Defending Freedom on the Courts of Germany

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ruben Garibay
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Self-identity is prominent in finding one’s purpose and its key to an individual's resilience and mental health. Knowing who you are and continuing to develop it further, takes effort and it’s a skill most are challenged with learning while serving in the military. 

For many individuals, like Senior Airman Makayla Robinson, 377th Weapons Security Systems Squadron defender, have broken the barrier between developing their identity and being given their identity.  

At 26 years old, Robinson is a Savannah, Georgia native and has always been drawn to sports throughout her entire life. 

“I’ve been playing basketball ever since I was four years old,” Robinson says with a smile on her face. “Basketball, soccer, track, anything you can name. But basketball has stuck with me the most.” 

Basketball comes naturally to Robinson. Ever since she can remember, basketball has been around, whether she was playing it for fun or on a team. 

From elementary school to high school, she graduated from Effingham County High School playing for the Effingham Lady Rebels woman’s basketball team. It was here that she received a basketball scholarship to Troy University. 

For four years, she played as Trojan representing Troy University. At the same time, she was completing her bachelor's degree in criminal justice, and right as she was ready to start the next chapter of her life, the unexpected happened. 

“Covid hit me hard,” she recalls. “It hit everyone hard. It just happened to be that when it came, I was almost done with my schooling. Finding a solid job was no longer seeable.” 

Upon encountering a challenge, Robinson perseveres. She completed her bachelor's degree and ventured out to find a relevant job to her degree. 

With a goal in mind, and a family history of having loved ones who have served, Robinson began looking at new avenues to start the next chapter of her life. 

“I knew I wanted to keep playing basketball but also wanted to get into the investigation side of law enforcement,” Robinson explains. “My family told me, you know you can play basketball in the military, right?” 

Members of her family served in the Navy, but her brother encouraged her to try something new. Knowing she didn’t want to join the Army or the Marine Corps, the Air Force was the branch she decided to look into. 

“I saw the Air Force had the Office of Special Investigation,” she describes. “Security Forces was the correct route to get my foot in the door and it aligned with my degree. So I signed up.” 

She joined in 2022 and made it to Kirtland Air Force Base the same year. It was here, Robinson began playing pick-up basketball games at the East Side Fitness Center. 

“I was playing one day and some Space Force dude said, you’re pretty good! “Robinson remembers. “Little did I know, he knew the coach for the Woman’s Armed Forces Basketball team. He put me into contact, and I was able to try out.” 

After a vigorous tryout session against both officers and enlisted members from different service branches, Robinson made the Woman’s Armed Forces Basketball team. With her new founded team, she practiced tirelessly together in preparation for the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe [SHAPE] International Basketball Tournament.

She traveled overseas with her team to represent the U.S. and play against different countries in Germany, France and the United Kingdom. 

“It was definitely a different game playing with foreigners,” recalls Robinson. “Their playing style was more aggressive than how we play here in the States. It reminded me of how serious it was” 

Robinson’s team placed first place and won the overseas championship, bringing home team USA with another victory. 

“It was such an unforgettable experience,” she remarks excitedly. “I look back and was just so thankful to have the support of my home squadron, [377 WSSS], and hearing the cheers from all the people in the stands, was amazing.” 

Robinson also said that a driving motivation factor was her basketball role model Chelsea Gray from the Las Vegas Aces. 

“Seeing her play just reminded me of myself,” she says. “Her game all around is just top tier, all around. I want her to know that I look up to her, and to keep pursuing everything she has in her book, and I hope one day reach the level that she is at.” 

Today, Robinson still has her heart set on playing for an official basketball league one day. In five years, she aims to commission from the enlisted ranks to the officer ranks. Ultimately, joining the Air Force has allowed her to do the things she loves, work in career field centered around law enforcement and play the game she loves, basketball.  

“This whole experience gave me a new perspective,” she finishes. “I got to see a new side of myself. What can I say, I like shooting guns and I like shooting shots.”