Athletes vie for spot on Air Force Warrior Games team

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  • By Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young
  • Defense Media Activity
More than 25 wounded, ill and injured athletes participated in the 2011 Air Force Team training camp here Feb. 7 through 11.

In January, Air Force Services Agency officials invited 32 athletes to the training camp. Twenty-five athletes will be chosen to be part of the Air Force team in the 2011 Warrior Games, an Olympic-style competition open to wounded, ill and injured military members and veterans May 16 through 21 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Throughout the week, Air Force and volunteer coaches with U.S. Paralympics experience, trained new and returning athletes in archery, cycling, wheelchair basketball, shooting, swimming, track and field and sitting volleyball.

"This week, we are giving everyone the opportunity to try sports that maybe they haven't before to see where the talent is, and to see where the leadership is on the courts and out on the track," said Cami Stock, the Air Force team head coach.

While athleticism and ability are factors when choosing an athlete for the team, Coach Stock said there are two other components she is taking into account.

"We are also looking for a positive attitude and teamwork," she said. "We are the smallest team so everyone has to do multiple events and it's a really tiring, grueling time. So, being able to have the ability to mesh with the team, and bring the teammates up when they are down or tired is a huge part of this, and that's what we are looking for this week."

Retired Staff Sgt. Ricky M. Tackett, a member of the 2010 Air Force team, said he's excited to be back and is looking forward to teaching the new athletes lessons from last year's games, and get them excited about representing the Air Force.

"These games make me excited because it is about being athletic and doing your best, but I know a few of these people here are going to make the team and they aren't, per se, going to be the best person for that job, but their personal growth is more important," he said. "(These games are) helping and accelerating the healing process."

Retired Staff Sgt. Timothy Anderson, a newcomer to the training camp this year, is trying out for sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and track and field events.

It would be a tremendous accomplishment for me to make the team, but it would be more exciting for my 13-year-old twins, he said. It would be exciting for them to see that I've come a long way since my motorcycle accident and accomplished a lot of things.

Last year, each member of the Air Force team earned a medal. This year, Coach Stock said earning medals would be great, but it isn't her top priority for her athletes.

"First and foremost, I just want them to do their best," she said. "If I know they are doing their best then I'm going to be proud of them no matter what. Obviously, a medal for all of them would be icing on the cake and I would be ecstatic, but if that doesn't happen and they give it their best than I would be happy."

Once the athletes are chosen, coaches will compile training programs for them and connect them with Paralympics clubs in their area to train. The athletes will attend a second training camp a week before the 2011 Warrior Games at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

The Warrior Games are developed through the partnership between the U.S. Olympic Committee, Defense Department and sponsors.

For more information about the 2011 Warrior Games, visit