Military Has Special Meaning to @LATechSB Berkley Calapp
April 2, 2018
By Alex Heard
RUSTON -- Every day, members of the United States military go out and do what many do not have the courage to do - leave it all on the line for their country.
They put their bodies, and their whole life’s journey up to that point, at risk in order for us to live our everyday lives.
They know at any moment life could change – or even end -- dramatically. Yet, they still find the will to go out and protect our freedom. The bravery those heroes portray inspires many citizens back here in the U.S.
For Berkley Calapp, a junior infielder for the Louisiana Tech softball team, the military is ingrained in her family thus giving her extra inspiration.
Her grandfather, Dywane, is a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer. And he was just one of a number of family members who have served or are serving in the military.
Growing up, she and her family would go visit him in San Diego at Naval Air Station Miramar.
However, after she and her family moved to Colorado from Utah when she was ten her grandfather’s military presence was no longer a huge part of her life.
Berkley said since she was so young and naïve during her grandfather’s stint with the military that it did not make nearly the impact it does now with her brother.
“The military was never really a big part of my life until my brother joined in 2014,” Berkley said. “Ever since he joined, the military has been a pretty significant part of our life. We base our views on the military now.”
Her brother, Blake, has been in the United States Marine Corps for over three years. Her boyfriend, Grayson Oblender, is also in the Marines and has been for over two years.
The daily mental grind of the military instills values, such as work ethic, into the men and women that serve – who then pass it on to their loved ones.
Burr Calapp, her father, said he does not believe the military has affected his daughter’s work ethic on the field.
“Berkley’s work ethic was there from day one,” Burr said. “I just kind of had to point her in the right direction.”
However, Berkley said her brother’s service motivates and inspires the way she plays.
“The military has helped me on the softball field,” Berkley said. “Seeing my brother and how it has made him more determined and courageous, when I am on the field I play like I have nothing to lose. I play for [those in the military].”
Berkley said she and her brother share the same work ethic.
“My brother and I are both so dedicated to what we do,” she said. “We have the same level of integrity and try to go all-out in everything we are doing.”
Another reason why it took so long for Berkley to truly experience the military was because her father was not a serviceman.
Her father said his dad discouraged him from joining.
“He worked right on base and I was ready to go [into the military],” Burr said. “But he said, ‘It is not the life for you especially if you are going to have a family.’”
In addition to putting their lives at risk, soldiers sacrifice other things as well: namely their relationship with their families. They rarely see them after they are deployed. However, knowing the heroism their loved ones show makes deployment easier.
Burr said giving up daily social interactions with loved ones is the price you pay joining.
“You give up day-to-day interactions with your family,” he said. “So you cherish those moments you are with them so you want to make every minute count.”
Berkley said she does make those minutes count with her brother and, contrary to belief, his deployment has only made their relationship stronger.
“I have not been able to see him a whole lot since he joined,” she said. “So when I do see him those moments are very special. Even though we are so far apart our relationship has grown. When we talk it is so much more meaningful. We text, snapchat and play Xbox.”
Each year, Tech softball hosts a military appreciation game to honor those who serve or who have served. This year’s game saw Tech sweep a doubleheader from FIU on March 17.
Every game Berkley plays means a lot to her but this game means so much more.
“This game means so much to me every year,” she said. “I leave it all out on the field, especially for this game. I [am] more motivated to play for my brother and grandpa.”
Berkley said her athletic career would have not changed had the military never entered her life, she would still be at Tech, nonetheless, the views she acquired from loved ones serving would have changed.
“I do not think I would have as strong views if my brother and boyfriend were not in the military,” she said. “I do not believe I would view the military as strongly as I do now. Many people who do not have ties into the military do not fully understand what the flag means, they take it for granted.”
Having a loved one overseas living in a war zone can take a toll on a person. There is the constant fear of getting that dreaded phone call, that their family member payed the ultimate price.
Berkley is no different from those who constantly fear for their loved ones’ safety.
“I absolutely have anxieties about my brother being overseas,” Berkley said. “Deployment is really hard on families. Knowing what is going on in the Middle East and having him over there, it is definitely always nerve-wracking. You do not know what is going on until you get to talk to them.”
Despite that fear, she has no doubt in her brother’s training to keep him safe.
“I trust his training,” Berkley said. “I trust the Marines will have him ready for whatever situation that approaches.”
Her father said the military did not hit him as hard emotionally until his children served.
“When I hear the Star-Spangled Banner and sing the national anthem it gives me chills,” Burr said. “I am still emotional, more so with my children than my dad. I understood it growing up but it has affected me more with my children out there. Berkley would be perfect for the military with her personal structure.”
Berkley has not ruled out a future in the military, especially with her long-time boyfriend already in the Marines.
“I still somewhat am thinking of joining the military,” she said. “I thought about it more last year. I definitely think I can be a person who could join the military.”
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