51st IS Airman named 363d ISR Wing’s 2023 Female Athlete of the Year

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. AJ Hyatt
  • 363d Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing
Merriam-Webster describes “athlete” as a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.
The 363d Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing recently announced their Department of the Air Force Female Athlete of the Year for 2023 and the winner hails from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.
Senior Airman Joelle Fialkowski, signals intelligence analyst from the 51st Intelligence Squadron, was named the Wing’s Female Athlete of the Year, due to her performance and accomplishments playing volleyball this past year.
“I am extremely grateful [on receiving this award],” said Fialkowski. “When I joined the military, I didn’t realize that participating in sports would be so widely available and I knew I would miss playing volleyball. Finding out that this was something that I could still participate on a competitive level was so exciting to me.”
Fialkowski, who has played volleyball for eight years between high school, a traveling team in Buffalo, New York, and the military, was selected to play with the Shaw AFB Women’s Viper Volleyball team in March 2023.
From then on, Fialkowski dedicated more than 200 hours to training and competing, resulting in 21 wins over 30 games in the next three months.
“Senior Airman Fialkowski is a fantastic Airman and representative of the Warhawk readiness culture,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Corey Fraas, 51 IS commander. “She played a vital role in leading the Shaw AFB Volleyball team to victory at the 2023 CONUS Women’s Volleyball Championship held at Dover AFB, Delaware in June, showcasing Air Force excellence and tenacity.”

Fialkowski claims that winning the 2023 CONUS Women’s Volleyball championship was one of her biggest sporting accomplishments and the being a part of that championship team was the highlight of her year.
“I have been able to bring several years of practices and experience [to the Women’s Viper Volleyball team], which has helped me grow in the player and teammate I am today,” she said. “To my unit, I bring a goal-driven dedication and passion to become an expert on the tasks at hand, which has formed me into a well-rounded Airman and leader in the 51st IS.”
When Fialkowski is not engaged in volleyball, she enjoys hiking and traveling. During her last deployment to Al Udeid Air Base, she was able to join the 500 lb. club (performing one repetition of a squat, bench press and dead lift – with the total weight equaling 500 lbs.) as weightlifting is also a passion of hers.
“Senior Airman Fialkowski embodies the warrior ethos,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ecatarina Garcia, 51 IS senior enlisted leader. “She is not only dedicated to fitness excellence, but inspired others by hosting a successful weightlifting fundraiser for two units, where she raised contributions for the Shaw AFB Base Exchange Angel Tree and the Toys for Tots initiatives.”
Fialkowski takes care of herself mentally and physically by keeping a five- to six-day routine in the gym each week.
“I am constantly inspired by the leaders that I have here in the 51st,” she said. “They have shown me that it is possible to balance mission needs with personal needs so I can best take care of myself and in turn be an efficient part of our team.”