To the eye, Lt. Nicole Auth is a typical Coast Guardsman. Dressed in her deep blue operational dress uniform with her sandy blonde hair neatly tucked into a standard bun, she can be found working as a member of District Seventeen’s prevention and investigations staff. She is a confident and upbeat individual. However, she also has a certain humbleness about her that is derived from her small-town New England roots, which is why her role as a member of the U.S. Women’s military sailing team may be a little less obvious.
Auth and her teammates took the bronze medal at the 5th World Military Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, July 22.
“We weren’t expecting to do that,” Auth said of her team’s victory, “But we were excited to be able to represent the U.S. and the armed forces.”
The World Military Games, sponsored by the International Military Council, are held every four years. Military athletes, as well as a few Olympic athletes, from around the globe come together for the eight-day competition. A total of 37 sports are represented, including everything from basketball to skydiving to orienteering. The council also organizes more than 20 international military sports championships every year.
The U.S. sailing team, made up of Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps members, had only 11 days to prepare for this year’s event during training in Annapolis, Md.
“Most of us hadn’t met each other before and luckily everybody got along great,” said Auth, “It was a great group of people to sail with.”
Auth, originally from Lamoine, Maine, has been sailing since high school and sailed for the Coast Guard Academy team before graduating in 2004.
Last year, she was a member of the U.S. coed team at the international sailing championship in Bahrain. Since then, she and her teammates have been recruiting their fellow service members to apply for the program, and this year the U.S. had enough sailors to create a separate four-man team and five-woman team for the games.
Navy Capt. Eric Irwin, commanding officer of the Command Leadership School and the U.S. sailing team captain, was grateful to have Auth return as a member of this year’s women’s team.
“Lt. Auth’s high standards, team skills and ability to communicate were a great asset to the team,” he said, “Her experience was of great assistance to further relations with the many countries involved as well as preparing the team for the overall event.”
The teams were not only setback by their short preparation time, but they also ran into another obstacle upon their arrival in Brazil. They discovered they’d be racing on a boat different from the one they’d used in Annapolis.
“We only had one day to practice on the new boat,” Auth said, “We had to work through some tweaks.”
The teams rallied, however, in the 12 race competition, where the women finished behind Brazil and Poland, and the men finished 8th overall.
“I was most proud of the sailing team’s ability to work together, interact with other military teams and leave a very positive impression of the United States military,” said Irwin, “All were true professionals.”
The International Military Sports Council was founded in 1948 and aims to promote world peace by uniting the armed forces of various countries through sports. This year, 6,000 athletes from 80 countries, including 141 Americans participated in the games and the U.S. took home a total of four medals.
While Auth admits winning a medal and seeing the U.S. flag raised at the awards ceremony was exciting, she says the most rewarding part of the games was making connections with service members from around the world.
“You find a commonality through a sport and realize you have more similarities than differences,” Auth said, “And with the armed forces, you don’t really think of people getting together for sports and having fun and getting to know each other, but it’s just an awesome opportunity to do that.”
The U.S. sailing team is sponsored by the Navy but is made up of service members from all of the military branches. This year, there were three Coast Guardsmen on the women’s team, Auth, Lt. Elizabeth Tufts of District Eleven in Alameda, Calif, and Lt. Krysia Pohl of Sector Puget Sound in Seattle, and one on the men’s team, Lt. Robert Gorman of the Joint Interagency Task Force South in Key West, Fla.
More information on the International Military Sports Council and World Military Games can be found at www.cism-milspot.org.