Ramstein athletes capture USAFE titles

Betsy Allen
435th Services Squadron

***image1***Two KMC athletes garnered both the Ramstein Air Base and the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Athlete of the Year honors. Running, soccer and mountain biking propelled Capt. Jill Metzger, Air Forces Europe executive officer, to win the women’s title for the second year in a row.

Master Sgt. Troy Saunders, 435th Material Maintenance Squadron transportation superintendent, excelled in the weight room to capture the men’s crown.

KMC athletes submitted packages to the 435th Services Fitness office for judging. Packages included letters of endorsement and outstanding performances or records achieved during Armed Forces, national and international competitions, and events sponsored by the International Council of Military Sports, an organization of 84 countries that sponsors competition in 27 individual and team sports events. The package also includes military awards, honors and other significant criteria, according to Steve Selvey, 435th Services Fitness Centers director.

Metzger won the Air Force Marathon in 2003 and 2004, she was selected for the 2004 elite Air Force running team that competed in the Marine Corps marathon last month, and she holds the USAFE record in the women’s 1.5 mile fitness test run.

If that’s not enough, she is a member of the Ramstein varsity soccer team that won the USAFE championship this year.

Mountain biking is another of her fortes; she was undefeated in 2004 European Armed Forces series. Over the years, Metzger has proven her athletic skills in events from road cycling to land obstacle courses and military Olympics to marathons.  

“Fitness and athletics are the backbone for many things that allow us to interact and succeed on a daily basis,” said Metzger, whose devotion to fitness came from a family influence. “From a young age, I was taught the importance of sports and fitness as more than just a way to stay healthy, but a method to better balance my life.”
This balance has resulted in many honors and awards. Metzger was honored with the USAFE Personnel Manager of the Year 2003, squadron level Company Grade Officer of the Year 2003 and group level Company Grade Officer 3rd quarter. She is also active in the community introducing adults and teens to outdoor activities such as hiking, running and spelunking, which is cave exploring.

Power lifting prowess and dedication made Saunders stand out in the crowd.
“Train hard and consistent; if you do that you will succeed,” said Saunders.

And succeed he did; his USAFE Athlete of the Year honor reflects his commitment to power lifting, the community and the Air Force. Saunders won the 2004 USAFE Power Lifting Championships, 220-pound weight class, in May with a squat of 600 pounds. He has been winning power lifting competitions for 15 years, including the 1989 Luke Air Force Championship, Montana State Champion 1998 to 2000, and third place in the Mr. California 2001 and 2003.

As the Ramstein Air Base power lifting team coach, he volunteered more than 200 hours recruiting and training new members.

“His outstanding contribution ensured seven first place wins, four second place wins and the overall team-win during the USAFE championships,” said Selvey.

From 1997 to 2000, Saunders coached the Great Falls, Montana Special Olympics Team. He is dedicated to the communities he lives in and to his work. He was awarded the Air Education and Training Command’s Master Instructor in January; only three out of 80 instructors received this prestigious award. In addition, he was awarded the Air Force commendation medal this year, and he won the 435th MMS Senior NCO of the third quarter.

USAFE Athletes of the Year will represent the command for the Air Force Athlete of the Year Award.