News: Langley Airman competes at Armed Forces Volleyball Championship
Story by Airman 1st Class Areca T. Bell
JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- Nine female U.S. Air Force Airmen contended for the opportunity to represent their branch of service at the Armed Forces Volleyball Championship, May 23 to 28 in Phoenix.
One of the Airmen afforded that chance was U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shermika Harris, 633rd Security Forces Squadron patrolman.
After selective tryouts, Harris joined her new teammates at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Each day for three weeks, Harris trained with Airmen from nine other bases in preparation for the championship game.
"I was relieved [when I was selected to join the team]," said the Martinsville, Virginia, native. "The first week was a challenge because I had to relearn everything I was taught previously by my other coaches. I thought I was going to get cut."
Harris started playing volleyball in high school after making a pact with her friend to create their own "buddy system" when trying out for team sports.
"It was an agreement between my friend and me; if she played volleyball with me, I would play soccer with her," said Harris. "We weren't going to do it alone so [we supported each other]. It was pretty cool."
In addition to playing in high school, Harris also played in Division three during her college years at Ferrum College, Virginia, where she shattered records and, at one point, earned the award of most valuable player.
Though Harris played volleyball throughout college, she admitted she was unaware the Air Force had a team.
"I honestly didn't know until I heard someone mention it during intramural volleyball a few years ago," she said. "I thought it was one of those National Collegiate Athletic Association eligibility-required type things where if you utilized all of your eligibility in college you couldn't play, but I looked into it more and decided to apply."
This year, Armed Forces Sports teamed up with USA Volleyball to conduct the Armed Forces Volleyball Championship in conjunction with the USA Volleyball Nationals. The service teams faced each other within the same pool during the first round to determine the Armed Forces champion.
After defeating the U.S. Navy team, with a score of 2-0 (25-15, 25-12), the U.S. Air Force Women's Volleyball Team went on to place second to the U.S. Army in the championship.
Harris said she is proud to have earned her spot on the team and enjoyed meeting other Airmen with a common interest.
"It was fun being on the team," she said. "We learned a lot from our coaches. I think we did well considering we all came from different areas and trained for three weeks not knowing anything about each other."
Harris encourages fellow service members who may be interested in taking a similar leap, to try out as her time on the team was memorable.
"It was definitely a great experience. I would recommend anyone to try out for any of the Armed Forces teams," Harris said. "It's a great opportunity to do something you enjoy doing. You don't know you can do it unless you try."
For more information about trying out for an Armed Forces team, visit https://www.reachtheairforce.com/AFSports.aspx.