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Academy grad, space officer serves on the court

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Rubber soles squeak against the wooden floors as she dribbles, fakes and shoots across the court. The crowd fills with cheers and chatter. It was her time to shine.
Ever since she was a little girl, 2nd Lt. Dymond, 2nd Space Warning Squadron crew commander, loved to be active and play sports.

Her interests in sports varied when she was young, playing softball tennis and soccer. She succeeded at them all, but basketball is where she really shined. As a military 'brat,' she moved around every few years; but at every school she attended, she became a staple to the team.

"I had a knack for it," Dymond said. "Some things you hear in sports is that 'hard work will always beat out talent when talent doesn't work hard.' I became an integral part of every team I was on."

Dymond has played basketball competitively since she was 8 years old. Her father was the one who got her into sports and encouraged her to be active. She played throughout high school and earned multiple scholarships to play basketball at Division I colleges.

One of the colleges that offered her a basketball scholarship was the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. On her tour of the campus, she started to think that following her father's footsteps into the Air Force was a good idea.

"It seemed like the right thing to do when I went on my official visit," she said. "The school seemed right; and what it was about, knowing the Air Force a bit with my background, it seemed like the perfect fit."

Dymond took the scholarship and began her journey as part of the Academy's women's basketball team, playing there for four years.

It took a lot of work, but it all paid off, she said. Even after graduation and at her first duty station, Dymond found the opportunity to still play ball by joining the Buckley basketball team. Her coach from the Academy and Buckley's basketball coach, Gerald Cummings, both suggested that she try out for the Air Force's basketball team, and that's exactly what she did.

"We don't get the opportunity to get athletes of that caliber often," Cummings said. "I thought we could put her in for the tryouts for the Air Force team. She's a good ball player. She had the experience, so I knew she'd fit in real well."

Tryouts took place on a camp in Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, for two and a half weeks. The contenders worked seven days a week, practicing their athletic skills, working out and having intense two-a-day practices. After what seemed like a lifetime, Dymond got the news that she was selected to play on the Air Force women's basketball team.

"I was excited," Dymond said. "I was going to do anything in my power to make the team. And I did."

After having a little over a month to practice as a team, James and her teammates were ready for their first game together.

Since she already played on a Division I college team, she was used to the deafening cheers and distracting crowd. Most of her teammates, however, were not. James found herself being the voice of reason, calming the Air Force team members' nerves and pumping them up for their big game.

Dymond's team played the other three services twice each until the final two teams were standing. At the end of the tournament, it ended up being the Army and Air Force teams going head to head.

"They had a well-developed team," she said. "Army's team went pretty deep, and they were definitely talented."

The Air Force team ended up taking home second place, with Dymond scoring an average of seven points and eight rebounds per game.

She plans to try out for the team again next year as long as her job allows the time for it, she said. Until then, she will continue playing on the Buckley basketball team, as well as playing in her free time.

"Overall, it was a good experience," she said. "It was different working with people from Italy, and some people who were stationed in Anchorage. Enlisted and officers - so it was kind of a cool concept. We came together as a team and rank went out the window."

When not playing ball with the Air force team, Dymond can be found with her fellow Airmen in the 460th Operations Group. As a crew commander in the 2nd SWS, she oversees a 15-member crew, providing tactical  missile warning to national leaders and combatant commanders around the globe.

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