Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point --
Athletes compete at all ages, but the majority tend to excel when they are young and limber. Then there are the exceptions to the rule, the athletes who persevere through age, injury and life to continually compete with the young athletes at a professional level.
For team USA in the 2010 Counseil International du Sport Militaire, or CISM Women’s Volleyball Championships, a master gunnery sergeant was an athlete unlike any other.
At 43 years old, Master Gunnery Sgt. Charissa Howard just competed in her sixth CISM tournament at the Cherry Point Marine Dome, May 26- June 1.
“I have been playing volleyball since I was in the 7th grade,” said Howard. “I remember watching Kim Oden play for the USA team back in the early 80’s and that was my motivation to be better.”
Coming into her sixth CISM, Howard knew her teammates were going to be leaning on her for leadership qualities as well as her blocking abilities.
“I work hard so my team can see how hard I am playing and pushing myself,” said Howard, “That way they think ‘Well at her age she is running hard and jumping high, that means I can too.’”
Howard strives to be the best she can to help her team. When she sees her teammates step up to help better the team it motivates her. Howard said one situation with the USA team captain sticks out in her mind.
“I get excited when my teammates do something great that I didn’t see coming,” said Howard. “For instance, when Christine Rostowfske was told to move from setter to outside hitter she didn’t question it at all and just came out swinging. That inspired me to be better and the very next set I did just that. I had a lot more blocks then usual and it pushed my team to help Rostowfske and I win our first set in the 2010 CISM.”
Most would not even notice Howard was in her 40’s by the way she plays the game.
“I didn’t even realize that she was in her 40’s,” said Suba Saty, the Armed Forces Sports Secretariat and USA liaison to CISM. “She looks a lot younger, and her competitive spirit was evident on the court. It goes to show that age is not a factor but it is the heart that matters.”