It was a special day for DePaul freshman Maddie Crowell. Right before the women’s basketball team put up a 91-65 thrashing of a tough Villanova team, Crowell stood at center court and took the Oath of Enlistment for the United States Army.
“Ever since I was young, I’ve always said that I’ve wanted to join the Army,” Crowell said. “Growing up, I’ve always had that soldier mentality.”
Crowell’s decision to enlist in the Army was influenced by her family. Her father enlisted straight out of college and her grandfather is a World War II Army veteran and prisoner of war. Not to mention her two uncles who just recently retired from the Army.
“I have always had pride for my family’s military history and now I want to forge my own Army path,” she said. “I love this country and this is a step in the right direction of serving my country and fulfilling my dream of becoming an Army officer.”
Crowell said that the idea to take the Oath of Enlistment wasn’t hers originally. Sgt. First Class Marc Westenbarger, her sergeant and captain, emailed her to let her know she was being contracted that week and gave the suggestion to take the Oath before a game. Crowell got the event approved by head coach Doug Bruno and it was set.
“I was nervous, my mom saw my hand shaking a little bit, it was a serious moment and a big step towards my future,” Crowell said. “I was glad that Fox Sports 1 and DePaul covered it.”
Crowell will go into the ROTC already ahead of her peers. She stepped into a leadership role when two of the cadets who were supposed to be leading a meeting were unavailable to make it, so she took initiative and led the meeting.
“Ms. Crowell, as a MS I (freshman), is way ahead of her peers. She is currently serving in a leadership role which is normally reserved for a junior-level cadet,” Sgt. First Class Marc Westernbarger said. “Ms. Crowell stepped up to fill the position of Squad Leader, and is exceeding all of our cadre’s expectations. She is currently in the process of becoming a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army and is on a dedicated path to be a very successful one.”
Crowell’s schedule will now be extremely intense as she balances basketball, academics and being in the Army.
“It still blows my mind,” she said. “Everyday I’m amazed that I will push myself as hard as I can for things that I want, such as playing basketball and also being in the Army.”
Part of pushing herself includes waking up at 5:30 a.m. three days a week to work out for ROTC and make sure she is fit according to Army standards. Then she has her basketball practices and games, plus keeping up on her academics which, according her ROTC captain, always come first.
Head Coach Doug Bruno was emotional about Crowell taking the Oath before a basketball game, saying that he had tears in his eyes as he watched her enlist.
“At DePaul, our 18-22 year olds compete on the court and in the classroom, while those who serve in our military choose to fight for our country. I am so proud of Madeline,” he said. “She works hard on the court every day as a student-athlete to make our team better. I know that she will be an excellent officer in the U.S. Army.”
With the Oath of Enlistment, Crowell will receive a scholarship to DePaul and will have four years of service to the Army upon graduation, where she will graduate as a 2nd Lt. with soldiers under her command. She hopes to become a medical corps officer after graduation when the Army sends her to medical school. She is currently majoring in health sciences at DePaul.