerber jar," he said. "But she has become a great player and leader on the team. I bring her in on team decisions because I think she will become a coach someday."