By Sage Santangelo, Published: March 28
I awoke to Eminem blasting hours before dawn at Quantico Marine Base. A fog of breath and sweat permeated the cold January air as I joined 104 other nervous lieutenants hauling gear to the classroom where we would receive our first instructions. With body armor, Kevlar, a rifle and a huge pack on my 5’3’’ frame, I must have looked like a child next to the buff guys assembling for Day 1 of the Marine Corps’ Infantry Officer Course.
I was one of four women in the group, bringing the number to 14 female officers who had attempted the course since it was opened to women in the fall of 2012. All the women so far had failed — all but one of them on the first day.
I wasn’t thinking about that, though. I was excited to have a shot at the Marines’ premier training course.
I’m typical of a Marine in that I’ve always sought out challenges. I flew my first solo flight when I was 15 and got my private pilot’s license three years ago at 21. I’ve climbed 10 of the 14,000-foot peaks in my home state of Colorado. As an ice hockey goalie for more than a decade, I put myself in the path of pucks flying at 80 mph.
I expected that this, though, would be the toughest experience I’d ever had.