Here’s to remembering that your dreams CAN come true!! After a lot of studying, training and persistence, I’ve been accepted for a position as a seasonal Wildland Firefighter on the Chippewa National Forest with the US Forest Service this summer in Minnesota. My start date is March 21 and I will be working through September.
If you’re wondering what possessed me to try for such a position, I’ll tell you. First off, this would never have been possible if it weren’t for the generous and unflinching support of my beautiful wife Star Stormer. Not only has she bolstered me through MANY teary sessions as I tried to figure out ‘what I want to do with my life,’ but she gave me that opportunity as well. I know not everyone has that chance, and I will never forget it.
Last summer I found myself 6 months out from being a full time caregiver of my mother in law (the event that led me out of the office), and ticking through lofty idea after idea of what I was “going to be” now that I was given the chance. I tried turning my love of creativity into a career in several ways, but I learned that you can’t always hope to make a hobby or an idea into a viable career. What I did find was that if I listened to myself, I was able to start giving myself better advice.
Ultimately, the part of me that led to wanting to work in wildland firefighting is of the same stuff that led me to continue playing team sports into adulthood. I found that what makes me happiest day in and day out is actually camaraderie and hard work. So thank you to all of my former rugby and roller derby comrades. This is all your fault. Just kidding.
There’s more to it than that, of course. I’ve been studying every piece of wildland fire intel I can get my hands on now for about 6 months. I’ve taken a bunch of pre-requisite classes (and some extras). I’ve been volunteering at Congaree National Park now for 6 months specifically to gain experience working outside with the federal government. I’ve passed my pack test (although will have to pass again once I get to my duty station).
In short, I’ve done everything to get my “Red Card,” and I did it all with that fear in the back of my head that this wouldn’t pan out. I’d told my family so many things about what I planned to do with my life that weren’t materializing, I almost didn’t even tell them about this. But I kept at it. Probably the reason I did is because of the lessons I learned in roller derby, first from this ol’ road I took with my teammates leading up to the CQS vs Carolina game back in 2012… In 2007, the fist roller derby game I ever saw was the Carolina Rollergirls in Dorton arena.
From that moment, my ultimate goal in derby was to get good enough to play against the CRG Allstars in Dorton. It seemed quite impossible at the time. But sometimes, just sometimes, dreams you have that seem impossible actually do come true. What I learned is that generally when they do, at a minimum they do so because you worked hard, were determined and persistent. So it is with great humility about life that I accept this is how I was able to believe in myself enough to start down this new road.
To my wife Star, my family, and all of the teammates I’ve had over the years, thank you. Thank you for encouraging me and pushing me, and those around you. It’s going to be very physically and mentally challenging, but I’m excited about the road ahead. US Forest Service, here I come.
CQS Alumni and Coach Truckstop