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Professional Spotlight: Sherry “Red” Sprague


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Professional Spotlight: Sherry “Red” Sprague

By Markeeta Martin, FLETC OPA

“Making a difference in others’ lives fuels my passion!” FLETC Law Enforcement Specialist (Driver Instructor) Sherry Sprague, Driver, and Marine Division explains that ever “since my dad was a police officer in New York, I was an individual who valued authority, discipline, and maintaining order and clearly found law enforcement appealing.”

Federal Law Enforcement Specialist (Driver Instructor) Sherry “Red” Sprague, Driver and Marine Division
Federal Law Enforcement Specialist (Driver Instructor) Sherry “Red” Sprague, Driver and Marine Division (Courtesy Photo)

 As a child, Sprague immersed herself in the games of cops and robbers, always taking on the cop role. Her father would come home telling stories about what he did, and some of his stories made an impression on her young mind. Sparking her interest, her desire and motivation to follow in her father’s footsteps led her to become a protector and hero, just like him.

 Sprague’s father served as a Lieutenant in the New York Police Department, dedicating much of his time to fitness and martial arts. At 16, Sprague’s Dad handed her the keys to a 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. “The streets of New York City became my training ground: yellow cabs, car horns everywhere, impatient pedestrians, and the occasional rogue pigeon,” Sprague said. “Parallel parking in Chinatown was overwhelming, but I mastered it, and now, as a driving instructor, I realize why fate nudged me toward this path.” Sprague, eager to be like her father, followed the same path of discipline and walked in the footsteps of her hero. “So, I landed in Northern Virginia when I began my law enforcement career in 1990,” Sprague states.  During 1990, positions were so competitive and fierce for the NYPD that it ultimately landed her in Northern Virginia, working for the Alexandria Police Department. Her 22-year career in the Northern Virginia Police Department has proven to be immensely rewarding to her job. “I commenced my journey by training officers as a field training officer in 1993,” Sprague said.  In 1995, she earned certifications as a general instructor, a driving instructor, and an expert in defensive tactics. Additionally, Sprague proudly earned the Cooper fitness certification and began training new recruits at the academy. While training recruits, Sprague and a team of coworkers initiate a wellness program within the police department they served. Her pursuit of knowledge didn’t stop there. She obtained several certifications, including ACE (American Council on Exercise), CrossFit, Olympic Weightlifting, and Powerlifting. Inspired by passion, she established a CrossFit Affiliate in Manassas, Virginia.

As a Law Enforcement Specialist Driver Instructor of the Driver & Marine Division (DMD), Sprague loves passing down the legacy of that vintage Oldsmobile. “When a nervous student grips the wheel, I reflect on my nerves driving the back alley in Chinatown with the chaos around me and Dad yelling in my ear,” Sprague said. What Sprague loves the most about her position as a Specialist Driver Instructor is that she is responsible for shaping the next generation of Law Enforcement Professionals. “I’m teaching new and former law enforcement officers to critically think through scenarios, solve problems, and make great decisions when driving police vehicles and encountering the general public,” Sprague explains. She is teaching these ladies and gentlemen how to keep their community safe. With pride, Sprague is sure to make an impression on her students by showing integrity, upholding standards, and being fair and honest, which is very important in a training environment such as this. “When I have the opportunity, and I’m leading a class, I tell them all to work on their MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT,” she stressed.  “I also hope to display professionalism and teach the importance of professionalism - conduct, appearance, and communication. I promote health and wellness, teach them how to practice communication skills, and understand the laws.” As a woman in a male-dominated field, she hopes to mentor and be a role model for women by leading by example.  “I’d like to help women recognize their strengths, abilities, what they can provide and help them believe in themselves,” Sprague said. Have them take risks, embrace challenges, and continue practicing their skills to trust their abilities. Confidence is a powerful tool for personal and professional growth.”

Sherry Sprague and Father. Her Hero
Sherry Sprague and Father. Her Hero. (Courtesy Photo)

In Sprague’s personal life, she devotes a substantial amount of her time to aiding and caring for the elderly members of her family and extended family. Sprague feels that her “passion lies in helping those who require it, sometimes to the point of overcommitment, as I’ve even taken in elders not related to me to guide them in assisting them into a better life. So, my life is not centered around myself; it’s about supporting others. That’s why I find caretaking and teaching to be incredibly empowering, as I’m not just imparting knowledge but creating a supportive and nurturing environment that fosters growth and well-being. You actively listen to your elders just like your students, and you create that safe space for them, which positively impacts their experience.”

“I’m hoping to go on a mission trip organized by my neighbor’s local church in the area,” Sprague continued, “just to extend my passion into the world to help those in dire need.” Sprague takes great pride in being consistently available for her family. Despite the challenges of demanding work schedules and time constraints, she has always tried to assist her family whenever they need her. Ideally, she hopes they also uphold these values in their own lives and relationships.

Sherry and her two brothers in Law Enforcement.
Sherry and her two brothers in Law Enforcement. (Courtesy Photo)

Some of “Red’s” hobbies she loves outside of work include photography, videography, motorcycle riding, fitness, and anything adventurous. She is very passionate about hiking, training for various fitness events, participating in fitness competitions, and conquering mini triathlons. At the very young age of 54, she recently completed in the CrossFit Open and even made the cut for the quarterfinals. Since the age of 12, “Red” has been a fitness geek, dedicated to pushing past her limits and inspiring others to do the same. She wholeheartedly challenges all of her recruits to strive for their healthiest, best selves.

“Being a role model is not about being perfect; it’s about empathy and lifting up others.  I’m hoping my passion and dedication will undoubtedly inspire those around me and ultimately save a life someday!”

Sherry “Red” Sprague