SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Second Lt. Carly Serratore may have arrived at Schriever for her first duty assignment this summer, but she's no stranger to the military way of life. She's been connected to the Air Force for the better part of two decades.
Those who follow Air Force hockey will recognize her surname. She's the daughter of Frank Serratore, the U.S. Air Force Academy's hockey coach since 1996.
While most young women typically get a small taste of the family business, such as take-your-daughter-to-work days, Carly Serratore had a front-row seat for many years, and saw how a team conducts business at the top level of college hockey.
There, she learned first-hand how a strong work ethic, preparation, teamwork and discipline translate into success.
She spent her earliest years in Minnesota and Canada, but moved to Colorado Springs along with two older brothers, a younger sister and mom and dad, when Frank Serratore took the head hockey coach job at the Academy.
Growing up here, she was ensconced in competitive sports.
Besides supporting her dad's hockey teams, she's watched her twin older brothers compete in elite level club hockey. They both went on to play college hockey. And, she satisfied her own competitive streak by playing volleyball and basketball at Pine Creek High School.
When it came time to choose a college, she had many offers, but decided to attend the Academy, in part because of the travel opportunities.
"I had applied to colleges all around the country and didn't consider the Academy until late in my senior year after talking with my cousin, who is a 2010 Academy graduate," she said. "He told me he was able to travel to many places through study-abroad type programs. I love traveling and experiencing new places, so that was the clincher for me I think."
It didn't hurt that she was keenly familiar with the environment north of Colorado Springs.
"I knew the Academy from the athletic standpoint," she said. "It was pretty much my playground growing up, but I didn't know a lot about the cadet lifestyle. As it turned out, I was pretty lucky that I had 30 older brothers (hockey players) on campus. I think that eased the transition."
Upon hearing the news that his daughter had chosen to attend the Academy, Frank Serratore said he wasn't surprised or concerned.
"If Carly wasn't fully committed to succeed, she would have never chosen the Academy," he said. "She knew what she was getting into, but I also think there is a perception that it takes somewhat of a super human to succeed here and that's not true. In recruiting to the Academy, the key is identifying the right type of person. The right type of person will recognize all the Academy has to offer and will jump at the opportunity. Carly was the right type of person."
She acclimated well, majored in management and spent much of her free time around the rink. During her junior and senior years, she worked as the hockey team's videographer, which meant traveling with the team on road trips. During that time, Air Force won two conference championships and qualified for the 2012 NCAA championship tournament.
Frank Serratore said the times Carly traveled along with the hockey team were one of the highlights of his 30-year coaching career.
"Being able to have my daughter travel with me to so many terrific cities, states and campuses was an opportunity not many coaches get to experience with one of their children," he said. "We also shared two championship seasons during her four years at the Academy. It was especially fun because both of us love traveling and both of us love sports. I loved getting her perspective on the games. She gets competitive sports, understands the game, recognizes competition levels, and she doesn't pull punches.
This year has been really tough on me because I miss my 'wing daughter.' It was pretty cool having a college-age daughter who didn't mind hanging out with her dad."
Carly Serratore also took advantage of travel opportunities for Academy students. She visited Algeria and Columbia on cultural exchanges, Chile as part of a summer intern program and Spain on a foreign-academy visit.
Upon graduation, she made a list of her top choices for her first assignment.
"I was anticipating going to another new place, and because of that, Colorado Springs was near the bottom of my list," she said. "But, when I found out I'd be stationed at Schriever, I was still excited. It meant I could be here to support my little sister, Carina, who plays high school volleyball at Discovery Canyon."
For now, she's busy adapting to work as a financial services officer for the 50th Comptroller Squadron.
If you don't happen to meet her on your next trip to the finance office, chances are you'll find her hanging out at the Cadet Ice Arena during Air Force home games.