AW2 Veteran Trains for Warrior Games Gold

AW2 Veteran retired SFC Marcia Morris-Roberts (center) warms up with other shot putters and athletes at the Army’s Warrior Games track and field clinic hosted by WTC at Fort Belvoir on February 9.

Dressed in black sweats on a chilly February morning, retired SFC Marcia Morris-Roberts warmed up with more than 40 other Army athletes on  Fort Belvoir’s Pullen Field. As a medically retired AW2 Veteran she is vying for a spot on the Army’s track and field team to compete at the 2012 Warrior Games.

The Warrior Games is an annual all-service athletic competition for wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers. The event will take place at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Morris-Roberts hopes to build off of last year’s silver medal win in the sitting shot put event.  “Warrior Games is a great outlet,” she remarked, “It keeps you motivated, and I think it’s been very instrumental in my recovery.”

Her journey to the Warrior Games began in 2010 when she lost her left leg below the knee as a result of frostbite.

It was during her recovery that she learned about the 2011 Warrior Games, and represented the Army last year in both swimming and field events. Her participation led her to seek out other adaptive reconditioning activities such as racquetball and rollerblading. Now she is back once more to challenge herself and other wounded, ill, and injured athletes.

After a round of practice shots, Morris-Roberts slid off the metal bleacher  as the next athlete to throw. Her long sweats and smooth movement made her injuries virtually invisible, but that is not the way she likes it.

“I don’t like wearing pants because I have a lot of cool patches on my [prosthetic] leg,” she said. “I’m happy and I’m proud of myself, I couldn’t get any better than I am right now.”

One of her goals is to not only compete for herself, but to provide inspiration and motivation to other wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers.  Her infectious smile and can-do attitude will certainly bolster her teammates through the hard work ahead of this year’s competition.

As Morris-Roberts continues her journey back to Colorado Springs seeking Warrior Games gold it is easy to see her enthusiasm for the future and those who have helped her on the way. “We had a great team of people that banded together like brothers and sisters,” she concluded, “I owe it all to them because they never let me quit.”

Sometimes You Have to Strip Off Your Uniform to Get Personal

By LTC Danny Dudek, WTC G-3 Operations

LTC Daniel Dudek, WTC G-3 Operations, applied to be on the 2012 Warrior Games Army swimming team. Dudek is one of more than 25 other wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and Veterans who participated in the swimming clinic to earn a spot on the Army's 2012 Warrior Games swimming team. Photo credit: SSG Emily Anderson

Today I get to ignore all the routine emails and work at the Warrior Transition Command (WTC) and do something I truly love.  I get to compete for a slot as one of 50 wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers on the U.S.  Army’s 2012 Warrior Games team.  I’m sure the competition is going to be tough, but I’ve been waiting two years to finally have the opportunity to get involved on a personal level.

This is going to be a great year for the Army and I’m sure we’ll show the Marines how dominant we can be. In addition to my role as one of these dominating Soldier athletes, I’ll also try to have some fun swimming and cycling for the WTC.   First I need to make the team, and this weekend will show if I have a shot  at one of those 50  slots.

As with many tasks in a Warrior Transition Unit (WTU), working with wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers can be a challenge. I always enjoy sharing my experiences with Soldiers who are hard-headed and struggle to participate in Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP) events. These events include having a daily job or task in addition to medical appointments, making a complete plan during a CTP scrimmage, and actively communicating in an honest and open way with their nurse case manager and squad leader.

I’ve seen these very same Soldiers turn around in a positive way after competing or participating in adaptive sports and reconditioning programs. It may be a kayak trip with a local adaptive sports organization, a winter sport camp with the great people at Disabled Sport USA, a cycling event with Ride to Recovery, or something as simple as participating in daily WTU adaptive reconditioning events.

For me, it is about remaining competitive. Though I’m either in a wheelchair or on crutches, all the barriers keeping me from getting out there and participating in sporting events are illusions, there are always ways to make it work. I can’t wait to get out there.

Stand by to hear if I make the team and get to represent the Army in the 2012 Warrior Games in April and May in Colorado Springs.

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