U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific

 

U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific

In Any Clime and Place

All-Marine Wounded Warriors Practice for Competition on the Court

By Cpl. Achilles Tsantarliotis | | May 02, 2010

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All-Marine Warrior Games Team Athletes and staff meet all-hands in at the beginning of a practice April 28, at the base gym. Sitting volleyball is one of the Warrior Games events and one of the only team sports in the competition. Sitting volleyball features five players per side and differs from volleyball by allowing players to block serves, maintaining ground contact at all times.

All-Marine Warrior Games Team Athletes and staff meet all-hands in at the beginning of a practice April 28, at the base gym. Sitting volleyball is one of the Warrior Games events and one of the only team sports in the competition. Sitting volleyball features five players per side and differs from volleyball by allowing players to block serves, maintaining ground contact at all times. (Photo by Cpl. Achilles Tsantarliotis)


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All-Marine Warrior Games Team Athletes practice sitting volleyball during the training camp, April 28, at the Base Gym. As one of the few team oriented sports in the upcoming Warrior Games May 10, athletes with varying challenges come together as one, overcoming them as a team to compete in the Warrior Games.

All-Marine Warrior Games Team Athletes practice sitting volleyball during the training camp, April 28, at the Base Gym. As one of the few team oriented sports in the upcoming Warrior Games May 10, athletes with varying challenges come together as one, overcoming them as a team to compete in the Warrior Games. (Photo by Cpl. Achilles Tsantarliotis)


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Cpl. Ray Hennagir, athlete with All-Marine Warrior Games Team, prepares to hit a volleyball during training camp practice, April 28 at the Base Gym. Sitting volleyball is one of the few Warrior Games heavily dependent on teamwork. Not only overcoming individual challenges but overcoming them as a team in order to win.

Cpl. Ray Hennagir, athlete with All-Marine Warrior Games Team, prepares to hit a volleyball during training camp practice, April 28 at the Base Gym. Sitting volleyball is one of the few Warrior Games heavily dependent on teamwork. Not only overcoming individual challenges but overcoming them as a team in order to win. (Photo by Cpl. Achilles Tsantarliotis)


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All-Marine Warrior Games Team Athlete Ray Hennagir (center) loses control of a ball during a sitting volleyball scrimmage, Apr. 28. All-Marine athletes practice in various events during the two-week Warrior Games training camp leading up to the inaugural Warrior Games May 10 - 14, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

All-Marine Warrior Games Team Athlete Ray Hennagir (center) loses control of a ball during a sitting volleyball scrimmage, Apr. 28. All-Marine athletes practice in various events during the two-week Warrior Games training camp leading up to the inaugural Warrior Games May 10 - 14, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. (Photo by Cpl. Achilles Tsantarliotis)


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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The All-Marine Warrior Games sitting volleyball team focused on playing as a one, continuing to learn each other's strengths, Apr. 28, at the post fitness center as they prepare for the inaugural Warrior Games, next week.

Sitting volleyball is one of the few sports in the Warrior Games largely dependent on teamwork and cohesiveness. The game is played with each team sitting on the ground, moving on the court with only their upper bodies.

All-Marine Warrior Games sitting volleyball coach U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Sam Tickle, said this event is unique because it's one of the only sports featuring athletes with a variety of disabilities working together.

Tickle, a 34-year-old from New London Pa., played volleyball for three years as a college student at the University of South Carolina and coached various leagues throughout his career in the U.S. Navy. He is currently assigned to Commander Strike Force Training, Pacific, at North Island, Calif.

"The key to sitting volleyball is speed," Tickle said "But it's something that takes a lot of learning."

Sitting volleyball in the Warrior Games features five players per side. Each player must maintain contact with the ground while blocking serves are some of the differences between sitting and conventional volleyball. While all the players are medically injured in one form or another, more than a quarter of the team are amputees.

Tickle said maintaining ground contact is one of the largest obstacles in sitting volleyball. Athletes who've retained their walking ability have it the hardest because the instinct to go for the ball, instead of setting up and then hitting the ball, he said.

Those difficulties really distinguish sitting volleyball as a team sport, Tickle said. Not only do they have to overcome their own physical barriers, but they have to overcome the teams to play as one and succeed.

Tickle said the Air Force sitting volleyball team might give the Marine team a challenge, he's not too worried about the other competitors getting in their way for winning gold medals.

"One advantage we really have going for us is we have a lot of big guys with huge arms," he said. "I have no doubt that we'll have a team together running offense and ready to win."

Corporal Ray Hennagir, a 21-year-old from Deptford N.J., and athlete with the All-Marine Warrior Games Team, said sitting volleyball was one of the few sports he immediately liked when he tried it. "It's a great outlet to come out here and get that competitive experience," he said. "I'm trying to get gold though, so I'm practicing to win here."

Hennagir lost both legs and four fingers after stepping on an improvised explosive device in Iraq during 2007.

Although winning is one of the end states, the training and camaraderie developed is a win in itself for these athletes, Tickle added. "This is an excellent tool in their recovery," he said. "It really has blown me away seeing these guys give it their all."

The volleyball team will be practicing throughout the week until their first competition beginning at 4 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, May 11, 2010 at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. For more information, follow the All-Marine Warrior Games Team on the 'Warrior Games' Facebook fan page.