PHCE Veterinarian competes for spot on Armed Forces Soccer Team

By Michelle ThumJune 17, 2022

Military Working Dog exam
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Capt. Kelly McCormick, the Military Working Dog officer in charge for Veterinary Medical Center Europe, conducts an eye exam on a MWD. (Photo Credit: Russell Toof) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Women’s Armed Forces Soccer Team
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Army National Guard Capt. Kelly McCormick of the U.S. Women’s Armed Forces Soccer Team makes a save during warmups for a scrimmage match against a women’s soccer club in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Oct. 9, 2019. The U.S. Women’s Armed Forces Soccer Team is preparing for the 2019 Military World Games scheduled for Oct. 18-28 in Wuhan, China. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom) (Photo Credit: EJ Hersom) VIEW ORIGINAL

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – For the last 20 years, Capt. Kelly McCormick Fitzgerald has played soccer in both competitive and recreational leagues, and now she is taking her talent to the next level with the goal of earning a spot on the Armed Forces soccer team.

Fitzgerald, the chief of outpatient services at Veterinary Medical Center Europe in Kaiserslautern, will travel to Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., in June to attend the Armed Forces Women’s Soccer Trial Camp where she will represent Public Health Activity Rheinland-Pfalz and the U.S. Army. The Armed Forces soccer team consists of Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy personnel.

If selected for the Armed Forces Soccer Team, she will go on to compete against Belgium, Cameroon, Germany, and Ireland in the Women’s Military World Cup at Fairchild AFB, July 11-22.

Laguna Niguel native Fitzgerald started playing soccer when she was 4 years old and played competitively for 10 years for the Southern California Blues women's soccer club. Fitzgerald received a scholarship to play soccer at the University of Mississippi and later went to Mississippi State University where she studied veterinary medicine.

“I wanted to play professionally after college, but I also had a dream to become an Army veterinarian,” said Fitzgerald. “In veterinary school I was having my identify crisis and missed playing soccer, so I was trying to find ways to be a veterinarian, be an Army Officer, and still play soccer.”

Fitzgerald came across the Armed Forces Women's Soccer Team online and reached out.

“My last year of veterinary school in2019, I tried out for the team and made it,” said Fitzgerald. “We trained at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in October 2019 before leaving for Wuhan, China to compete in the Military Olympic World Games. We competed against Germany, South Korea, and China's military soccer teams.”

Since COVID-19 started, Fitzgerald had not been able to compete on the Armed Forces team so this will be her first time since China.

“I also met my husband during COVID-19 and he had never seen me play soccer before,” Fitzgerald said. “I wanted to compete again for the Armed Forces soccer team to represent my country at the highest level, but to also give my husband the opportunity to watch me play and share with him my love for the game.”

According to Fitzgerald, she comes from a long line of Navy and Marine Corps Officers who instilled in her many military core values and taught her the value of selfless service and giving back to one’s country.

“I wanted to follow in their footsteps through my own passion of veterinary medicine in the Army,” Fitzgerald said.

After arriving to Landstuhl, Fitzgerald said she joined a German women’s soccer team in Siegelbach.

“I had mentioned to one of our local national coworkers that I played soccer my whole life,” Fitzgerald said. “He told me about the local team and I was able to tryout. I have enjoyed playing with them since. It has allowed me to immerse myself more into the German culture and language.”

Fitzgerald also said that soccer made her realize it is the universal language no matter where you go.

“Soccer is a game that is universally played and I enjoy how it brings people together and builds friendships wherever you go in the world,” Fitzgerald said. “As a goalie, I enjoy being able to see the game play out from behind everyone and direct my teammates as needed to prevent certain plays from forming.”

As the chief of outpatient services at Veterinary Medical Center Europe, Fitzgerald is responsible for the operations of the clinic. The VTF's mission consists of medical care for Military Working Dogs and pets of USAG Rheinland-Pfalz service members, as well as food safety and public health for Europe, Africa and the Middle East.