Photo Information

AURORA, Colo. — U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Alicia Chambers, expeditionary communications officer, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, right, talks with Joshua Fulton, assistant track and field coach with Barton Community College at the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Convention in Aurora on Dec. 12, 2023. The Marines attending this event engaged with coaches to increase awareness of the Marine Corps and establish a partnership in the track & field and cross-country community. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brenna Ritchie)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Brenna Ritchie

Full Circle: A Marine's Journey from Athletics to the Marine Corps and Back Again

19 Dec 2023 | Lance Cpl. Brenna Ritchie Marine Corps Recruiting Command

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Alicia Chambers, expeditionary communications officer, Expeditionary Strike Force Two, attended the U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association convention in Denver from December 11 – 13, 2023. Chambers, a Marine raised by a Marine who also shares a birthday with the Marine Corps, spoke at the “Women in Coaching” Seminar, a gender-specific seminar designed to connect and empower members of this coaching community.

“The ability to share my story and my experiences being a black female in the Marine Corps and relate to those out there is something I’m thankful for, and it’s been a good experience,” she said. “I’ve had great mentors, and I hope to be that for candidates sitting on the other side of the table, civilians hoping to become Marines and let them discover their path.”

Chambers ran track and field for San Francisco State University from 2008 to 2012. She ran National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 2 for the 400-meter, 200-meter, 100-meter, four-by-four, and four-by-one relay. She attributes much of her success to her college track and field coach.

She shared her story of commissioning in the Marine Corps, following her father’s footsteps, and how she was more afraid to tell her coach than her parents with those attending the conference.

“My dad, he’s a Vietnam veteran,” said Chambers. “I looked up to that man, my father, and wanted to emulate everything he’s done in his community, and I attribute that to the Marine Corps. But the hardest person to tell was my coach because I really wanted him to be on my side. He always wanted the world for me. He knew whatever I did; I was going to be good at it.”

However, when she spoke to her coach, he shared a different sentiment, worried that she wouldn’t be able to reach her fullest potential through the Marine Corps, but he was willing to have his mind changed. She quickly did just that; they’ve been in regular contact since.

Chambers has been in the Marine Corps for 12 years and says she’s loved every second of it. However, one of her biggest struggles was her time on recruiting duty. Chambers was an Officer Selection Officer in Kennesaw, Ga., for three years.

“The Marine Corps put you in positions where you don’t ask to be, and for me, that was recruiting duty,” she said. “I used that as an opportunity to be honest with myself, and being honest meant telling my story of walking into a recruiting office without knowing what a Marine was, and just knowing that is what I wanted to do.

“Relationships I built were the best part of being an OSO. I’ve been out of Georgia for two and a half years, and I still talk to my candidates (some are captains now) monthly,” she said. “We all just check in with each other, and I still go down to commission some candidates in the program.”
Chambers decided to speak at the USTFCCCA convention in order to utilize her experience with track and field and to continue helping the recruiting effort alongside Marine Corps Recruiting Command, even though she is no longer assigned to MCRC. In her opinion, this is a full-circle moment. She started with track and field, grew into the Marine Corps and now represents the Marines at this track and field event.
“Being able to move forward and show our experiences with the next generation is incredible.
I love getting to connect with coaches who are truly making an impact on people’s lives. It’s very special,” Chambers explained.

The Marines initiated their partnership with USTFCCCA in 2021 to establish a formal marketing presence in the track and field and cross-country space. These sports’ dedication to training and competition align closely with the values of the Marine Corps.

“Track and field coaches and the Marine Corps relate in that we selflessly serve men and women and positively influence mission success while ruthlessly caring for those women 24/7,” said Chambers.. “I’ve been thinking about that for the last two months when I was asked to come out here to the USTFCCCA convention. I’ve been surrounded by this community and the coaches that support it. I wanted to find the connection. It’s truly the selfless service that coaches have that we do as well within the Marine Corps.”

Chambers believes these national partnerships are critical because they’re an opportunity for

Marines to give back to the community and bridge the gap between civilians and Marines while showcasing their similarities. Furthermore, she recognizes the need to understand what these communities need, especially if students need leadership training, mentorship or even just showing them opportunities available through the Marine Corps.

“Coaches are the bridge between the Marines and the students,” Chambers said. “National partnerships like these help everyone understand how critical that role is [for both organizations].”

Marine Corps Recruiting Command