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    Southall striving for gold repeat at DoD Warrior Games



    Story by Shannon Collins    

    Joint Hometown News Service

    FORT MEADE, Md. – Monica Southall continued her gold-medal winning streak when she earned first place in both standing shot put and discus at the Army Trials for the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games scheduled for June 19-28.

    Throughout the games, wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans from the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard will compete in track and field, shooting, swimming, cycling, archery, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball at Quantico Marine Corps Base, Va.

    Medically retired as an Army sergeant, Southall served 12 years in the Army National Guard as an automated logistics specialist. She earned her first gold medal at the Warrior Games in seated shot put in 2010. In 2012, she won gold in standing shot put, and her team won gold in sitting volleyball.

    In 2013, Southall won gold in standing shot put and discus and her team took silver in sitting volleyball. In 2014, she took gold in standing shot put and discus and her team took the bronze medal in sitting volleyball.

    At the Army Trials, at Fort Bliss, Texas, March 29 - April 2, her sitting volleyball team also finished third.

    Growing up in Suffolk, Va., Southall has always been an athlete.

    “I was a big athlete in high school,” she said. “I did basketball, volleyball and track and field. In college, I did basketball, volleyball, track and field and softball. And then I played three years of recreational sports at Walter Reed Army Medical Center such as basketball, volleyball and softball.”

    During a deployment to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009, Southall was conducting inventory on top of a mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle, or MRAP, near Forward Operating Base Shank, when ordnance from an air strike landed too close.

    She injured her knees, shoulders and spinal cord and has post-traumatic stress. She has undergone 14 surgeries with two more pending. She said adaptive sports and events like the DoD Warrior Games help her with her recovery process.

    “I found out about the Warrior Games in 2010 at the last minute,” she said. “Somebody came to me and said, ‘I heard you were an athlete at one time? I think this might interest you.’ I was only sitting in my room; I didn’t want to be bothered. I could barely walk because of my injuries and having problems with noise. I was very anxious when I first came home from Afghanistan. Warrior Games helped me be that athlete and to be competitive all over again. It helps me find that new normal.”

    She said she deals with physical pain on a daily basis but she doesn’t let it get her down.

    “Sometimes it’s really hard to even get out of bed, that first step, but you have to keep going and you have to keep living,” she said.

    Mentally, she said training for the games keeps her active and focused.

    “When you know you’re going to try to compete again, it makes you want to get out of bed,” Southall said. “It makes you want to train and go practice because you want to be at your highest level. I’m getting out and doing more, all because I want to perform at my highest level when it comes to Warrior Games. It keeps me focused, wanting to do more, and it keeps me motivated.”

    Southall said adaptive sports keep her from becoming a couch potato and give her a reason to work out.

    “I’m at home and not working right now, so adaptive sports have been a big part of my life for the last couple of years,” she said with a smile. “They’ve really helped me to become like myself. I’m not completely there but I’m almost the way I was prior to becoming injured.”

    She encourages others who may be considering adaptive sports to give it a shot.

    “I encourage anyone that I see that if you haven’t tried it, give it a try,” she said. See what it can do for you. This is something you can do. It may be fun; it may be your new normal. Maybe you never thought about archery but now you see it at the Warrior Games, and you’re considering it. You have to keep living; you have to keep going. If this is your outlet, give it a try. Maybe it will help you the same way it’s helped me.”

    She also encourages people to try out for the regional Army trials next year and for other events such as the Veterans Affairs’ Valor Games.

    “It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice, if you’re a semi-pro or a professional. Don’t be intimidated because at the end of the day, this is about having fun, and this is about reaching whatever goals you are trying to accomplish,” Southall said. “Whatever goal you have set, if it was just to come out here and say shot put, if you threw it two feet and last year only threw it one foot, you have accomplished your goal, and you should be proud of it.”

    She said her fellow athletes at the Warrior Games inspire her.

    “We have amputees here. We have people who may have limited function but they’re here, and they’re competing,” Southall said.

    She encourages others to compete as well.

    “No matter what your limitation, no matter what’s going against you, you can still do things. You can still be competitive, and you can still keep going. This is just breathtaking sometimes,” she said passionately. “People should be very proud to see exactly what people can do regardless of their limitations or disabilities.”


    Date Taken: 06.02.2015
    Date Posted: 06.02.2015 11:50
    Story ID: 165201

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