Wildcat Women Go to 'Simulated' War

That was the marksmanship of the K-State women on Monday afternoon using M-16s, M-9s and even an AT-4 rocket launcher at the Marksmanship Training Facility on the Fort Riley Military Base. The Wildcat top-gun, so to speak, was sophomore Taelor Karr, who edged out assistant coach Shalee Lehning for the honor. "I used to do a little bit of hunting for pheasant and quail with my dad, but I was surprised to do this well," said Karr, a native of Paola. "I've always been an outside sporty kid, so this was fun." Lehning, a native of Sublette, Kan., could only say, "I'll have to give it to her. She's a good shooter. I hunted pheasants with my dad until about the eighth grade. I remember shooting a 12-gauge shotgun once and it about knocked me over." Monday, they put that hunting experience to use on the indoor simulation range, which turned out to be somewhat like shooting hoops. "A lot of it really is the same," said Karr. "It's all about concentration, focus and it all comes down to fundamentals." Lehning added, "So much of it is breathing and keeping steady. I'm naturally a jumpy-type person, so it wasn't easy for me." What the Wildcats heard from their instructors seemed to be an echo of Coach Deb Patterson's voice. "If you can do it once, you can do it again." "Focus!" "Be smooth." "Communication is vital." Captain Lauren Maloney, a former Division III basketball player at Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C., said, "Working with athletes who are already into focus and discipline is so much easier than some 18-year-old coming in off the street. Athletes have that automatic discipline." Major Kris Overman added, "Athletes know the art of breathing and not letting their heart rate escalate during that game-winning free throw attempt, except here (Army) there's life and death that is on the line." Assistant coach Kamie Ethridge was one who especially enjoyed the message from the Captains, Majors and Sergeants. "So much of this could be related to basketball as far as relaxation and the importance of practices. (Smiling) But it was very apparent that we were out of our element here. This wasn't video games or laser tag." But for one and all, it was a day of fun and games for those in the purple and white, and those in Army camouflage. "It's fun to talk about what you do for a living," said Captain Maloney. "My job is firing a weapon, and I enjoy teaching that skill." Major Overman added, "This is such a great unity between two separate worlds - Fort Riley and civilians. Sometimes you think a lot of this is secret stuff out here on the range, but a lot of it is what you learn in hunter safety classes." The women's basketball program's tie with Fort Riley is with the First Sustainment Brigade, which is currently stationed in Kuwait. Of that relationship, Ethridge said, "We have such an appreciation for how these men and women serve our country. Today is just for fun and trying to play war for a little bit, but there are great lessons to learn out here and we are very fortunate to have these people protecting us like they do." Kelsey Hill added, "It's neat to see what soldiers do on a daily basis, and it's cool to see and meet the people protecting our country." Oh, how did the city girl do? "I had never shot a gun before, so it was a new experience," said the senior from Lenexa, Kan. "I had one kill, which sounds strange, but it was computer animated, so I was OK with it."    We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com.