By Zona T. Lewis,
Public Affairs Navy Safe Harbor
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) announced Sept. 20 at a Pentagon press briefing that the 2011 Warrior Games, a competition that elevates abilities through athletic competition for wounded, ill and injured service members, would return to
Colorado Springs, Colo.
"The athletes who compete in the Warrior Games demonstrate that regardless of circumstance, physical fitness and a passion to win remain at the core of our military culture," said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the JCS. "And while these values are certainly important on the battlefield, they're also important to the recovery process of our wounded, ill and injured troops. Because when we focus on abilities rather than disabilities, we see that physical fitness and sports can have a healing effect on the mind, on the body and on the soul."
The Warrior Games is a joint endeavor between the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Department of Defense, uniting the efforts of all the services in using sport as part of the healing process. Two hundred wounded, ill and injured athletes from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard will compete in a variety of events, including archery, shooting, swimming, track and field, cycling, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball, May 16-21, 2011.
"The inaugural Warrior Games changed lives," said Capt. Key Watkins, program director of
. "That is the incredible power of sport. Navy Safe Harbor wants to ensure that all of our Wounded Warrior shipmates have the opportunity to participate in adaptive sports and to be confident in their abilities as they progress through competition or pick-up games with their friends and family." Navy Safe Harbor
This year the Navy and Coast Guard team will consist of 35 athletes, up 10 from last year. Eligibility is open to all seriously wounded, ill and injured service members. Participants will be grouped into categories of physical disabilities including: amputations, blind/visually impaired, spinal cord injuries, post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury (this category also includes cerebral palsy and stroke).
Eligibility is not limited to just combat Wounded Warriors; any seriously ill or injured Sailor or Coast Guardsman is eligible to apply.
Also new this year, Navy Safe Harbor, in partnership with installation Morale, Welfare and Recreation sport and fitness facilities, will be hosting three training and tryout camps for potential athletes, plus a team training camp the week prior to the Warrior Games.
"It is particularly important in team sports for athletes to have met and trained together before the first time they compete as a team," said Watkins. "We were not able to offer training camps last year, but will be doing so this year which will improve everyone's personal performance as well as develop teamwork."
Wounded Warrior and returning athlete Culinary Specialist Seaman Judi Boyce was excited to learn about the opportunity for additional training prior to the Warrior Games.
"I am ultra-excited because this year I am hoping to have all the equipment and training opportunities I need," said Boyce.
Boyce is also hoping she won't be the only woman to make it past the preliminary completion. Her goal is to win a medal in archery.
In 2010, the Navy and Coast Guard athletes earned 13 medals, and Navy athlete Chief Special Boat Operator Daniel Hathorn earned the prestigious title of "Ultimate Warrior."
"We have championship caliber Wounded Warrior athletes," said Watkins. "We look forward to building a champion team."