No matter what obstacles

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Lauren Russell was born and raised in Washington, D.C. where she grew to love the game of basketball from an early age. From the time she started playing basketball in fifth grade to her completion of high school, Lauren distinguished herself by joining the Thousand Points Club and being awarded "Athlete of the Year" two years in a row by the school she attended, Capital Christian Academy. After high school she attended Prince George's Community College and played ball for the Lady Owls. Upon completion of Junior College, she played for a Semi Pro Women's league before deciding to join the Air Force.

"I was kind of headed down the wrong path and my godmother encouraged me to join the military. I didn't want to at first but it's turned out to be such a positive experience and I want to continue in the military for many years to come." Airman 1st Class Russell was stationed at Goodfellow in 2007 to work in the 17th Communications Squadron. After arriving and discovering there wasn't a Women's basketball team, she became the first and only woman to play on the Men's Varsity Basketball team.

Soon, an opportunity came up for her to compete against twenty-three other women for twelve available positions on the all-Air Force Basketball team. After a week-and-a-half of exhausting practices and learning countless transitions, Airman Russell was selected to the team. Clearly her experiences on the Goodfellow Varsity team have contributed greatly to her staying motivated thus far. "Playing with the guys' team really pushed me to expand my boundaries and has helped me to the point where I feel like an all-around player. I'd really like to thank Coach Doug Hennen and all of my teammates at Goodfellow; they believe in me one hundred percent!" After playing basketball with men for years Lauren expressed the difficulties of playing with women again, "Playing basketball with boys is so different; girls are more aggressive and I think have a deeper passion 'cause they have something to prove."

Lauren leaves a great impression on those she meets: "I admire the way she steps up to the plate when it comes to playing basketball," says a good friend of Lauren's and a player on Goodfellow's Varsity team. "I remember when I first met her in the gym and saw that I was going to be playing against her; I laughed and started calling her "Rookie," but when she scored three straight points on me I knew I had to take her seriously... but the nickname kind of stuck. She never backs down from a challenge on or off the court."

Lauren Russell says that even through injuries, tough games, and bad practices, she has a heart and love for the game that won't let her quit. A lot of this determination came from the support of her mom: "My Mom's belief in me really kept me going." As this basketball season has ended and she has returned to Goodfellow, Lauren looks back on the past and forward to the future with a smile.

"My most memorable moment was the first two days of tryouts trying to figure out if I was really made to do this. I had to step back and remember the fundamentals and what I really wanted. One of the greatest lessons I learned this last season is that you can do anything you put your mind to, no matter what the obstacles." We are all very proud of Lauren "Rookie" Russell's accomplishments and for representing our country and Goodfellow Air Force Base on the all-Air Force basketball team.