Former trustee graduates from simulated Navy SEAL training

By Chris Studor

“Challenges in water, sea and sand,” is how Hinckley resident Melissa Augustine described the simulated Navy SEAL training she recently participated in. The simulated training program is one of many diverse leadership programs run by Authentica, a global business leadership company. The SEAL program was held in Geneva, Ohio, at the Spire Olympic Training Center.

“This program strives to push us as humans, activate our potential, and learn who we are and work as a team,” said Augustine.

Authentica is a consulting firm, which primarily delivers business international leadership programs, leadership development and assessment centers for training. The Navy SEAL leadership program is run by SEAL Commander Mark McGinnis and CW05 Rick Joplin, a US Navy SEAL.

Augustine is no stranger to leadership activities having served as a Hinckley Township trustee and have been selected for and graduated from Leadership Medina County. She has served as president and vice president of the Hinckley PTO, where she led initiatives to rebuild the playground and make Chromebooks available for all students. She is currently serving as vice president of the Hinckley Chamber of Commerce and was just elected to the Medina County Central Committee and is an alternate to the Medina County Planning Commission.

“One of the first things they asked of us when we arrived was to have us pick a nickname and I choose “Madre,” which means mother in Spanish because that’s what my children call me and I figured it would be a name I would answer to, even if it was called out by a stranger,” she said. “We were then placed into three groups of 14 individuals, with three women in all participating. The youngest in our group was 30 and the oldest was 60 [the oldest individual ever to participate.]”

Augustine said the three teams made up boat crews and each crew worked together as a team throughout the entire process.

“As women, we were not treated any differently,” said Augustine. “For each activity, it was our responsibility to see to it that each team member made it through. We aren’t supposed to reveal the exact challenges, but I can tell you activities involved lifting, running, swimming in 50-degree Lake Erie water and being woken up in the middle of the night for more physical challenges,” she said.

Augustine said participants were provided with ample water and food due to the need for a high caloric intake with the high amount of physical exertion. At one point, Augustine sprained her ankle, but said she elected to just kept going “because I knew our team depends on each other being there.”

“I would say by the second day, every muscle hurt, even muscles didn’t know I had,” she said.  “At some points, I was the strongest on my team and at other points, the weakest. We had one person in our group who couldn’t swim and it was our job to help get that person through that challenge. When I found myself in the 50-degree water covered in sand, my mindset was that I was okay and ready for the next drill.”

Mentally, Augustine said, the goal of all participants “was to be present in ourselves and we learn to expect the unexpected.”

“To keep myself going, I repeated in my head, ‘she can do all things through God who sustains her.’”

At the conclusion, we were given T-shirts which have the word ‘Graduate’ on the back and ‘SEAL’ on the front,” she said. “My commander told me I had tremendous strength and resistance and that he looked forward to seeing where I was going next.

I would say that going through all I have in my life, the SEAL training helped me remember who I was and where I am going,” said Augustine. “It was a very powerful experience, just fantastic.” ∞

Photo: Hinckley resident Melissa Augustine recently graduated from a simulated Navy SEAL two-day program offered through Authentica, an international leadership building firm. Photo by Chris Studor.