ALEXANDRIA, VA -- Karen White, the chief of sports, fitness and aquatics for the Army’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation headquarters in Alexandria, VA, recently left her post for what she calls a “new challenge” in Fort Bragg, NC. White now serves as the base’s athletic director and oversees the complex’s more than 20 fitness and athletic facilities.
White’s move was her decision, she says, and she took the position to get back to the installation level where she could work with solders directly.
“At the headquarters level, you know you’re doing good things, but you can’t always see the direct benefit of what you’re doing,” she says. “People need to rotate out of that headquarters position and really see what’s going on. I loved what I did, the policy and overarching reach, but it was time for a change.”
With 11 fitness facilities, eight pools and countless outdoor athletic facilities, Fort Bragg is one of the Army’s largest bases when it comes to fitness and aquatics. White is looking to expand the complex’s programming, build some new facilities and expand Fort Bragg’s work with wounded warriors.
“I knew [the position at Fort Bragg] would be a strong enough challenge to keep me happy,” she says.
During her tenure as chief of sports, fitness and aquatics for the Army, White helped the Army standardize the design of all future fitness centers. The $19 million Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith Fitness Center in Fort Benning, GA, was the first fitness center built under the new guidelines, which were established by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Centers of Standardization. The 100,000-square-foot center was dedicated last summer.
As chief, White had also standardized purchases and all Army fitness job descriptions, brought fitness training directly to the bases (rather than at industry shows or Army meetings), helped supply deployed units with fitness kits that include a waterproof booklet of exercises and a resistance band, and outfitted numerous bases with automated external defibrillators and trained staff members at those bases on how to use the devices.
As of press time, White’s former position had not been permanently filled. Janet MacKinnon is currently serving as the interim chief of sports, fitness and aquatics at Army headquarters. MacKinnon was formerly the Army’s fitness and aquatics program manager at U.S. Army Installation Management Command.