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ONG Scholarship "vaults" Airman to the National Championship

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ivy Thomas
  • 121st Air Refueling Wing

RICKENBACKER AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ohio -- In the seventh grade, Tyler Shipley began watching videos of pole vaulters and learning how to jump all on his own. In his junior year of high school, he would finally have a coach. Little did he know that his initiative to learn and drive to serve his country would later lead him to the national championship.

Airman First Class Tyler Shipley, an Ohio Air National Guard cyber systems operations specialist with the 121st Air Refueling Wing, enlisted in February 2022. Shipley ensures effective and efficient communication and information flow throughout the base and installs, supports, and maintains servers and computer systems.

"I wanted to go to college and pursue pole vaulting," said Shipley. "I also wanted to support my country in any way I could, and I knew the guard would help make all this happen by paying my tuition."

Shipley is in his Sophomore year at the Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Mount Vernon, Ohio, majoring in computer systems and network engineering. He is also a pole vaulter on the track and field team.

"The Guard makes it easy to be a student-athlete because it is only one weekend a month and two weeks out of the summer," said Shipley.

Being a Guardsman gives him plenty of time to focus on academics and athletics. His hard work, time management, and dedication would soon pay off.

After long practices, six days a week, Shipley found himself at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Indoor Track and Field National Championships on March 2nd, 2024, in Brookings, South Dakota.

"Leading up to the meet, I was so excited to compete and was beyond blessed that God had provided me with this opportunity," said Shipley. "Usually, I get a little nervous, but I have never been so calm at the biggest meet of my life; I prayed the entire time."

Shipley entered the meet ranking thirteenth and left placing seventh. By placing in the top eight, he earned the title of All-American. His personal record is 4.92 meters, sitting second in the nation.

"I knew that no matter what happened, the outcome was as God intended it to be," said Shipley. "He deserves everything."

Now, Shipley strives to beat his PR and continues to serve in the Air National Guard.

"I wouldn't be able to pursue this dream of mine, going to college and pole vaulting, if it weren't for the Air National Guard," said Shipley. "The guard has made this all possible for me, and I am beyond blessed."

Shipley has a few words for anyone considering joining the Air National Guard.

"If you are thinking about college or joining the guard, I highly encourage it because it made my dreams possible," said Shipley. "The benefits you get, the people you meet, and the knowledge you gain will put you ahead of your peers."