By Dustin Perry, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsJanuary 23, 2014
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Jan. 23, 2014) -- U.S. Army Japan's Special Troops Battalion won its first ever Commander's Cup title for the fiscal 2013 intramural sports season and was recognized for the achievement during a ceremony held Jan. 22 at Yano Fitness Center here.
STB outscored the 11 other competing units across a season that spanned 27 events with a final tally of 159 points -- enough to edge out second- and third-place finishers the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and the Directorate of Emergency Services, which both finished with 148 points.
The championship trophy was presented to Capt. Matthew House, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, USARJ, who accepted it on behalf of the STB Soldiers and civilian employees in attendance at the event.
"It was a long time coming, but I'm very glad that we were here to see it be presented to us," said House. "I know the Soldiers and the whole team really felt a sense of accomplishment, because that was one of our main goals ... to hoist up that trophy for the first time for our organization."
The Commander's Cup uses a system in which teams are awarded points for each event based on where they finish in the brackets. STB earned crucial points from stellar performances in three of the season's four major team sports, including season-winning runs in basketball and softball, and a season- and tournament-winning sweep in flag football. STB also won the free-throw and three-point competitions, and had respectable finishes in volleyball, golf, bowling and the home run derby.
"If we're going to compete, we're going to compete all-in, and that's what we did," said House. "We had a lot of participation points where we didn't necessarily win [an event], but ... that gave us quite a few points that contributed to the overall total of our team points."
True to their name, participation points are awarded to units simply for representing their organization in a given event. And although they are not worth as much as placing in the top three, for example, they can often mean the difference between winning the Commander's Cup and settling for runner-up, said Greg Zaboski, the intramural sports coordinator assigned to the Directorate of Morale, Welfare and Recreation here.
"I think it is pivotal to have participation in each event," said Zaboski. "We encourage all units and community members to come out and support the program, because we couldn't offer it if they didn't come."
The intent of the Commander's Cup program is to foster a sense of team spirit and esprit de corps at Camp Zama and to keep the Soldiers, civilians, host-nation employees and their family members here active in their community, Zaboski said. This is achieved by including in the season not only popular team sports like flag football, basketball and softball, but also one-off and niche events such as table tennis, dodgeball, darts, billiards and water polo.
House agreed with Zaboski's assessment, saying the Commander's Cup is not only a competition, but also "an opportunity for our Soldiers, civilians [and] host-nation employees to come together and be a team outside of the workplace."
"It gives us the opportunity to continue that competitive spirit that we naturally have in wanting to achieve great results on the job, but also 'off the clock,' so to speak," added House.
The Commander's Cup trophy was presented, naturally, by Col. Joy L. Curriera, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, and Command Sgt. Maj. Katrina M. Najee, USAG-J command sergeant major. The program helps to strengthen the community's resiliency and also promotes teambuilding and camaraderie throughout the installation, said Curriera.
"It is really exciting whenever we can recognize individuals within our community," said Curriera. "I look for continued good sportsmanship and competition [in future seasons]."
The fiscal 2014 season is currently underway, and STB currently stands in fourth place. But House said there are still several events yet to come and plenty of time to make up for lost points. The team started strong when, during their basketball season opener held Jan. 21, they claimed a 59-20 victory.