The Greenbrier West Cavaliers are having a fantastic football season. The Cavaliers are currently 5-0 and ranked 5th in Class A. However two Cavaliers are serving their country off the field while representing their community on the gridiron.
Austin Baker and Roy Loudermilk both spent their summer in basic training to prepare to serve in the United States Army. Baker, a cornerback, and Loudermilk, a slot receiver, both returned from basic training on August 24. So far, the duo have played in two football games.
Baker said that basic training posed both a mental and physical challenge, but he felt accomplished when finished.
“It helped teach me how to give respect and take things seriously that needs to be taken seriously and basically how to become a soldier,” he said. “It was definitely different overall to miss out on summer and come home right back to school. It was hard getting back into the civilian life. I always wanted to be in the military since I was a kid. It meant giving up a summer to accomplish my dream, but it wasn’t very difficult for me to make that decision.”
Loudermilk said that basic training challenged his mind as much as his body.
“In my opinion, it’s more mentally demanding than physically,” he said. “Now, I’m not saying it wasn’t hard physically. It was tough missing summer at home. You have to think, I missed football, birthdays and just having free time. But I was willing to sacrifice that because I plan for the future, so basic was more important at that moment.”
Baker added that being away at basic training made him value being at home even more.
“I do appreciate being home now more it just provides that comfort of being with my family and knowing they are okay,” he explained. “While at basic, you didn’t have the option of knowing that or knowing what you were going to eat that day or what time you were going to get in bed. Just stuff like that we don’t really think of. When being home, you can have those luxuries. While at basic you didn’t, but while at home I get to know when and what I’m going to eat, what I’m doing that day and when I’m going to bed – just stuff like that.”
Loudermilk added that being a natural hard worker paid off for him in basic training.
“It has always been in my nature to work hard,” he stated. “I’m not the type of person to just lay around. The work at basic training was stressful and hard. At the same time, you can’t have anything but respect for the people who go through it.”
Right now, both Baker and Loudermilk are focusing on competing for a championship and with good reason. The Cavaliers have scored 245 points this season while giving up only 21. In fact, Greenbrier West has shut out its last three opponents.
Once Baker is finished with high school, he will be headed to Advanced Individual Training, which could take up to seven weeks. From there, he will be stationed in a unit with goals of joining Airborne School or Ranger School. He then hopes to have a military career.
Loudermilk will also be heading straight for Advanced Individual Training once he graduates. After he’s finished with that, he’ll go to college, Active Guard Reserve or his Military Occupational Specialty if it’s available.
For now, both Baker and Loudermilk will focus on their senior year, both on the field and in the classroom, but both young men are a shining example for others to look up to both in their home area and across country.