Ale Shortridge is up to the challenge

Emma Collins

The time in college between freshman year and junior year can really change a person’s life, and Ale Shortridge’s story is certainly a testament to that: she just finished the two-day Ranger Challenge Competition.

“I really worked hard through the semester, and I was really excited to get to compete. It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. Now, looking back, I can’t believe I actually did something like that,” Shortridge said.

Ranger Challenge Team

Just a few short years ago, Shortridge was a freshman who picked Georgia Southern University for the ROTC program it offered. Coming into college, Shortridge really didn’t even know that much about what she was getting herself into. Early in that year though, she was asked to try out for the 2013 Ranger Challenge Team.

“My freshman year, when I first started doing ROTC, I didn’t know anything about the Army—what they did. I came in completely blind, but I was pretty athletic in high school. We had our first PT test, and I did really well. That’s when one of the team members asked if I would come out, and I did,” Shortridge said.

Shortridge made the team as an alternate in 2013, but found herself wishing she was able to compete with the team during the two-day competition at Camp Blanding, Fla.

“I remember really wanting to compete and be out there with the team because training with them and then not getting to compete sucked,” Shortridge said.

At the beginning of the training for the 2013 competition, Shortridge found the physical demands of the training much harder than she had imagined.

“When we started doing ruck marches, it was something I wasn’t used to. I didn’t have the strength to do it. I’ve never run with a bunch of weight on my back, and I had to get used to it. Over time, I did and I was able to keep up with everyone else,” Shortridge said.

Shortridge tried out for the 2015 Ranger Challenge Team and this time, she was not an alternate. This time, she made the team. She credits her ability to make the team to continued endurance training.

“Over time, I just got better at running and used to the rucking,” Shortridge said.

Women’s Rifle Team

Not only did Shortridge just finish the most intense competition of her life, but she has also been a member of the Georgia Southern Rifle Team for two seasons, since it was first started. Though she had no previous rifle experience besides going shooting with her dad occasionally and what she had learned during her time in the ROTC, she has proved a valuable member of the team.

“I think it was my sophomore year, we were at a field training exercise, and I heard that there was going to be some sort of shooting team. I thought it was just a club team at first, so I signed my name up,” Shortridge said. “I found out that there were going to be tryouts, and then I found out that it was going to be an NCAA team, so I came out to the tryouts.”

Overall, Shortridge is proud of how far she has come and how much she has changed since her freshman year. During that time, she has gone from being an alternate on the team to having just completed the actual Ranger Challenge Competition, as the only girl on the team.

“It can be intimidating sometimes but I have come a very long way from my freshman year,” Shortridge said.