K-State men's basketball team visits WTB Soldiers
September 9, 2011
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- A group of visitors to the Warrior Transition Battalion's Soldier and Family Assistance Center made Sgt. Brett Lester, a WTB Soldier, feel small.
The Kansas State University men's basketball team visited the center to meet the wounded warriors, sign autographs and play air hockey and pool with them.
"I'm 5 (feet) 9 (inches), and I felt tiny," Lester said. "These guys are trees, and I'm a bush."
Lester, who said he's grown into a bigger sports fan since joining the Army, said he really enjoyed the opportunity to meet the Wildcats.
"Since I've been (at Fort Riley), I've been getting in to K-State," he said. "They're the ones that entertain us and give us motivation and something to look forward to everyday. It's really nice of these guys to take time out of their day and come out. I'm sure they have other things they can be doing. We definitely appreciate it. It's something I'm definitely going to remember."
Lester played air hockey against Omari Lawrence, a sophomore guard who just joined the team.
"I scored on (Lawrence) playing air hockey," Lester said. "I think he was a little upset, and he walked away after that one."
Victor Ojeleye, a senior forward from Ottawa, Kan., said the team enjoyed the opportunity as much as the Soldiers.
"It's fun to come out here and thank them and tell them we appreciate everything that they do," he said. "It's also a great way to encourage them, and they encourage us because we know there's people out there that don't have the same opportunities as us. The guys appreciate the opportunity to come out here to meet people and just share some time with them because that's what's important in life -- giving back and sharing your time with others."
Ojeleye said the basketball team and the wounded warriors gained strength and motivation from each other.
"It's really a mutual thing," he said.
Ojeleye talked to many of the wounded warriors and learned about the issues they're dealing with.
"They really talked about how important Family is to them," he said. "Family involvement is really important to helping guys get rejuvenated and be built back up in terms of regaining their strength -- just having someone there to support them to get them through the tough times and things like that. It's definitely motivating to see how they apply some of the same things we apply and we draw strength from that."
The Wildcats begin their season Nov. 6 with a home game against Fort Hays State University at Bramlage Coliseum. For more information on the team, visit www.k-statesports.com.