Canfield High school junior Emily Conroy, a member of the Youngstown Air Wing Civil Air Patrol based out of Warren Regional airport, was among team members who competed in Springfield, Ill., in a regional event and came away with a first place win.
The event is a completion for Civil Air Patrol cadets from airbases across the nation. It consists of a mile run, quiz bowl, written exam, standard drill, innovative drill, inspection, and volleyball. The competition starts at the local level similar to high school sports.
"We compete at three levels: Wing, Region, and Nationals," Conroy said. "You must win both Wing, which is against drill teams in your state, and then Region, which for us, was competing with teams from Wisconsin and Michigan."
She said each time, the teams get more competitive, and all are expecting the trend to continue at nationals, which will be at Wright-Patterson AFB. Each team is working hard to get to the top and the competition gets harder the further a team progresses.
The Youngstown team consists of five females and nine male students from around the region. They have to maintain good physical condition and pay attention to detail. A good example of that is the inspection when every button and pant crease has to be perfect.
Conroy has picked up on the attention to detail in her short time with the Civil Air Patrol at Youngstown Airbase. She joined the unit in April last year and volunteered for the drill team in October.
"I was an avid member of the squadron and wanted to be involved in as many activities and groups as I could," Conroy said. "Drill team seemed to be the perfect opportunity to do that. Being that the team had been to Nationals for the past four years was impressive in and of itself."
She said prior to joining the team she had noticed how disciplined and professional the members were. She also noticed the team had a tight bond that appealed to her. In the competition, she was impressed how they work as a team, while depending on each member's individual efforts.
"It's everyone making sure they're doing their individual parts, then performing as a whole," she said. "We each work on our individual performances in the events, but then we must bring those together, polish them, and perform as one unit. For example, everyone needs to learn his or her innovative drill part, but must perform it in sync on the drill field with the rest of the team."
Presently the team is going over their routines and getting them down while time ticks away towards the nationals at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on June 30.
No matter how Conroy does at the nationals, her commitment and future are solid with the unit. She plans to attend one of the military academies after graduating from Canfield. She is planning to get into a flight spot with one of the military branches. She said being part of the Civil Air Patrol has led to the foundation for a military career.
"Being a part of this group has given me an unbelievable foundation for my military career, she said. "My drill is sharper than before I had joined, and my knowledge on aerospace and leadership has increased as well. Even being in the Civil Air Patrol program itself as been a monumental change in my life. Learning customs and courtesies, how to wear the uniform, getting the opportunity to lead others, and even being in a military setting is something I wouldn't have been able to experience elsewhere. It will definitely be my launch pad for my future aspirations."
For Conroy's father, Joe Conroy, seeing his daughter fulfill her dreams is something he loves to talk about.
"I, of course, am a proud dad," he said "and of course I will try to promote good news with the kids whenever possible."