By, Cait McCarrie WTC Stratcom
The 2013 Warrior Games athletes haven’t wasted any time getting into the warrior mindset. Back to back practice schedules, weight training and team bonding activities showcase but the athletes’ hard work and dedication. The Warrior Games give the world an opportunity to see how adaptive sports and reconditioning play a role in Soldier recovery and transition. They also showcase the importance of integrating physical activity into wounded, ill, or injured Soldier’s recovery and transition process. The Warrior Games is just one example of how competitive sports facilitate the recovery process. One athlete who knows this all too well is Veteran Charles Allen of the Army wheelchair basketball team.
Two-time Warrior Games medal winner, Allen, will compete in field and wheelchair basketball at this year’s competition. In 2012, Allen took home the gold in wheelchair basketball and silver in sitting discus. Allen is ready to bring home the gold again this year, and brings his all to team practice. Allen like the other athletes understands that training is a year-long endeavor, and as a player for the Movin’ Mavs wheelchair basketball team, he practices what he preaches.
Allen was injured during a training exercise at Fort Hood, Texas and as a result was paralyzed from the waist down. Having been an athlete growing up, Allen saw an opportunity to get involved in a new sport. Allen was inspired by other wounded Soldiers and Veterans who were using adaptive sports in their recovery. They sparked his interest in wheelchair basketball. The wheelchair basketball players at the VA in Dallas inspired him to get on the court and give the sport a shot. Ever since, Allen has been a devoted player. It’s been nearly ten years since Allen started playing wheelchair basketball, and even though he wasn’t a basketball player before his injury, he’s a natural on the court and enjoys the comradery and support he gets from his teammates.
Team sports like wheelchair basketball offer a unique opportunity to integrate not only physical activity into one’s recovery but a chance to utilize communication and personal skills that Soldiers and Veterans learn while in the military. When asked what he enjoys most about playing wheelchair basketball Allen credits his teammates, “I like the team aspect of the sport and the strenuous activity that it puts us through.”
Allen will be competing in field on May 14th from 0800-1600 MDT (1000-1800 EDT) at the United States Air Force Academy and wheelchair basketball throughout the week. Watch the wheelchair basketball finals live on ESPN on Wednesday, May 15th.