By Barry Collins, U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion - Dallas, TXFebruary 15, 2011
DENTON, Texas - After the last class of the day Billy Ryan High Schools' track team ran paced laps in the gathering shadows. This afternoon was special. They weren't running as alone two Soldiers from the United States Army World Class Athlete Program decided to join the students' afternoon run.
Based at Fort Carson, Colo., the WCAP provides outstanding Soldier-athletes the support to train, compete, and succeed in national and international competition while maintaining a professional military career. WCAP Soldier-athletes have the potential to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team or the U.S. Paralympic Team.
Sgt. Golden Coachman a native of Birmingham, Ala., is a track and field athlete and runs the 800 meter race. Bowsher is from Dallas, Texas and competes in the modern pentathlon.
In addition to being Soldiers, the Army has given both athletes the opportunity to strive for those things they want most in life.
"The Army has let me pursue the career that I've always wanted and at the same time be a professional track and field athlete," said Coachman. "I've also been able to finish my college degree."
According to WCAP records, 541 Army soldier-athletes have been selected to either a summer or winter Olympic team, earning 131 Olympic medals in a variety of sports from ice hockey to track and field.
Coachman applied for the WCAP after enlisting in May 2003. "I've been pretty lucky, thanks to the Army I've been able to spend more time with my daughter and family," he said.
The Soldiers athletes gave Rondalle Williams, a freshman from Audrey, an insight into part of the Army he didn't know existed.
"I didn't know the Army had a program like WCAP. I thought the Army was all about guns, bullets and combat. It's given me something to think about," said Williams.
WCAP accepts Soldiers in any Olympic sport. Qualifications vary from sport to sport, but generally Soldiers must have recently attained a very high national ranking or placed high at major national or international competition. WCAP athletes must be an active duty or reserve soldiers.
During a break between laps Coachman spotted a student athlete he thought had talent. "What sports do you play'" Coachman asked.
"Football and track sir," respectfully replied Sterling Fuggett, 16, a junior from Denison.
"No, no," interrupted Coachman, "from now on it's just track. You need to tell your momma to buy you some running shoes, tell her it'll be a good investment."
"You got talent," said Coachman, as he handed Fuggett his business card. "Call me, I'm going to talk to your coach."
Fuggett's friend and classmate Dominique Banks, a junior from Aubrey questioned Coachman about becoming a leader. "I want to be an officer," he said. "I've always been interested in the Army, but I really want to be an officer."
For more information and WCAP qualifications contact the U.S. Army Recruiting Station, 2219 South Loop 288, Denton or call Staff Sgt. Marcus Stone at 940-891-2595.