U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Micah Wessinger is back at work in her military role as the 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron installation deployment officer at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter.
She recently took time out to play on the U.S. Armed Forces Women’s Basketball Team in the Headquarters AirCom Inter-Nation Basketball Tournament at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England.
Wessinger, a Chester native, played guard on the U.S. team and led the Americans to a gold medal with a 90-89 win over Germany. Wessinger picked up MVP honors for the tournament. The United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium and Poland also played in the event.
Wessinger finished the gold medal game with 19 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals. More importantly, she made her final four free throws late in the game to help secure the victory. The 5-foot-6-inch shooting guard played all 40 minutes of the gold medal game, contributing at both ends of the floor.
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“I have been taught since high school about the importance of defense,” said Wessinger. “I have always liked playing defense. If you keep them from scoring, then you do not have to score as much.”
Bobby Seaberry served as coach of the U.S. women’s team and named Wessinger team captain at the start of the tournament because of her leadership.
“She did a great job in the tournament,” said Seaberry. “She hit some big shots, knocked down some big free throws, and played hard defense to come away with a few steals and grab some big rebounds for the team.”
Wessinger grew up in Chester and loved sports at an early age. She played all sports growing up, and when she got to middle school she played volleyball and basketball. Once in high school she played basketball and ran track and cross country.
“I really loved all sports,” added Wessinger. “I enjoyed playing all of them.”
She was a starter in varsity basketball at Chester High School for four years. The first two were under head coach Ezekiel Washington, who is now the head boys’ basketball coach at Blythewood High School.
“He was really strict, but he taught me a lot about hard work, sacrifice and teamwork,” Wessinger said. “I remember the workouts, and that work ethic has been helpful in other sports.”
Washington remembers Wessinger as a hard worker and a tremendous leader.
“She wanted to be a good player from the beginning,” Washington said. “She really worked on being a good defensive player, and she was a good offensive player. She had a strong work ethic, she was a good leader, and she was very coachable.”
Wessinger played her final two years at Chester High for coach Marilyn Milton. She enjoyed the up-tempo style of play that the Cyclones played, and she also liked the importance Milton placed on defense.
“She was one of the hardest workers I have ever coached,” said Milton. “She never complained, and she did everything that we asked of her. She was a quiet leader on and off the floor. I am very proud of her recent accomplishments.”
Wessinger ran the 800 meters among other events in high school track. During her final three seasons, she won the state championship in the 800 meters. In addition she ran on several of the relay teams, which placed well in the state finals.
“It would be hard for me say which is the most thrilling for me,” said Wessinger. “Winning state three times in track was awesome, but this basketball gold medal and MVP award is right up there.”
After high school Wessinger went to The Citadel on a track scholarship. She graduated in 2013 with a degree in accounting and earned an ROTC commission as a 2nd lieutenant in the Air Force.
Wessinger adds that she has had a long list of role models as she grew up in Chester.
“I would have to say my parents are at the top of the list,” said Wessinger. “They made me do things right. They made sure that I always did my school work first, and they instilled in me the value of hard work.”
The inter-nation basketball tournament will be played again in two years, and Wessinger is already looking forward to another opportunity to play in it.
“I loved every minute of it this time around,” Wessinger said.
She really enjoyed the travel and talked about the lasting friendships she made.
“The travel was great. I enjoyed seeing those parts of the world,” she said. “The camaraderie among the team members was tremendous. We are already keeping up with each other on Facebook.”
Wessinger was selected for the team this time around because someone had seen her play in a previous tournament and sent her an email asking if she wanted to participate.
After her performance in this year’s event, she will not be hard to find. She is nearing completion of her second year of a four-year military commitment, and she will still be in the Air Force when the next tournament is staged.
“I have not ruled out making a career in the military,” Wessinger said. “Right now, I am not certain. Ask me in a year, and I will definitely know.”