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January 30, 2019 5:45 PM, EST

Four Women Among 18 Captains Named to 2019-20 America’s Road Team

Four women captains on America's Road Team for 2019-20 From left: Tina Peterson, FedEx Ground, Blaine, Minn.; April Coolidge, Walmart Transportation, Mint Hill, N.C.; Nicolette Weaver, FedEx Freight, New Bloomfield, Pa.; Theldorine “Dee” Sova, Prime Inc., Sacramento, Calif. (Jaclyn O'Laughlin)

ARLINGTON, Va. — Four women are among the 18 drivers chosen by American Trucking Associations as members of the 2019-20 America’s Road Team, representing the largest contingent of women ever selected to the team of industry ambassadors.

“The Masters has its green jacket ceremony. This is bigger and better than the Masters — we have our blue jacket ceremony,” said ATA Senior Advisor and Executive Vice President of Industry Affairs Elisabeth Barna as the captains received their trademark sport coats during an introduction ceremony Jan. 30.

The 18 captains were chosen from a pool of more than 2,000 drivers. They include a cattle rancher from Michigan and a tank-truck hauler, and range in experience from six years to 55. A multistep judging process took place over two days before the captains were chosen from among 33 finalists.

“These drivers represent the diverse experiences of the 3.5 million professional drivers across the country and will be able to bring their unique stories to new, critical audiences as part of America’s Road Team,” ATA President Chris Spear said.

The captains have 446 years of combined experience and almost 45 million accident-free miles, operating in 14 states and representing several categories of haulers.

The 2017-18 team consisted of 19 men and one woman. Captains are selected to two-year terms, and the four women chosen took varied paths to where they are today.

• Tina Peterson from Blaine, Minn., an over-the-road driver with FedEx Ground, knew that she wanted to drive since she was 7. Now a seasoned veteran, Peterson drives with her husband and 11-year-old dog from Minnesota to Dallas and back two to three times every week.

• Nikki Weaver of New Bloomfield, Pa., who has an 8-year-old daughter, is glad to have a route that affords her every night at home, but she did note her long days on the road.

“The days are long, 8 [a.m.] to 7:30, Monday through Friday,” she said. Weaver drives about 600 miles every day for FedEx Freight.

Friendships between coworkers and other drivers is important for the women to staying connected while on the road. “It’s like one big happy family,” Weaver said. “We are all in this together, so I don’t know if I ever experience loneliness.”

•April Coolidge of Mint Hill, N.C., a former real estate broker, drives for Walmart Transportation and has the least amount of experience of all the new captains. “When the real estate market went to heck in 2008, I had to reinvent myself,” Coolidge said.

“My dad was a driver and he made a very good living, so I thought, ‘Man, I wonder if I could drive a truck’?” She’s been on the road six years now and still loves the journey.

“I can’t find words to describe how it makes me feel, but I am proud to be a woman in this industry and to be as successful as I have been.”

• Dee Sova, who drives for Prime Inc. out of Sacramento, Calif., is the most seasoned of the female drivers.

“I came into trucking out of a need to support my four daughters; I was a 20-something-year-old mother who was going through a divorce,” Sova said. The cab of a truck seemed to suit her, and now she drives over-the-road with her husband.

Sova already has started to practice her new role as a captain, speaking in schools and taking opportunities to mentor other drivers. Being a Road Team captain is an extension of the role that already comes naturally to her.

“I would like to be able to help get young women into this industry,” she said.

Each woman recognized the importance of her role as representing not just trucking, but more specifically the role that women have in it.

“It is an amazing honor, and I look forward to doing my very best in representing us well,” Weaver said.

America’s Road Team was established in 1986. It strives to utilize professional drivers to share the industry’s message about the importance of trucking and highway safety.

2019-20 America's Road Team

Front row, from left: Todd Wilemon, ABF Freight, Fulton, Miss.; Douglas Frombaugh, FedEx Freight, Carlisle, Pa.; Billy Hambrick, Werner Enterprises, Yoder, Wyo.; Sammy Brewster, ABF Freight, Powder Springs, Ga.; Ronald Vandermark, UPS Freight, Delran, N.J.; Russ James, YRC Freight, Bonner, Mont.

Middle row: James Clark, Penske Logistics, Otter Lake, Mich.; William C. Bennett III, UPS Freight, Maytown, Pa.; Jorge Chavez, Jetco Delivery, Houston; Tina Peterson, FedEx Ground, Blaine, Minn.; Scott Davis, ABF Freight, Kearney, Mo.; Nicolette Weaver, FedEx Freight, New Bloomfield, Pa.

Back row: Timothy Chelette, Big G Express, Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Theldorine “Dee” Sova, Prime Inc., Sacramento, Calif.; Gary Martin, FedEx Ground, Galt, Calif.; William Goins, Old Dominion Freight Line, Cloverdale, Ind.; April Coolidge, Walmart Transportation, Mint Hill, N.C.; William McNamee, Carbon Express, Christopher, Ill. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

The 2019-2020 America’s Road Team captains:

  • William C. Bennett III, UPS Freight, Maytown, Pa.
  • Sammy Brewster, ABF Freight, Powder Springs, Ga.
  • Jorge Chavez, Jetco Delivery, Houston
  • Timothy Chelette, Big G Express, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
  • James Clark, Penske Logistics, Otter Lake, Mich.
  • April Coolidge, Walmart Transportation, Mint Hill, N.C.
  • Scott Davis, ABF Freight, Kearney, Mo.
  • Douglas Frombaugh, FedEx Freight, Carlisle, Pa.
  • William Goins, Old Dominion Freight Line, Cloverdale, Ind.
  • Billy Hambrick, Werner Enterprises, Yoder, Wyo.
  • Russell James, YRC Freight, Bonner, Mont.
  • Gary Martin, FedEx Ground, Galt, Calif.
  • William McNamee, Carbon Express, Christopher, Ill.
  • Tina Peterson, FedEx Ground, Blaine, Minn.
  • Theldorine “Dee” Sova, Prime Inc., Sacramento, Calif.
  • Ronald Vandermark, UPS Freight, Delran, N.J.
  • Nicolette Weaver, FedEx Freight, New Bloomfield, Pa.
  • Todd Wilemon, ABF Freight, Fulton, Miss.