COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo (NNS) -- Members of Team Navy/Coast Guard have ascended upon Colorado Springs, Colo., where they are preparing to compete in the 2011 Warrior Games, May 16-21.
The second annual Warrior Games will take place at the Olympic Training Center and the U.S. Air Force Academy.
The team reported a week earlier than they did for last year's games, devoting valuable time to training, developing team cohesion, and acclimating to the high altitude. The team of 34 men and women share a desire to win and a deep determination to compete.
"This week of practice gives us an advantage over last year," said retired Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Dewalt, one of the participants in wheelchair basketball. "We have an opportunity to do some team building and spiritual bonding."
"The extra week of training increases the esprit de corps," shared Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Dayton, a member of the sitting volleyball team. "We feed off each other's energy, and coming out here a week earlier has us pumped-up and ready to show the world that we are ready to get back in the fight."
The team is utilizing training facilities located at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Fort Carson, and other local venues.
"It is paramount that the athletes adapt to the change in altitude," said retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Gerald "Wayne" Williams. "We got off the plane last year and the altitude took its toll on us. We have trained throughout the year for this event... but nothing compares to being here and putting in quality work."
"Prior to this week of practice, the group had only come together two other times," said retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer James Wilson, team co-captain and Navy Safe Harbor adaptive athletics program coordinator. "Their first meeting was in December for the Adaptive Athletics Training Camp. They met two-months later in February for the Training and Selection Camp. At the conclusion of the camp the members of Team Navy/Coast Guard were announced. Each member of the team departed and began his or her training regimen."
The warriors do not only train for themselves. They train, they say, to give hope to other service members that have been seriously wounded, ill, or injured.
"The Warrior Games is about hearing other people stories and it builds camaraderie," said Dewalt. "I get out of the bed in the morning and train hard in order to be an inspiration to others and my teammates."
"I come out to the Warrior Games to show people what they can do," said Dayton. "The Warrior Games is the culminating event to our adaptive activities. It is a great program, because it allows us to focus on our possibilities and not our disabilities."
The members of Team Navy/Coast Guard plan to excel in competition next week, but they agree that the Games are about much more than medal counts.
"It doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things if we bring home any hardware," said Wilson. "As long as we bring these young men and women home with purpose, drive, and renewed faith in themselves then we have fulfilled our purpose. It is all about recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration. We will not be left behind."
Because of this spirit the word "wounded" has been purposely excluded from the title of the competition.
"I like the concept, because we don't see our injuries," said Dayton. "We see our spirit. We have a winning spirit. We are not victims; we are victors."
The team is sponsored by Navy Safe Harbor, the Navy's lead organization for coordinating the non-medical care of wounded, ill, and injured Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, and their families. Through proactive leadership, Safe Harbor provides a lifetime of individually tailored assistance designed to optimize the success of enrollees' recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration activities.
For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp/.