News: Balancing act: A soldier, mother and competitor balances multiple roles
Story by Sgt. Kissta DiGregorio
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Finding a way to balance responsibilities at home and work can be difficult for anyone, especially for service members. This challenge increases when extracurricular activities are added on top of everything else. However, 1st Lt. Alysia Franco has found ways to fulfill her duties to the Army, her family, and her team.
Franco is a platoon leader assigned to C Company, 407th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, raising her 2-year-old son while her husband is stationed overseas, and is an outside hitter for the women’s All Army Volleyball Team. She and her 11 teammates, female soldiers from U.S. Army posts all over the world, are training to compete in the Armed Forces Championship Volleyball Tournament in Chicago, Ill., May 22-26.
Franco has been enthralled with the sport since middle school, a passion that continued into high school and college, where she played for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for two years. The Houston native started to miss her roots, however, and transferred to the University of Texas at Arlington, where she enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps and began playing for the school’s club team.
After she earned her commission as a second lieutenant, she was assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C. While in the gym one day, she noticed a flier advertising the All Army Volleyball Team, and decided to try out. After making it through final cuts, the team members assembled at Fort Bragg, May 28, to begin a rigorous practice schedule lasting nearly six hours of every day. Franco was also in the process of helping her unit prepare to conduct a large-scale training exercise. “I thought I’d bit off more than I could chew,” said Franco.
Along with participating in unit training exercises and a calendar packed with team practices and out-of-town scrimmages, Franco cares for her son while her husband, Arturo, fulfills his duties for the Army. Arturo has been stationed in Germany for the entirety of their three-year marriage.
“It has been a true test of my time management skills,” she said about balancing her responsibilities at home, work and for the team. “My command team has been very supportive and I get a lot of help from my unit,” she said. Several females in her unit even went so far as to take her son, Arjay, to daycare for her while she was in the field.
She receives that same support and camaraderie from her coach, Sarah Lusk, and her teammates. “We were an instant network of close friends,” she said. “They understand if I have to leave early and are willing to work around my schedule.”
This support allows her to concentrate on the task at hand – winning gold at the upcoming tournament. The women’s All Army team took first place at the tournament last year, and Franco said she feels confident about the women making up the team this year, even though only four are veterans of the competition. “We’re all passionate about the same thing,” Franco said. “It brings us all together.”
Teams from four military services – Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines – will be competing in the tournament. The best players from each team will be chosen to play for the Armed Forces Championship Team. This year, the championship team will compete in Amsterdam against more than 100 teams from around the world. Franco said she had missed the thrill of competition and is excited to play again. Although her husband will not be able to be there to watch the games, she said she knows he is supporting her from far away as best he can.