K-State Women's Basketball Visits Fort Riley

MANHATTAN, Kan. - On Wednesday, Sept. 16, the Kansas State women's basketball team was able to spend the afternoon with the 1st Sustainment Brigade of the U.S. Army based at Fort Riley. The brigade provides logistics support to the 1st Infantry Division, also known as the Big Red One.

During the time on base, the Wildcats experienced a simulation of what the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan do on a day-to-day basis and met one of the highest ranking officials in the U.S. Army.

"All the things that make up a great team were on display at Fort Riley," said K-State associate head coach Kamie Ethridge. "We watched teamwork, people playing to their roles, respect toward others and authority, communication, loyalty, and pride in doing their jobs.  We are humbled knowing we strive for these things in order to win a basketball game, while these men and women are doing these things in order to save lives.

"We want to thank Captain Meyer for planning our day and making it such a special experience. Our partnership with the 1st Sustainment Brigade is something we will treasure, continue to grow and enjoy over the course of this year."

The afternoon at Fort Riley, arranged by Captain Trisha Meyer, began with a welcome and introduction session, followed by a unit specific briefing, which included a description of the chain of command at Fort Riley and throughout the U.S. Army. During these sessions, the Wildcats were addressed by Colonel Walker and Command Sergeant Major Rivera and were introduced to General Whitcomb, a three-star general who was visiting Fort Riley from the Pentagon, and Major General Brooks.

"We saw leadership and shared leadership at its best with Colonel Walker and Command Sergeant Major Rivera," stated Ethridge. "They spent a few hours with us talking about leadership and teamwork.  We had the opportunity to meet Major General Brooks and Lieutenant General Whitcomb.  Every step of the way people welcomed our team and remarked on the importance of our partnership with them."

Junior guard Shalin Spani ranked the overall experience as one of the best things she has been able to do while at Kansas State.

"Next to going to Europe last summer with the team, this was probably one of the best experiences I have had," Spani said about the afternoon. "I was in awe of seeing everything they do and the facilities they have."

Once the briefing and question and answer session were completed, the team and the 1st Sustainment Brigade began a simulations training exercise involving tanks and vehicle engagements training. Spani compared the simulation to "one of the best video games you will ever play."

"We were placed in the tank simulator and were faced with a simulation of a battlefield in the desert. Alina (Voronenko) and I were paired together and we were able to fire a couple of missiles at some ground vehicles and we shot down a helicopter. It was very realistic and the entire thing would shake when you were hit. It is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life."

Following the tank simulation, K-State players and coaches were invited to a social with the 1st Sustainment Bridgade at Colonel Walker's quarters. Spani hopes that the Wildcats can return the favor in the near future.

"We want to be able to return the favor and have them come over for a workout or a practice to let them see what we do to get ready for a game."Kansas State will host the first of two exhibition games on Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m., against Fort Hays State.