By Erich Langer, WTC Stratcom
When SGT Jontie Scott learned that she would be traveling to Oklahoma for the Army’s 2012 Warrior Games sitting volleyball team selection clinic, her first shout out was to her sister Caroline. The sisters are close but hadn’t seen each other in more than five years, so an opportunity to catch up would be great. Scott was injured in Iraq and spent time recovering in Texas, and most recently at the Warrior Transition Unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA.
“I contacted my sister to tell her I’d be coming to the clinic and thought we might have an opportunity to get together,” said Scott, who is currently assigned to the Western Regional Medical Command (WRMC). “I knew Caroline was living in Oklahoma but didn’t realize she was attending college at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO). We laugh about it now, but the Warrior Transition Command’s (WTC) sitting volleyball clinic is taking place on the same campus, right down the street from where she lives and goes to school. Sometimes it can be a pretty small world!”
WTC teamed up with UCO, USA Volleyball, and the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Paralympics program for the Oklahoma clinic. Coaches, managers, cadre, and support staff traveled to the university to help the Army athletes fine tune their sitting volleyball skills as they compete for 13 slots on the Army’s 2012 Warrior Games team. The Army Warrior Games team earned a silver medal in 2011, but is committed to earning gold in 2012.
“UCO is an official U.S. Olympic training site and has been an official U.S. Paralympics training site since 2005,” said Elliot Blake, U.S. sitting volleyball athlete recruitment coordinator. “This is the second year UCO and the Army teamed up for a sitting volleyball clinic on campus. The 41 Soldiers and Veterans attending this year’s clinic are very committed to our training regime, which can be pretty intense. From what I’ve seen this week, the athletes here will match up very well against the Marines.”
Scott hopes to be one of those 13 athletes named to the team and worked hard all week to improve her sitting volleyball skills, techniques, and team play.
“I like sports and have always been very competitive, and I think that helps me when I play the seated game,” said Scott. “I learned at Ft. Hood and played at Ft. Lewis for a while now, and think I’m getting better but the competition at the UCO clinic is very intense. Lots of good athletes here.”
Caroline briefly interrupted her sister stating that Jontie is also a very good athlete and competed in several sports including track and field while in high school. “Jontie is much too modest,” said Caroline. “She was an outstanding athlete before she joined the Army and scoots across the volleyball court like a pro. It’s awesome that the Army has an adaptive sports and reconditioning program for their wounded warriors and that clinics like this one are available. I’m just learning about Warrior Games and international competition opportunities these Soldiers and Veterans can set their sights on, and I think it really is great that adaptive sport opportunities exist for the Soldiers.”
Scott competed at the Valor Games in Chicago this past summer and now has a few additional sports under her belt. With that experience she may also compete for cycling and track and field slots on the 2012 Warrior Games team.
“The Valor Games were really fun. I competed in power lifting for the first time and won gold,” said an excited Scott. “I hope I can also earn a slot on the Army Warrior Games track and field and cycling teams. The shot put is new to me but I feel good about running the 100-meter dash and cycling.”
In addition to cheering on her sister, Caroline has another important duty at the clinic: watching and attending to the needs of Scott’s service dog, Ava. The German shepherd goes everywhere with her Soldier and helps her physically and mentally. Ava learned commands in German when trained as a police dog. She was retrained as a service dog and has been by Scott’s side since August.
“Ava is great. She really is my attendant and knows when I get frustrated or tense,” said Scott. “I’m prone to nightmares and knowing that she is there is very comforting. She even helps steady me when I start to lose my balance or need to get up off the floor. I got her free from an organization in Bellingham, Washington and I’m very grateful for them for teaming us up.”
If Scott punches her ticket for the 2012 Warrior Games, you can count on Caroline and Ava to be on the sidelines cheering her to victory.