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Warrior Games: Marine athletes scrimmage Colorado community leaders

By Aquita Brown | | May 11, 2011

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Colorado community leaders and a combination of Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard athletes faced-off in a seated volleyball scrimmage at the Olympic Training Center here, with four members of the All-Marine Warrior Games team.  The event allowed Sgt. Jese Schag and veteran Marines Richard Bacchus, Travis Greene and Bradley Walker to practice and showcase their skills for the upcoming Games.  The second annual Warrior Games will be held at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. May 16-21.

“The athletes competing in the Warrior Games are not defined by the word disability or wounded,” said Maj. Susan Stark, Wounded Warrior Regiment Warrior Athlete Reconditioning program director.  “They are defined by the challenges that they have overcome and the motivation that they have shown throughout their recovery.” 

The match served as a venue to showcase how athletics play a major role in a wounded, ill and injured service member’s recovery.  It was also an opportunity to get the community roused about the upcoming Warrior Games.

“This event is a great chance to compete and gain overall experience,” said Richard Bacchus, a veteran Marine athlete.  “It is events like this that will prepare [the Marines] for this year’s games.”

The Colorado community did not realize how demanding a game of sitting volleyball could be on their bodies.  Despite a few difficulties, they hung in and made some good plays against the competing service members.  “Just because the athletes are seated does not necessarily indicate that the game was going to be an easy undertaking,” said Stark.   

According to the U.S. Paralympic Committee, with a few modifications to accommodate various disabilities, the Warrior Games seated volleyball competition and Olympic style standing volleyball follow similar rules.  However, during seated volleyball players must keep one “cheek” on the floor whenever they make contact with the ball.  This was one of the rules that made the game quite difficult for its new challengers.

Regardless of having new players to the game, the Marine athletes did not hold back.  “[The All-Marine Warrior Games team] has improved a lot.  We have come a great distance since last year… and we always practice intensely,” said Bacchus. 

The 2011 Warrior Games seated volleyball competition is open to male and female service members.  Categories include upper body impairment, lower body impairment, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder.

According to U.S. Paralympic Committee, the Warrior Games are designed to elevate abilities through athletic competition for wounded, ill and injured service members by providing a focal event to empower the incorporation of athletics into Military Service Wounded Warrior Programs.  The Warrior Games will be an annual event to celebrate the achievement and abilities of wounded, ill and injured service members, while building camaraderie and raising awareness for adaptive sports.

This year, athletes will compete in a seven-sport competition during a five day duration.   The sports include archery, shooting, swimming, wheelchair basketball, volleyball, cycling, and track and field.

“I have seen how our service member’s lives have changed after their injuries and I have also seen how their lives are improved by sports,” said Heidi Grimm Powell USOC Associate Director of the Paralympic Military Program.  Through the Warrior Games sports will continue to serve as a tool to build all service members’ confidence and strength.

Established in 2007, the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment was created to provide and facilitate non-medical care to combat and non-combat wounded, ill, and injured Marines, and sailors attached to or in direct support of Marine units and their family members in order to assist them as they return to duty or transition to civilian life. The Regimental Headquarters element, located in Quantico, Va., commands the operations of two Wounded Warrior Battalions located at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Camp Lejeune, N.C., and multiple detachments in locations around the globe. 

For more information about the Wounded Warrior Regiment or the 2011 Warrior Games, go to: www.woundedwarriorregiment.org or call the Sgt. Merlin German Wounded Warrior Call Center 24/7 at (877) 487-6299.

Marines and Marine veterans who are interested in participating in next year’s Warrior Games should contact the WAR program staff at WWSports@usmc.mil.


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