News>Langley hosts Special Olympics basketball tournament
U.S. Air Force Airmen 1st Class Jeffrey Ganuza and Earl Norton, both from the 30th Intelligence Squadron, time and record the dribbling skills of Warren Watkins during a Special Olympics basketball event at Langley Air Force Base, Va., Feb. 11, 2012. The Special Olympics of Virginia is part of a global movement that serves more than 3.7 million athletes in more than 170 counties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Racheal Watson/Released)
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Aisha Mitchell, 633rd Dental Squadron, cheers for Peter Menard during a Special Olympics basketball event at Langley Air Force Base, Va., Feb. 11, 2012. Special skill basketball events included the target pass, 10-meter dribble and spot shot. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Racheal Watson/Released)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel Smith, 30th Intelligence Squadron, hands a ball to Katie Kelso during a Special Olympics basketball game at Langley Air Force Base, Va., Feb. 11, 2012. Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Racheal Watson/Released)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Arsenio Jones, 633rd Medical Operations Squadron, referees a Special Olympics basketball game at Langley Air Force Base, Va., Feb. 11, 2012. The basketball teams were grouped into competition divisions according to the athletes' and team's ability level. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Racheal Watson/Released)
by Senior Airman Jason J. Brown
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
2/13/2012 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- More than 250 athletes brought their hoop dreams to Langley Air Force Base Feb. 11 during the Special Olympics Virginia Area 22 Basketball Tournament.
Approximately 80 volunteers from Langley stepped up to assist during the tournament, working as referees, registration assistants and event organizers. The Air Combat Command Fitness Center hosted full-court games, while the Shellbank Fitness Center fielded half-court games and skills contests. At each location, bleachers were packed with cheering.
According to Doug Faber, the Langley AFB Special Olympics event coordinator, the event at Langley was part of SOVA's regional basketball tournament, which will culminate in qualifying athletes for state-level tournaments.
The tournament is the latest in a long-standing partnership between SOVA and Joint Base Langley-Eustis, and marked the first time Langley hosted the basketball competition. Langley also hosts Special Olympics soccer, volleyball and bowling tournaments each October, while Fort Eustis hosts swimming, and track and field contests each year.
"Hosting this event demonstrates how supportive we are of our area, extending well beyond members of the military," said Faber.
Senior Airman Ron Overton, a 1st Operations Support Squadron intelligence analyst, said he volunteered to "experience a different mission," by helping the athletes pursue their dreams.
"It was a learning experience for me," Overton said. "The games were a great demonstration of dedication, and it inspired me to be better at what I do. The athletes were fun to be around, and I'm proud to have been able to help them accomplish something great."
Faber, who serves as the Langley AFB Fire Department assistant chief of training, said experiencing the happiness of the participants was the most rewarding element of the tournament.
"I love seeing the athletes having fun, and how thankful they are for us," Faber said. "They put forth so much dedication, just as the Special Olympics oath entails... 'Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.'"