By Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr., Defense Media ActivityNovember 18, 2014
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Army News Service, Nov. 18, 2014) -- The Army Men's Sitting Volleyball Team is confident and optimistic as it prepares for the interservice sitting volleyball tournament, scheduled for Thursday, at the Pentagon.
Following practice at Specker Field House here yesterday, the team discussed its preparation and expressed confidence in playing well during the tournament.
COACH DISCUSSES EXPECTATIONS
Uros Davidovic, coach for the Pentagon sitting volleyball tournament, talked about his expectations for the team.
"We expect to play well," he said. "We expect to control things on our side. We expect to take plays one play at a time, and the rest of it will take care of itself.
"Our expectation is to win, but we're not talking about it too much," Davidovic continued. "We're just talking about playing good, clean volleyball, making sure no balls are dropped, and just taking care of our side -- not worrying about anything outside of our side."
The coach noted the team has taken on some challenges as it has prepared to compete, but has been able to overcome them.
"We've faced a lot of logistical challenges just trying to get enough practice time [and] trying to get the right people on the court," Davidovic said. "I think for this competition we have a really strong core of people."
STRONG NUCLEUS OF PLAYERS
The team has a strong nucleus of players, he said -- experienced players who have been around the game for a as well as some good newcomers.
"That's really good, because you can do some more advanced things with the team," Davidovic said. "Ultimately, it's going to come down to who plays harder in the moment, and we're hoping to be that team that plays the best at the very end."
Davidovic said the team is on the right track and has been able to build good cohesion.
"These guys know each other very well through different competitions and events," he said, "so there's already a lot of unity on the team before we even start to step on the court."
Pfc. Dustin Barr, a newcomer to the team from the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, serves as a "hitter" for the front line, and said he is confident in the squad's abilities.
"I really feel like we have a really good team," he said. "Everybody works together -- good cooperation, good group of guys. Real easy to work with, and we're all really competitive. I noticed in our practices, the more competitive it was, the better we did. So I feel like we're going to do real good in the games."
The Jamesville, North Carolina, native said he believes the team will only continue to improve.
"Every day, we're getting better," Barr said. "Every time we practice, everything gets better; I can only imagine what the game will be like."
ADJUSTING TO ASPECTS OF GAME
Barr has been a Soldier for three years. He injured both feet and his back during Army training. As a relatively inexperienced player, he said, he's had to adjust to certain aspects of the game.
"I'm not used to that whole sliding around on the floor," he said. "These guys are doing circles around me. I'm trying my best to keep up [and] learning, but it's a good group of guys coaching and teaching. I don't learn just from our coach. I learn from every player. They all have good parts in [my learning]."
Barr said he enjoys the opportunity to compete and the outlet that adaptive sports provide for wounded warriors.
"It's great," he said. "You can stay active, and you don't have to sit in a room all the time. I just see it as a real positive thing. They ought to do this more often."
Sgt. Robbie Gaupp, who served from 2003 until being medically retired in 2011, also expressed his confidence in the team.
"I should be expecting what everybody else is expecting -- to win, and to hopefully bring home gold," he said. "You want to go out and play your hardest and your best, and perform how you should."
Gaupp, a Gatesville, Texas, native has had to overcome being forced to use his left arm. He shattered his right arm in 2008, during Operation Jumpstart.
"I had to learn to use my ability over my disability," he said, "because I'm not left-hand dominant, and I've had to use my left hand."
LEADERSHIP WILL BE A FACTOR
Gaupp has been involved in adaptive sports since 2010, and he said he has aspirations of making the national team. He pointed to leadership as a key factor in the team's future success.
The biggest part will be not arguing, growing together and forgetting about the last point if it's a mistake, he said.
"Leadership plays a role in that," he added. "So if somebody has to say something, there's a floor captain for that reason. [But] I feel great about it. I feel like it's an obligation for me as a leader. I'm here to win."
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