She Serves

Video: This Rugby-Playing Astronaut Is Out Of This World


As Anne McClain looked out the window of the International Space Station at planet earth, she couldn’t help but think back to her days in pre-school when she told her teacher what she wanted to be when she grew up.

In May of 2019, ​McClain tweeted​ to the world,

“Putting this journey into words will not be easy, but I will try. I am finally where I was born to be.”

McClain had accomplished her lifelong dream of going to outer space as an astronaut. The journey was almost as incredible as the pictures she sent back from orbit. The Spokane, Washington native graduated from West Point in 2002 with a degree in mechanical and aeronautical engineering.

“I realized that I was passionate about flying, but I wanted to fly helicopters and I wanted to be with soldiers and I wanted to be in the Army. That was my path.”

Yes, it was. McClain became an attack helicopter pilot and flew 216 combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She received numerous medals for her bravery and service, including the Bronze Star Medal and Air Medal for Valor. McClain has always used a laser-like focus and an unwavering belief in herself to accomplish great things.

McClain was also accomplished in the sport of rugby, playing for the U.S. Women’s national team. The mental and physical toughness required in the sport, as well as the teamwork and discipline, helped her on her journey to becoming an astronaut. McClain told Space.com,

“It absolutely was an influencer on my job and on my career and my personality. You don’t know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice, and that’s something you learn in the 78th minute of a rugby match.”

McClain is used to people watching her every move, whether it be on the ground in rugby, in the air as a fighter pilot, or in outer space as an astronaut. She also understands she’s a role model for other girls and women who want to be high achievers.

“There are no excuses anymore,” she said. “The doors are open for girls now. Not only are you expected to go sit at the table, you are expected to lead. The bar is very high and we need people who are problem solvers.”