Rehabilitation Through Adaptive Sports – Navy Warrior Trials More Than Just a Competition

Navy Wounded Warrior Trials came to an end Friday, March 22 at Naval Base Coronado, wrapping up 13 events in which 40 athletes will be selected to represent Team Navy at the Department of Defense Warrior Games hosted by Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fl. June 21 – 30.

Photo: San Diego MWR website.

Navy Warrior Trials is an all hands effort for Naval Base Coronado. Their MWR staff worked hard to ensure the facilities were able to support the adaptive sporting events. Some of the fitness team staff for MWR said that this has been an eye-opener for them, even though the facility is new and state of the art, they found areas that they could be better and more adaptive for athletes with disabilities. Aside from the staff on base that support this event, Naval Base Coronado also requested 200 volunteers to assist during the trials. Along with the Navy volunteers, the sponsors, Deloitte and the Semper Fi Fund also sent volunteers locally and from around the country.

At the conclusion of the track events, volunteers raced the athletes in a 4×100 relay. Coronado Unified School District partnered with Naval Base Coronado, allowing the use of the high school track for the Navy Warrior Trials track events.
The Wheel Chair Tennis athletes. Service dogs and volunteers gathered for a photo after the competition. Photo Courtesy of Rob Moore

Local resident and girl’s tennis coach Rob Moore was a volunteer during the Wheelchair Tennis events. A retired Naval Officer, Moore came across the volunteer table at the North Island Gym last week and signed up to help. He was impressed by their abilities and learned a lot during his time with the players and Warrior Head Tennis Coach Chance Field. Moore shared, “It was extremely rewarding to volunteer for the warrior trials, I hope I gave the athletes as much as I got out of the experience. It is nice to give back.” Coronado is a very active community with tennis being one of the more popular sports in the area.  Tennis is a sport you can play your entire life, no matter what age you are, and it is also an adaptive sport that can be played by athletes with limitations as demonstrated by the Wheelchair Tennis competition held on Naval Base Coronado earlier this week.

CORONADO, Calif. (March 18, 2019) Chief Machinist’s Mate Ferlin Espinal competes in a tennis match during the 2019 Navy tennis trials at Naval Air Station North Island, California, March 18, 2019. Navy Wounded Warrior-Safe Harbor and NAS North Island are hosting the Navy Trials. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Arthurgwain L. Marquez/Released)

“It is amazing to see our Navy and Coast Guardsmen demonstrate their resilience,” said Captain Slentz, Commanding Officer, Naval Base Coronado. “I think this is a great physical outlet as they rehabilitate after a serious illness or injury, and gives them a new sense of purpose and of being part of the Navy Team.” Slentz went on to say, “This also brings attention to the wounds that don’t leave visible scars like Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and provides an outlet for those service members as well.”

SAN DIEGO (March 20, 2019) Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Joe Paterniti, from Everett, Washington, lifts during the 2019 Navy power lifting trials at Naval Air Station North Island, California, March 20, 2019. Navy Wounded Warrior-Safe Harbor and NAS North Island are hosting the Navy Trials, in which athletes will qualify in adaptive sports: rowing, cycling, wheelchair basketball, golf, swimming, wheelchair rugby, powerlifting, shooting, archery, seated volleyball, track and field. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Lasheba. M. James/Released)

In talking with many of the athletes, a common theme is that these games bring together service members into a family of sorts that helps them through the healing process. Though this is a competition, they all support one another and cheer for each other. Former Navy Air Traffic Controller and local San Diego resident Esther Stevenson is recovering from a spinal injury and PTSD, and she shared that “Mental illness can be isolating, but these games makes us part of a team, in a community where you feel like you belong, I’ve learned and believe there is no such thing as a disability, only the ability to overcome your disability.”

CORONADO, Calif. (March 21, 2019) Naval Aircrewman (Operator) 1st Class Todd Prather, from Oak Harbor, Washington, loads an air rifle during the 2019 Navy shooting trials at Naval Air Station North Island, California, March 21, 2019.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam Brock/Released)

The DOD Warrior Games will bring together all the US military services as well as wounded warriors from 3 other nations. According to the DOD website “approximately 300 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans will participate in the competition. The athletes will represent the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Special Operations Command. Athletes from the U.K. Armed Forces, Australian Defence Force and Canadian Armed Forces will also compete. Teams include active-duty service members and veterans with upper-body, lower-body, and spinal cord injuries; traumatic brain injuries; visual impairment; serious illnesses; and post-traumatic stress.”

RelatedNaval Base Coronado Hosts Wounded Warrior Trials

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Jeannie is a recently retired Naval Officer whose first duty station brought her to Coronado in 1998.  A Navy Helicopter Pilot for 10 years and a Public Affairs Officer for 11 years, the Navy afforded her many incredible opportunities to serve her country in unique ways while seeing the world.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: