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Double Duty

Tallahassee, FL - The streets lights are still glowing. Nary a car in sight. It's 6:30 a.m. on Florida State's campus. The only sound is the barking of orders from the drill instructor's mouth. Behind Tully Gymnasium, future soldiers are training.

This is how Amanda Ake starts her 18-hour day, three times a week.

"It's a 24-7 commitment," she said. "You have to go to sleep, early, thinking about what you're gonna do the next day. You have to get up thinking about what you have to do the next hour."

But, in this hour, the only thing she's thinking of is getting through this workout. Later, she'll have another workout. Ake is sophomore on the Tallahassee Community College softball team.

Her dedication to the Reserve Officers' Training Corps and to the diamond derives from her family history. Ake has seven family members either active or retired from the military.

"I think I can go back five generations and just name all the family members that were in wars and that served," the Carrollton, GA native said. "It's a big family bonding experience to talk about wearing the uniform and wearing the butterbar."

The Army trainee is proud of her pedigree, to say the least. She also proud of her play on the basepaths.

"I can't believe God's given me the time and talent to not just do both, but succeed in both," Ake said.

Captain Shawn Bergstrom is an instructor with FSU's ROTC.
He sees 100 cadets come in each semester, but finds Ake's case to be rare because of her athletic background.

"I'm not saying it doesn't happen, it just doesn't happen that often because it is such a trying and taxing schedule," he said. "So it takes a big commitment to do both of those things."

"Season's probably the hardest part for me," Ake said, "and that's when I really have to sit down and say 'hey I have to go to class. I have to run from class. I have to eat. I have to go to practice."

That's where TCC Head Softball Coach Patti Townsend comes into play.

"She's extremely tough," Townsend said. "You can get on her and it doesn't faze her and she understands it. She demands more than a normal athlete sometimes. Sometimes to a fault. She expects a lot."

Those expectations led to another commitment just months ago. Ake signed a letter of intent to play ball with Virginia Tech. As part of that ceremony, Ake was officially sworn in as an officer.

"I'm blessed to be on a team that I can be sworn in and they appreciate it," she said. "They came up and patted me on the back and they're like good job Ake."

Ake can expect a bigger workload next academic year with more training, more classes and a Division-I softball schedule. Bergstrom said there the training will be five days a week, two extra ROTC classes, a lab and prep for leadership skills, among other duties.

But that doesn't scare Ake.

She hopes it's a work ethic that will one day defend this country as courageously as she defends the diamond.

"Even though I'm not a normal college kid, I'm not gonna be a normal adult out in the real world, she said. "So, I'll just take that from this and softball."


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