News: No “Average Joe’s” at JBLM’s dodgeball tournament
Story by Sgt. Jacqueline Fennell
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Instead of kicking up their boots in their barracks, JBLM soldiers put on their game faces and stylish team attire. They formed 13 teams who displayed their team unity as they raced to capture balls from the line while dodging incoming balls at Soldier’s Field House, May 31.
There were no underdogs or average Joe’s competing inside the field house, only extreme aggressors with focus and intense determination.
Families and friends screamed from the bleachers cheering on their teams showing their support.
Even more exciting, was the show of heart by those who played hard while having fun after a long day at work.
“We train and work hard every day and sometimes get mad at each other, but that’s what work is, so it’s good to come out and play some dodgeball to have a good time,” said Sgt. Adrian Martinez, an infantryman assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion. “We threw on a team uniform and added a little style to it to make it our own,” he explained.
Some might say it was like a war. The process of elimination did not come easy for the players.
Simultaneously, soldiers threw balls and dodged them, striking each other in the faces at moments, creating fierce reactions from their opponents.
“The rate of the ball was coming with such high intensity, so with flying balls everywhere, you’ve got to be vigilante, attentive and can’t be complacent,” expressed Staff Sgt. Angelo Baxter, assigned to the 22nd Human Resources Command about physical agility and mental toughness on the court.
Soldiers weren’t the only spectators enjoying all the action and camaraderie.
The 593rd Special Troops Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Douglas Levien, who came out to support his four companies who battled on the court, said his soldiers like the competition, get good physical training and is a good team building technique for deployments.
“We don’t get to do a lot of this during physical training so soldiers get to have fun through competition which helps them relieve stress,” added Levien.
Ebony Austin, the program manager for intramural activities at Soldier’s Field House, had something different in mind besides the usual competition between soldiers.
Austin said traditional sports usually entail too much competition, and when she first organized the dodgeball games in March, she said, “I wanted to bring back good old-fashioned fun.”
According to soldiers who participated, it was more than just fun.
Martinez and his team agreed that not only did they enjoy themselves, but added it was a chance for them to bond and let themselves go after working hard all day.
If they weren’t there competing in the tournament, he said, “We would just probably be hanging out in our rooms and not really doing much.”
As the competition wrapped up, it didn’t seem to matter who won at the end of the tournament because all teams demonstrated their love for the game itself.
Team “Seabass” from 1st Platoon, B Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion placed first in the competition, team “Balls of Fury” placed second, and “The Crusaders” took third place.
Soldiers who participated walked off the court with the satisfaction of ending a long day’s work with some old-school fun.
“I hope to have more events like these that I can create because it’s important to be here for the soldiers and their families through this rough time of many deployments,” said Austin. “If I can provide any entertainment for them, then this is what I want to do.”