By Sarah Greer, WTC Stratcom
The competition has begun! You can feel the excitement pulsing throughout the Olympic Training Center.
At last night’s sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball games, the crowd’s deafening roar gave the players a burst of energy, especially as the Army and Marines battled for the match point in sitting volleyball, where three Army teams played against each of the other services. As Army Platoon 3 took on the Marines, the dozens of Army teammates were quite a site in their black uniforms—crowding the court and chanting “Ar-my, Ar-my, Ar-my” in deep voices to drown out the Marines as the score see-sawed back and forth. 22-23, 25-24, 26-27…volleyball requires that teams win by two points. Though the Marines finally won 30-28, everyone in the gym knew that Army Platoon 3 left it all on the court.
Perhaps most inspiring is the spirit of cooperation among athletes. I attended the track and field practice yesterday morning, and there was something special about seeing athletes help their competitors with form and technique. Sailors showed Soldiers tips for pushing off the blocks in the sprinting events, and Soldiers returned the favor as Ultimate Champion candidates explained the benefits of a small hop in the shot put ring.
I also caught up with AW2 Soldier SFC Justin Widhalm as he chased his 2-year-old son around the volleyball arena after his game. SFC Widhalm is expecting 15 Family members to join him for the Warrior Games this week, from as far away as Nebraska.
“It means a lot to have them able to see me compete. Mostly because they, including my spouse, never thought I would play sports again,” said SFC Widhalm after his volleyball game against Air Force. “It was good to get the competitive juices flowing…being on a team with so many different injuries—amputations, TBIs, and others—helps you realize how much all the athletes have overcome.”
Shooting practice was another highlight of my day—I was surprised at how quiet it was in the indoor range. Several athletes showed me stacks of their targets. You could see straight through them! They’d hit the bull’s-eye on every single one.
Today’s competition will be even more exciting, with the full archery competition, swimming preliminaries, and another round of volleyball and basketball.
Stay tuned for more updates!