JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, competed in the Deep Steel Winter Games, a three-day tournament that consisted of multiple athletic events, Nov. 20-22.

"The intent behind it was to let the soldiers bring out their athleticism and have one more festive event that we could compete in as a team and as a unit before we head out on deployment," said Capt. Trevor Rogers, a San Jose, Calif., native, and the communications officer with 1-94 FA.

Allowing soldiers to compete in teams in a recreational environment helps build unity, said Pfc. Ross Warren, a Long Island, N.Y., native, and command driver with 1-94 FA.

"You learn about people when you're on a [sports] team with them. You can see how they're going to participate with people outside of work," Warren said. "It makes me see that these guys can be my family."

The Deep Steel Battalion offered a range of events for the winter games to help maximize that connection between soldiers, Rogers said.

"Originally, [the winter games] had started out as just a football tournament," Rogers said. "As the events went on and as people started showing up, there was a lot of positive feedback because it allowed soldiers who don't play football to show off their skills [in other sports]."

Between relay races, sprinting events, gatorball and more, everyone could choose an event they were most interested in.

"Any opportunity that you have to recognize other people's skills and figure out how you can solve a problem together, that's a great opportunity," Rogers said.

He added that getting soldiers to work together in a friendly competition was an excellent precursor to their pending deployment.

"There's nothing like having a sense of cohesion and camaraderie to gather everybody together as we get ready to focus on our mission," he said.

Warren agreed with the sentiment, feeling a little closer to his Army team after spending some time on the field with them.

"[When we're deployed], we're not going to have our families. All we're going to have is each other, so when you look at it, this is our family," Warren said. "For us to be able to do something like this, it means a lot."