By COL. JEANETTE GRIFFIN
U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command
After two grueling archery and sitting volleyball assessment and selection clinics, more than 40 wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and veterans from across the U.S. and Europe are steps closer to reaching their goal of representing the U.S. Army during the 2013 Warrior Games.
As part of the Army’s Warrior Games selection process, the Warrior Transition Command hosted the Army’s final archery and sitting volleyball trials on Fort Belvoir, Va., Feb. 25-March 1.
“Overall, we have conducted more than 15 training and accession clinics to prepare our athletes for competition during the 2013 Warrior Games,” said Master Sgt. Jarrett Jongema, Adaptive Sports & Reconditioning Branch noncommissioned officer in charge, Warrior Transition Command. “Army athletes have received the best training possible from some of the top subject matter experts in their sports.”
During the 2013 Warrior Games, slated for May 11-17, in Colorado Springs, Colo., athletes will compete in sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, swimming, cycling, track and field, archery and competitive shooting with hopes of being awarded a gold, silver, or bronze medal.
The first archery and sitting volleyball multi-sport clinic was held in Fort Belvoir, Va., the last week of October and a second clinic took place December 2012 at Fort Carson, Colo.
“From the start, our athletes focused on shooting the best shots they possibly could regardless of their skill level. Some came in with the knowledge required, while others had to be taught,” said Kevin Stone, head coach of the U.S. Army archery team.
Since 2005, Stone has worked with the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Paralympic Military Program and used his skills and expertise to train wounded, ill and injured service members to use adaptive sports as a part of their rehabilitation. Today, two times Paralympian and Army veteran Kevin Stone is doing what he loves best as the head coach for the Army archery team.
“We ran the clinics as if they were training at an Olympic Center or before a National Championship tournament,” said Stone. We relaxed the troops with music during practice and while scoring. The experienced troops did not miss a beat and the inexperienced troops were given separate and individual instruction before re-joining the main body. This practical immersion worked and was apparent in the scores they provided.”
Similar to the athletes; Stone understands what it means to face a traumatic injury and diligently work towards recovery. As an NCO and member of the U.S. Army Light Infantry, Stone sustained injuries to his neck as a result of a vehicle rollover and was pronounced as an incomplete quadriplegic. Today, Stone uses a wheelchair and needs the aid of a cane to stand or walk short distances.
Stone credits therapists and doctors at the VA hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he received outpatient treatment to aid in his recovery.
“There was nothing ‘impossible’ at that hospital,” said Stone. “The only limitations you have are those you put on yourself.”
Stone has a record of success with focused training and competition in the sport of archery, winning his first bronze medal as part of the U.S. Paralympics’ historic team event at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens. At the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing he set two U.S. records in the initial qualification rounds using the recurve bow.
“I started my rehabilitation by using the adaptive sport of shooting and later crossed over to the sport of archery,” said Stone. “It has been an honor to have been able to serve as an athlete, it’s even more of an honor to serve our athletes as a coach and mentor.”