The United States Sports Academy’s link with the Armed Forces and those who have served this country has stretched the entire length of the institution’s existence. So it is no wonder that while members of the Air Force began preparation for the upcoming U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Warrior Games 2015 that the Academy had a presence there.Doctoral Teaching Assistant Ms. Tonya Butler-Collins, a Gulf War veteran who served six years in the U.S. Army, was on hand last week as Team Eglin gathered at Eglin Air Force Base along the Florida Panhandle’s picturesque Gulf Coast for a weeklong adaptive sports and rehabilitation camp at the fitness center. Possessing a wide range physical education, fitness and rehabilitative expertise, Butler-Collins volunteered her time and helped in any way possible.
“I went down to observe and volunteer wherever I was needed,” said Butler-Collins. “I met the therapy team and jumped right in, doing stretching, massage therapy and trigger-point therapy. I was able to observe the track and field events as well as the wheel-chair basketball, archery and shooting events. I sat in on their sports psychology/motivation talk to prep them for their games in June.”
Set for June 19-28 at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., the DOD’s Warrior Games, often referred to as the Wounded Warrior Games, is an annual sporting competition that brings together the wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans from across the country. This is the first year the DOD will be holding the games as they were previously run by the U.S. Olympic Committee and held at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“I got to work with many of the athletes as well as talk to them about what they were doing with their sport as well as why, and how they got involved in the Wounded Warrior Games,” said Butler-Collins.
The camp she attended was created in 2011 as part of the Military Adaptive Sports Program (MASP) by the DOD to help recovery for wounded warriors by having them engage in adaptive sports and athletic reconditioning as they look to get back to their units or transition into civilian living. Since its inception, MASP has touched more than 158,000 wounded warriors at 325 camps or clinics.
In keeping with the assistance mode, Butler-Collins also has been holding instructional pool classes for Team River Runner, an organization geared toward helping wounded veterans, and will continue to do so through May 1. During them, she teaches basic skills, making necessary adaptations for the vets with more serious physical limitations and creating an environment in which bonds and friendships can develop.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission Sports University created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy visit www.ussa.edu.