MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Virginia -- style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;">Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller named a Marine Corps Systems Command Marine the “Female Athlete of the Year” May 11.
During the Combined Awards Ceremony aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, the commandant presented Capt. Christine Taranto, a logistics analyst with MCSC’s Acquisition Logistics and Product Support, the Marine Corps 2015 Female Athlete of the Year Award. This was Taranto’s second time receiving the award— her first was in 2013.
“It is a great honor to be athlete of the year again, especially since it is part of a Marine’s job to be physically fit,” said Taranto. “Since my first nomination in 2013, I have met many talented athletes, both females and males, and knowing I was selected among such a pool of gifted athletes is quite humbling.”
The award is given annually by the Headquarters Marine Corps Semper Fit program, which promotes optimum health among Marines in the fleet. It recognizes the top female and male Marines from across the Corps who have excelled in intramural, varsity, All-Marine, national and international amateur sports competitions.
Taranto, a member of the All-Marine sports program for exceptional Marine athletes and the Marine Corps triathlon team, competed in five races last year. The first was the Armed Forces Triathlon Championship, in Hammond, Indiana, where she placed sixth and qualified for the All Military World Triathlon Team. That event was followed by the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., where she finished second overall with a time of 2:53:29, and the Women’s Armed Forces Marathon Championship where she secured a gold medal. Headquarters Marine Corps chose Taranto’s athletic accomplishments this year as the most impressive.
The Pittsburgh native has been an athlete as long as she can remember, competing both in swimming and running throughout her high school years. She won the Pennsylvania high school state championship cross-country title in 2002, and the indoor 3,000-meter run at the state meet that year.
After graduating from high school, Taranto took the advice of her father—a retired Navy chief petty officer—and attended the U.S. Naval Academy. The Academy was also where she realized she wanted to be a Marine.
“I was impressed by my Marine instructor’s character and confidence,” she said. “There was something special about Marines; something I realized I wanted to be a part of.”
While at the Naval Academy Taranto ran cross country and track for only a year before focusing her attention on her studies and exercising primarily for enjoyment.
“It was not until after I was commissioned into the Marine Corps and was later stationed at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, that I started competing again and realized I was doing it rather well,” she said.
Taranto was an operations officer and Headquarters and Service Company commander at New River. From there she went on to complete her Master’s in Business Administration at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, before coming to MCSC in April. She now works as a member of the command’s Research and Readiness Analysis Team, helping program managers identify efficiency initiatives in their programs.
She said her leadership has been very supportive of her training by allowing her to work races into her schedule.
“It takes a lot of discipline to train for triathlons and marathons,” she said. “When you start to perform at a certain level, it requires long hours to balance all three sports, but my supervisors have been very flexible with my training. There are many early morning and late-night training [sessions], but the process and hard work toward your goals are all part of the fun.”
Taranto believes her athletic training has not only helped her be successful in competing, but it has made her more disciplined and organized in doing her job.
“The discipline I’ve learned has made me a better Marine,” said Taranto. “I have learned time management skills and to continually put forth effort. Bringing the same passion for my sports to the workplace keeps me mentally focused and on my game with both.”