COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 29, 2014) --"Point Army," the announcer boomed, and Ron Hasting, Rhonda Caskey, and Corey Hasting collectively caught their breath.
They watched from the bleachers as Sgt. Scotty Hasting sat balancing on his right hip on center court, pushed his body forward and used this momentum to pitch the volleyball back over the net. Sitting volleyball was the first event of the fifth annual Warrior Games, and Hasting's parents and younger brother watched as the Army team waged an offensive against the Air Force, in the three-part game.
Playing until the first team wins 25 points, Air Force beat Army 25-22, at the close of part one.
"It's been almost three years. He never gave up," Caskey said of her son's recovery from severe injuries sustained while deployed, in 2011. Part of that recovery involved learning how to become left-hand dominant -- a task which, for an expert marksman, was especially difficult.
"To see him adjust and be an expert in what he does now is phenomenal," Caskey beamed.
A gifted athlete from an early age, Hasting participated in different sports at the encouragement of his parents. Ron Hasting credits the competitiveness of sports like sitting volleyball as a conduit for his son's recovery.
"A lot of these young Soldiers leave a piece of themselves overseas," Ron Hasting said, nodding toward the court. "This gives him a sense of purpose. This gives him his sense of self back."
The energy in the auditorium was palpable as Army beat Air Force 25-17, in the second match.
Hasting's brother Corey sat with his parents and Danny the service dog, cheering as the third and final game in the "best out of three" competition began. Shorter than the two previous matches, the final round caps at 15 points.
"He's always come to watch me play," said Corey Hasting, an Ohio University football player who dreams of going pro. "He's always been there for me. We're big competitors, but we've always had each other's backs."
For the Hasting family, who remember exactly what they were doing the day Scotty Hasting was injured, sitting volleyball is not about winning. For the Hasting family, who share an invisible, unbreakable bond, the Warrior Games are not about medals. For the Hasting family, who tonight sat knitted together in the stands, the competitions are not about coming in first.
"We're all just really proud of him. We all support him, even if he finishes last," said Corey Hasting.
As the final buzzer cut across the auditorium, the first event of the 2014 Warrior Games came to a close with an Air Force win of 15-13. Winning two of the three games, Air Force moved on to play Special Operations Command.
As the Hastings began their descent to the court, Caskey smiled.
"He's a good example that life may never be the same, but that doesn't mean it can't be better," she said.