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Air Force Academy grad, NCAA champion gymnast ‘back home’

Marci McGlinn Rogers

Marci McGlinn Rogers

I’m an inveterate “achiever believer” and would like to pass along a top-drawer candidate for said recognition. The “Oscar” goes to … hello, drumbeat … Marci McGlinn Rogers!

Yes, Marci was making her mark even before donning her mortarboard in June 1981 from Prescott High School, where she won three U.S. Gymnastics Federation state championships. And further icing on the cake would come later when — during her time as a cadet at the U.S Air Force Academy — she went on to win NCAA championships in vaulting in 1984 and 1985; thus, earning her all-American status in that gymnastics event. (Vaulting? That entails running at breakneck speed before doing a palms-down hit on a table, followed by one and a half flips before landing on a mat. I’ve witnessed the event many times on TV during gymnastic competition in the Olympics, and it never ceases to be, in a word … or maybe two words if you’re a purist … hair-raising.)

Leading up to her graduation from PHS, Marci confided to me that “I had my heart set” on attending the Academy, and it was thanks to then-U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini’s nomination that paved her way to bringing fruition to the ambition. But her selection, she recalled, was not universally embraced in the Prescott community because it was an unconventional choice. You see, the Academy had just opened its doors to women in 1977, and some men at the Academy were still getting used to the idea and complained that the women were “taking some male’s place.”

Overall, though, her time at the Academy was “a great experience,” she said, that involved a core curriculum leading to a general engineering degree, with her chosen specialized area focusing on political science. Her first duty station following graduation involved technical training at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, for six months before transferring to Randolph AFB in San Antonio, Texas, for almost five years.

It was soon after her arrival at Randolph when she took on the challenge of establishing the Air Force’s first micro computer network that would fan out to 13 of the AF’s training bases. “Let’s give this project to the new kid,” she quoted a senior officer as saying at the time. “Let’s let the little lieutenant do that,” the commanding officer added, she noted with a smile. Well, they did … and she did … and yes, that “little lieutenant” went on to be promoted to captain, before leaving the Air Force after seven and a half years of active duty in order to help care for her mother-in-law, who was suffering from cancer.

Marci is now “back home” in Arizona, residing in Scottsdale. And there’s one other intriguing twist to convey. You see, she graduated from the Academy in 1985 and her younger sister, Shannon, also a Prescott High grad, followed up by graduating from the selfsame Academy in 1995. When it comes to “flying high” in Uncle Sam’s Air Force, they symbolize quite the proud tradition.

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