By Dean Siemon, Northwest GuardianJune 15, 2018
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Sergeant Steven Wurth of Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Warrior Transition Battalion at Madigan Army Medical Center has fallen in love with wheelchair basketball.
That passion has grown over the past year and hit its highest peak when he joined Team Army to go undefeated, earning the gold medal at the 2018 Warrior Games at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. Wurth and his Army teammates went 7-0, including a 57-46 win over Air Force in the championship game.
When he made his first basket in the tournament, Wurth said he was elated and had a sense of "we can do this."
"I can actually compete on a very high level again," Wurth said.
Wurth entered the WTB after ankle reconstructive surgery during his second stint with the Army. The ankle injury requires him to wear an Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis brace.
After serving in the Army from 1983 to 1986, Wurth went into construction with his family's business in Michigan. But due to economic downturn in 2005, Wurth had to find a way to support his family and came back into the Army.
Wurth said he was in a dark place mentally before he was introduced to the wheelchair-on-hardwood experience earlier this year at the JBLM WTB Adaptive Sports program. He sought to improve and gained valuable skills and experience through the Tacoma Titans wheelchair basketball team.
Wurth said the coaches and players helped him with more than just his skills on the court.
"They really helped me come out of the rabbit hole and brought me more of a passion for wheelchair basketball," he said.
Wurth plans on investing into wheelchair basketball equipment so he can continue playing. He said he dreams of returning to the 2019 Warrior Games and working toward competing in the global Invictus Games.
"So I'm going to keep practicing," Wurth said. "I'm going to get my own basketball wheelchair and practice to get better."
Wurth also represented Team Army in two handcycling events. He finished sixth place in the road race and ninth in the time trials.
Ever since he went to the Army's Warrior Games trials earlier this year, Wurth has told fellow WTB service members about the benefits of adaptive sports.
"There are alternatives for us; it doesn't matter what your injury is, there's something for you," Wurth said. "It's modified, so you don't have to get depressed and down because you can't compete."
Four other athletes from JBLM earned medals during the 2018 Warrior Games at the Air Force Academy.
In swimming, Spc. Angela Euson set a Warrior Games record when she finished the 50-meter backstroke (6.0 division) with a time of 41.82 seconds earning the gold medal. Euson also earned silver in the 50-meter freestyle (34.47 ) and the 100-meter freestyle (1:21.74).
Euson also earned a silver medal in the shot put (6.0 division) with a throw of 8.44 meters. Sergeant First Class Heather Moran also earned a shot put in silver (5.5 lower division) in addition to a gold in the discus with a throw of 23.93 meters.
Moran was very busy as she competed in two, 10-meter air rifle events in the SH2 division - earning fourth place in prone and fifth place in standing. She also gave indoor rowing a shot in the 1-minute sprint (fourth) and the 4-minute endurance event (10th).
Sergeant First Class James Shields earned silver in swimming in the 50-meter backstroke (5.5 division), as well as the 200-meter freestyle mixed relay. Sergeant First Class Daniel Foiles won silver in the men's shot put (5.5 division).