2011 Warrior Games shows spirit to Colorado Springs civic leaders

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Richard Williamson
  • Air Force Space Command Public Affairs
Training for the 2011 Warrior Games has kicked off here with Air Force team members demonstrating their winning spirit in a warrior-civic leader volleyball match, with a catch.  The game is played less than four feet off the floor while sitting on a basketball court with a lowered net as team members vie for the ball.

"The importance of the different sports for disabled vets is to help adapt skills," said retired Staff Sergeant Matt Sanders, the Air Force wheelchair basketball team captain.

As part of training-and-altitude-acclimatization week in the Colorado Springs area, teams from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps integrated civic leaders into their volleyball teams during an orientation about the games to be played when competition begins.

The warrior-civilian game provided an opportunity for local leaders to experience firsthand both the challenges of playing the game and the camaraderie and team spirit that warriors share with their teammates and competitors.

Officials from the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Defense Department jointly manage the event held May 16 through May 21 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center with cycling events to be held at the nearby Air Force Academy.

The Air Force is fielding a team of 23 active duty and retired wounded warriors who began their location training May 9. The teams are training to compete in swimming, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, archery, shooting, cycling, and track and field events.

"The civic leaders learned a different perspective by doing this," Sergeant Sanders said. "Sitting volleyball is a whole different game. You can't do the same things sitting down." 

The civic leaders tried to do the same things from a sitting position that people do while playing volleyball on their feet. There are different techniques and strategies that have to be used in a sitting volleyball game to play successfully, he explained.

The sitting volleyball games require strategy, skill and constant verbal team coordination to keep the ball in play and win points, according to Sergeant Sanders.

During the practice game, both Air Force and Army team members and the Army volleyball coach helped the civic leaders adapt to the "new" form of volleyball.

"It was an interesting experience playing side by side with the civic leaders," said Air Force ROTC Cadet Matt Pirrello. "We had a good time teaching them the game."

Retired Staff Sergeant Tim Anderson, a competitor in the games, gave credit to the civic leaders for their efforts.

"It was great to see them come out and try (the game)," he said. "Most of the civic leaders did well. All that matters Is that they tried."

Although the exhibition game was for fun, the upcoming competition will be intense according to various team members.

Venues at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center, formerly Ent Air Force Base, are free and open to the public. Additional information about the 2011 Warrior Games and the events schedule is available on the USOC Paralympics website.