Crowell Shares Army Enlistment With DePaul Basketball Community
Jan. 20, 2014
CHICAGO - It will be a special moment for freshman guard Madeline Crowell on Tuesday when she visits the Pentagon along with her DePaul women's basketball teammates and coaches.
"When we go to the Pentagon on Tuesday, I'll be an official U.S. Army cadet," Crowell said. "It's awesome that my teammate Jessica January's uncle works there and made arrangements for our team to take a special tour. I have never been there.
"My service in the Army is connected to the Pentagon. This is one of the places I'll be protecting along with the entire country. It's the symbol of our military."
The military was front and center on Sunday when Crowell was administered the U.S. Army Oath of Enlistment before the BIG EAST Conference victory over Villanova by Lt. Col. Christopher Clay, professor of military science of the Rambler Battalion which is headquartered out of Loyola University. That battalion includes the campuses of DePaul, Loyola, North Park, Northeastern Illinois and Northwestern.
"To give the Oath in front of my teammates was a profound experience because they are seeing me take a step towards my future and my plans after graduation," Crowell said. "The DePaul Army ROTC and the DePaul basketball team are both like my other families. Having both present along with my mom and dad just seemed so right.
"This was a solemn occasion, and I was nervous. My mom could see my hand shaking as I took the Oath.
"It was Sgt. First Class Marc Westenbarger's idea to have the ceremony before a women's basketball game. There aren't many people in college who do a Division I sport and ROTC at the same time. It was a great idea and I talked to coach Doug Bruno about it and he loved it.
"Balancing academics, ROTC and women's basketball can sometimes be a little tiring. I'm up at 5:30 a.m. three days a week. But I've always had a soldier mentality and it's something I really want to do. It runs in my blood."
Her father Harrison Philip Crowell III is a biomechanical engineer and a civilian worker for the Army. As a youngster, the Bel Air, Md. native remembered accompanying dad to the army base in Aberdeen, Md. and seeing all the officers dressed in their uniforms.
Madeline's grandfather Harrison Philip Crowell II was a POW in Germany during World War II. Her uncle Jeffrey Crowell is a retired major and was a doctor in the Army. He served from 1996-2003 in the Medical Corps and was part of Operation Enduring Freedom with 101st Airborne in Afghanistan 2002. He was awarded the Combat Medical Badge and the Bronze Star. Another uncle, Kevin Winkle, is a retired colonel and Army doctor.
"I realize the dangers of being in the Army," Madeline Crowell said. "No one wants to die. But it's all about protecting the person next to you, defending our freedom and wearing the U.S. Army emblem and the American flag on your shoulder.
"I'm majoring in Health Sciences and the Army will send me to medical school after I graduate from DePaul when I'll be a second lieutenant. I want to become a Medical Corps officer."
Few coaches appreciate the mixture of basketball and ROTC more than Bruno.
"Coach Bruno has such a profound respect for the military, and he'll make references to it in some of his talks with us," Crowell said. "Basketball and the military both require immense teamwork. You can't do it alone. You've got to have leadership qualities and camaraderie in both. It's been said there is nothing else like the camaraderie of the military.
"They go hand-in hand, leadership on the court and depending on your teammates. It's the same on the battlefield. It's all about leadership and trusting in your fellow soldier. There's no half-stepping in either one.
"In some ways, coach Bruno is like my sergeant and my captain. No excuses. You've got to get it done. If you turn the ball over, what's next? You sprint up the court, get a defensive stop and go from there. It's the same in the military. If you make a mistake, you can't dwell on it. You move forward and learn from your mistake."
With tears in his eyes, Bruno looked on proudly during Sunday's pre-game ceremony.
"Every time the National Anthem is played before any basketball game, I always take that opportunity to thank those who serve our country in the military and remember those who have sacrificed their lives defending our freedom," Bruno said. "It is an honor that Madeline took her Oath of Enlistment in front of her DePaul basketball family and made a commitment to serve her country like so many other 18-22 year-olds in the USA. The pledge that she made on Sunday to the Army demonstrated her bravery, dedication and patriotism.
"At DePaul, our 18-22 year-olds compete on the court and in the classroom while those who serve in our military choose to fight for our country. I am so proud of Madeline---she works hard on the court every day as a student-athlete to make our team better. I know that she will be an excellent officer in the U.S. Army."
Crowell is a first-year student-athlete and Army cadet blessed with a wisdom and dedication beyond her years.
"The Army is one of the two things that Ms. Crowell is really passionate about---the ROTC program and the DePaul basketball team," said Sgt. 1st Class Marc Westenbarger. "People say that whenever you are part of team sport it becomes a part of your family, and the Army is no different. The Army is one big family.
"Ms. Crowell as a MSI (freshman) is way ahead of her peers. She is currently serving in a leadership role which is normally reserved for a junior-level cadet. Ms. Crowell stepped up to fill the position, is exceeding expectations and is currently in the process of becoming a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army.
"To have this ceremony in front of her teammates and the DePaul community was ideal."
After the pre-game ceremony, Lt. Col Clay seconded that notion.
"It was huge and great that DePaul set this up," Clay said. "We try to make this ceremony special for them. I did one of these at Wrigley Field before a Cubs game.
"Madeline loves DePaul basketball and the Army. She has the kind of devotion I love to see in our students. She is always ready to go the extra mile for her basketball teammates and her fellow cadets."
For Crowell, it's full-speed ahead.
"I have always wanted to serve in the Army," Crowell said. "I have always had pride in my family's military history, and now I want to forge my own Army path.
"I love this country, and this is a step in the right direction---serving my country and fulfilling my dream of becoming an Army officer."