This summer, Olympia High alumna and George Washington University softball player Paige Kovalsky spent 10 weeks in one of the most physically and mentally tasking programs in the nation.
But because of it, after she graduates from George Washington University next spring, she’ll officially be 2nd Lieutenant Kovalsky.
Kovalsky, 21, attended the United States Marines Officer Candidate School from May 28 to Aug. 6 in Quantico, Virginia. At OCS, candidates are trained, screened and evaluated to determine whether they have what it takes to be an officer. Upon passing OCS, candidates automatically become commissioned second lieutenants before continuing their training at the Basic School.
Kovalsky originally became interested in the Marines after watching her younger brother, Carter, enlist as a lance corporal. The way he talked about the Marines sparked Kovalsky’s curiosity about it. When a recruiter sent an email to the GWU Athletics department about OCS, it solidified her decision.
“I’ve played on teams my whole life,” she said. “I’ve had that camaraderie, and going from college athletics to a desk job kind of seems a little anti-climatic, not something that I would be super thrilled to do. This kind of presented itself. The leadership role you’d automatically be put into was attractive and everything about the Marine Corps is kind of what I would want for my future. It seems like a really good fit for me.”
As mentally and physically challenging as OCS is, Kovalsky saw it as a humbling experience that gave her the chance to evaluate her strengths and weaknesses.
“Walking away I realized I have a lot of room for improvement,” she said. “The physical stuff is always going to be hard, but I think overall, just growing as a leader is always going to be the most challenging, because you’re dealing with actual people and actual lives and there’s more weight on the leadership aspect. I just know I want to be a good officer and continue growing in my leadership style.
“I want to be an officer that my Marines can look up to or come to whenever they need to,” she said. “That’s what being an officer is (all about).”
As a commissioned officer, Kovalsky will be able to command all enlisted personnel who are under her command.
To become a commissioned officer, candidates must hold a college degree. Because Kovalsky is entering her senior year of college, she will not be able to officially commission until her graduation day.
ONE FINAL SEASON
Until then, she is focused on enjoying her senior year, finishing her degree in sports management and making her senior softball season the best yet. For the 2016 season, in fact, she was one of only three girls on her team to start all 52 games. The ultimate team goal is to win the conference.
Kovalsky said she wants to have a great season at the plate. In the past, she has both pitched and served as an infielder. But this season, she’s gravitating away from pitching and looking forward to focusing more on her hitting.
“It’s definitely been a hard three-and-one-half years, just because I do pitch and play positions, so that makes it a little bit more difficult,” she said. “It’s been really good and my teammates are all super great, we’re such a close team. I couldn’t be happier with the team I’m on.”
Kovalsky also has a solid support system at home in Windermere. And, even though she graduated Olympia in 2013, her Titans family also has continued to be a solid source of support — and none too surprised by her success.
“(Kovalsky is) one of the most mature, team-oriented players I have had the pleasure of coaching,” said Mitch Sadowsky, who coached Kovalsky when she played for Olympia High’s volleyball team. “How she serves her teammates and community should be put in a manual and taught to others.”
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Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].