For any competitive athlete in the military, representing one’s unit or base is an honor, even more so, is the opportunity to represent one’s branch of service.
For Staff Sgt. John-Paul Hansen, a C-130J and C-17 test loadmaster with the 418th Flight Test Squadron, that opportunity arose when he was selected to join the All-Air Force golf team at the Armed Forces Golf Championships at Parris Island, S.C., Sept. 15 through 18.
“I knew that the Air Force fielded teams of all sports every year to represent the service, but I never thought I was actually going to be one of the individuals that was lucky enough to represent the Air Force,” said Hansen.
Prior to making the All-Air Force team, Hansen had to undergo a challenging climb that initially began at the Woodlawn Open base championship held June 20 through 23 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
“The season started with the base championship at Ramstein AB and I won that tournament shooting one under par for three days,” Hansen said. “I then competed in the U.S. Air Forces in Europe championships and I won that tournament shooting even par for four days.”
After placing first at the USAFE tournament held at the Woodlawn golf course in Ramstein AB July 18 through 21, Hansen said he decided to submit a Form 303, which is equivalent to an athletic résumé, to the services headquarters at Randolph AB, Texas, to try for the All-Air Force trials.
“Once I was selected to try out, the final team was selected by competing in a four-day tournament with the top six players making the team to compete against the other services in the Armed Forces Tournament,” said Hansen. “Overall, I finished 6 out of 24 individuals during the All-Air Force tournament and finished 14 out of 24 in the final Armed Forces tournament.”
To get to this point, Hansen said his drive to play at a more competitive level started at a much earlier age and continued from there, but would definitely recommend the sports programs available through the Air Force to anyone wanting to compete at the next tier.
“I started when I was about four years old and have been playing for about 30 years, but I really started getting serious with this sport in high school,” said Hansen. “Like most kids, I idolized my father. He was a good player when I was growing up and I just wanted to hang out with him. After he taught me the basics of how to play, I was hooked. It’s one of the only sports you can never master and play your whole life.”
“If golfers want to try this route, I recommend they play in as many tournaments as possible to build a resume, submit a Form 303 to their Services section, and hope for selection,” added Hansen. “I know I will apply every year that is possible. This opportunity was amazing. Our government is in such fiscal turmoil and the fact that they allowed us to travel around the country and compete against one another was incredible. I am proud to be in the Air Force and hope to participate in years to come.”
Hansen arrived at Edwards from Ramstein AB last week.