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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.”