Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Lt. Nyrel Allen

Written by Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener

Lt. Nyrel Allen, Coast Guard 13th District flag aide and Coast Guard elite female athlete of the year, stands with her powerlifting medals and trophy at the 13th district headquarters in Seattle, Dec. 15, 2015. Allen placed first in three events in the Open division and set four Women’s Military Raw World records at the 2015 World and International Championship in Las Vegas. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross.

Lt. Nyrel Allen, Coast Guard 13th District flag aide and Coast Guard elite female athlete of the year, stands with her powerlifting medals and trophy at the 13th district headquarters in Seattle, Dec. 15, 2015. Allen placed first in three events in the Open division and set four Women’s Military Raw World records at the 2015 World and International Championship in Las Vegas. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross.

Service as a Coast Guard flag aide requires poise, attention to detail, expert knowledge of military customs and courtesies and time management skills that few possess. Lt. Nyrel Allen, flag aide to Rear Adm. Richard Gromlich, commander of the Coast Guard 13th District, has those skills and more, much more. Outside of the office, her determination and dedication to the sport of powerlifting resulted in her selection as the Coast Guard Elite Female Athlete of the Year.

Competing at the 2015 USA Powerlifting Military Nationals in Atlanta, Allen placed first in single bench press and single lift deadlift, placing first overall at the meet. After accepting an invitation to compete at the 2015 World and International Championship in Las Vegas, Allen placed first in three events in the Open division and set four Women’s Military Raw World records.

“Lt. Allen has done a phenomenal job in a short period of time with powerlifting, showing incredible commitment and perseverance while attaining goals that seemed well beyond her reach,” said Gromlich. “That same commitment and perseverance is displayed every day in her Coast Guard duties. At every competition she has done a terrific job showcasing the Coast Guard and ensuring people know she is an officer in our great organization.”

Allen’s athletic journey began years ago but not as a powerlifter. In high school, Allen played varsity volleyball and swam competitively. As a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy, her goal was to be a triathlete; then a mentor introduced her to rugby. She played all four years, while also running track for two seasons. It was during her years as a rugby player that she was first introduced to lifting as a way to strengthen her body to prevent injury.

Lt. Nyrel Allen, Coast Guard 13th District flag aide and Coast Guard elite female athlete of the year, sits with her powerlifting medals in the gym at the 13th district headquarters in Seattle, Dec. 15, 2015. Allen is also a Lead Facilitator for an anti-bullying workshop titled “Power up,” focused on helping young women from third to 12th grade understand the negative impacts of bullying. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross.

Lt. Nyrel Allen, Coast Guard 13th District flag aide and Coast Guard elite female athlete of the year, sits with her powerlifting medals in the gym at the 13th district headquarters in Seattle, Dec. 15, 2015. Allen is also a Lead Facilitator for an anti-bullying workshop titled “Power up,” focused on helping young women from third to 12th grade understand the negative impacts of bullying. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross.

Allen’s first assignment after graduating was aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Midgett, a 378-foot high-endurance cutter based in Seattle. Long patrols underway with limited options for running and cardio training and few opportunities to speak with her husband combined to create her love for the weight room.

“I started getting into interval training with dumbbells and kettlebells to work on strength training and cardio while my husband was halfway around the world in Afghanistan,” said Allen. “He got into the lifting habit and since neither of us could really discuss where we were and what we were doing, we talked about our workouts. He really inspired me to get into it and work at it. I got really strong; after my last patrol I was deadlifting 220 lbs.”

Not only has Allen achieved success in the weight room; she works hard in her community to help young women stand up for themselves. She works with the Girl Scouts of Western Washington and is also a Lead Facilitator for an anti-bullying workshop titled “Power up,” focused on helping young women from third to twelfth grade understand the negative impacts of bullying. She has facilitated three separate trainings, cumulatively coaching over 60 girls on how to remove themselves from bullying situations.

“Lt. Allen is a tremendous role model,” said Gromlich. “I’ve been very impressed with her passion for helping young women combat bullying and working closely with other junior officers in the areas of leadership and professional development. She has a very bright future in the Coast Guard. As she has proven with her athletic success, the sky is the limit.” When Allen leaves the Pacific Northwest and continues in her career, everyone around her of any gender and at any grade can learn from her in the office, gym or community.

“On a day to day basis, I don’t feel like a minority in the Coast Guard,” said Allen. “Really rare is the day when I’m the only woman in the room or in the gym. I think I’m just walking a path that has been-to some extent-walked before, which I like because one day it won’t be the path less traveled by. One day it will be the path lots of women travel by.”

Do you know someone who embodies the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty? Please submit your nominations using the “Submit Ideas” link on the right.

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