Lifetime of practice pays off

by Staff Sgt. Michael J. Taylor
21st TSC Public Affairs

The old saying “practice makes perfect” actually holds true in many cases.
For one 21st Theater Sustainment Command Soldier, a lifetime of practice finally paid off. Capt. Daniela P. Kessler, the deputy secretary of the general staff for the 21st TSC, now holds the prestigious title of the No. 1 female golfer in the Army.

In October, Captain Kessler received orders to go to Fort Lee, Va., to compete in a tournament against six other women golfers in hopes of making the All Army Golf Team. After the competition, the top three women were selected for the team. The 29-year-old captain finished at the top spot, making her the No. 1 female golfer.

“It was nice to compete for the chance to represent the U.S. Army in the All Armed Forces Tournament,” Captain Kessler said. “I didn’t know what to expect since this was my first time trying out for the team.”

Although this was Captain Kessler’s first time trying out for the Army team, she is no amateur. Captain Kessler started learning golf at a very young age because her mother was a professional golfer who played in the Ladies Professional Golf Association in the ’70s. She is now a professional golf coach.

“I found out she was a good golfer after talking to her boss and meeting her mother, who was a professional golfer, so I told her she should look into trying out for the All Army Golf Team,” said Maj. Ayodele Lawson, the executive officer for the 21st TSC.

Captain Kessler played golf throughout high school and earned a scholarship to play golf at Wingate University, which is known for its prestigious golf program.
After winning the top spot on the All Army Golf Team, Captain Kessler went on to lead her team to second place in the All Armed Forces Golf Tournament a week later.

The AAFGT is a tournament where the best players from every service come together to represent their branch and to compete against the other services for the No. 1 spot.

“It was a great experience for me,” Captain Kessler said. “Just knowing and seeing that there are other females in the military that play golf on that level and play fairly well made me feel proud.”

Major Lawson said he thinks it’s great what she has accomplished.

“She actually put in all the hard work, and it paid off for her,” he said.

What could be considered an upper hand for Captain Kessler was the fact that her mother coached her throughout the tournaments. With her mother’s guidance, Captain Kessler was able to focus more on golf instead of finding a coach and dealing with the associated costs.

“Luckily, my mom is a coach and she was able to help me, and I didn’t have to pay for the lessons,” Captain Kessler said. “She was very very pleased and happy with my performance.”

Captain Kessler submitted an application in June for the All Army Golf Team. She found out in September that she was selected to tryout. After submitting her application, she began to focus.

“I had to realize that golf is more important than going out on the weekends,” she said. “I focused on traveling a lot while I have been here in Europe, but when I submitted the application I knew that had to stop. So every weekend I was at the course practicing.

“I used to practice three to four hours a day during the week and about five hours a day on the weekend,” Captain Kessler continued.

Due to the high demands of serving in the Army, she now tries to shoot 18 holes of golf every Saturday and 18 holes every Sunday for practice.

For other Soldiers who are trying to pursue an Army sport, Captain Kessler suggests good time management, dedication and motivation.

With the military being her first priority, Captain Kessler said she will try to continue playing on the All Army Golf Team every year but will not try to pursue an actual career in golf until she retires. 

“I’d like to stay in the military until I retire, so becoming a pro is not an option for me right now,” she said. “You’re able to retire from the military at a fairly young age, and golf is a sport that can be played well into your mid 80s. Therefore I’d like to focus all my time after I retire from the military on golf so that way I have a win win situation.”

Captain Kessler’s goal for golf while she is in the military is to ultimately make it to the Conseil International du Sport Militaire-Military World Games.

The CISM-Military World Games is a multi-sports event organized every four years, one year before the Olympic Games. More than 130 member countries participate in the CISM-Military World Games.

“I hope she continues to pursue her goals in golfing, and I hope that other Soldiers see what she is doing and that motivates them to pursue their goals,” Major Lawson said.