Jayhawk Insider: Salute to Service
By: Jordan Cronan
LAWRENCE, Kan. — As the nation celebrates Veterans Day, Kansas rowing is thanking two of its own for serving our nation during their four years as Jayhawks and for the years to come.
Each following in their father’s footsteps, Amanda Binger and Payeton Sellon are not only representing Kansas as student-athletes, but also representing their country while serving in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).
While still in high school, Binger and Sellon made the decision to apply for scholarships in the same branches at their fathers – For Binger the Air Force and for Sellon the Army.
Being a student-athlete and a member of ROTC, means balancing all the responsibilities that come with each – a task that has proven to be difficult at times. However, Binger and Sellon have embraced the challenge and are making the most out of each experience.
“We may have a four mile run at ROTC that ends at 7 a.m., I’ll change and go to the boat house at 7:30 a.m. to row a 10k,” Sellon said. “It’s interesting because they’re both a workout, but they’re different. They both require a lot of mental toughness.”
Although the workouts and trainings are very different, Sellon has been able to take her experiences in ROTC and put them towards rowing.
For the last two years, Sellon as participated in the Ranger Buddy Competition. Held at Rim Rock Farm, the Ranger Buddy Competition is a 15-mile course that is usually completed in about four hours. Sellon pulls from the mental toughness she uses during this training applies it out on the water during a 4,000-meter race.
“When we were in Oklahoma City, I didn’t view the 4,000-meter course as that, but breaking it up and not thinking that you have 4,000 meters, but that I have 1,000 meters and then doing another and another,” Sellon said.
Along with having the mental toughness, Binger has come to know through her ROTC training that as much as being a good leader is important, you must also be a great follower and team player.
“I have learned to not only be a great leader, but knowing when to follow is a large aspect of working together,” Binger said. “Nothing will ever get done if you just have a bunch of people trying to lead.”
Taking this mindset into rowing has been beneficial as learning to follow others is key to any boat’s success. The coxswain takes the lead and guides the rowers through the water. It’s important that every member of the boat is following the coxswain’s instructions to victory.
Besides being able to incorporate experiences between ROTC and rowing, the opportunities that Sellon and Binger have been a part of because of ROTC has been life changing.
Sellon spent time this summer in Vietnam with the Cultural Understanding and Leadership Program. Cadets from across America applied to visit military bases around Vietnam. Not only did Sellon’s group of 30 cadets visit the military academies, but they visited orphanages, did beach cleanups and visited museums and famous landmarks.
“We taught them about our country and military, while they taught us about theirs,” Sellon said. “We were able to build relationships not only through the military, but also culturally.”
With just one more year of school, Sellon will be graded and ranked this summer at camp that she has been training for the last three years. She hopes to get military intelligence and wants to be stationed in Italy.
As for Binger, with three years left, her plans are a little more up in the air, but she hopes to go to pharmacy school and spend eight years in the Air Force as a pharmacist.
“I have also considered becoming a pilot and changing my major to be a weather officer, but I haven’t thought too much about it because pharmacy has always been my number one plan,” Binger said.
For both first-year rowers, the challenge of balancing life as a student-athlete and member of the ROTC is well worth it. Each will take what they learn as a rower and apply to the ROTC and vice versa and for years to come these Jayhawks will make Kansas and the nation proud.
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