By Annette P. Gomes Warrior Care and Transition
FORT BLISS, TX - Retired Army Staff Sergeant and archery head coach, Jessie White, thought he was walking into Milam Gymnasium at Fort Bliss, Texas for a scheduled Army Trials archery practice, however his athletes had other plans.
White, who has been Team Army's archery head coach for the past six years, was honored with the Tomahawk award for his unwavering commitment to helping athletes pursue their love of archery.
The Tomahawk award was created in commemoration of the Revolutionary War, when the Continental Congress required the military to carry a sword and a tomahawk. Due to the unreliable nature of firearms and the expense of swords, the tomahawk was readily carried. It's noted the tomahawk was a proven steadfast weapon.
Sgt. Aaron Averre opened the floor for tributes noting the award reflects White's nature.
"It's important to pay respects to those that have mentored and guided us through Army Trials and Warrior Games and that person is Mr. Jessie White. The tomahawk is a proven steadfast weapon just as Coach Jessie has proven to be a steadfast coach. You've done a lot for us professionally and personally and we just really want you to know how much we appreciate you and your contributions," Averre said.
"There is so much historical relevance behind the Tomahawk, as Jessie has been to this program. He's responsible for so much of this program that we have; the training, the equipment along with the victories and the successes that we have. It just made sense to bring attention to all Jessie has done," added archery coach Frank Barroqueiro.
Sgt. Brent Sixkiller, Spc. Michelle Sanchez and Spc. Lauren Britt, all competitors in the 2019 Army Trials, say White has been a lifeline.
"After my injuries, I didn't really know what I was going to do. I was fortunate to pick up archery. Coach White kept me on track and if it wasn't for this man and what he's done for us and our WTB, I don't know what I would have done. He's always there whenever you need him," said Sixkiller.
"I just want coach White to know he means a lot to me. Archery saved my life. Coaches like him who constantly motivate us and cheer us on make all the difference in a person's life," added Sanchez.
"You are the coach that actually believed in me and that was really big for me in my life. It definitely motivated me to accomplish things, by renewing my purpose. You're just the man, Coach White, you're awesome," continued Britt.
As the tributes wrapped up, White accepted the award, and explained his unique connection with the Army trials athletes.
"This is really what it's about. In 2010, I was sitting in Walter Reed (National Military Medical Center) and I hated the world. They told me I would never walk again and I set out to prove to them that I would. This is the reason I do this and I continue to do this," said White. "I started where you are, and I want to get people like you to where I am now. I've been a head archery coach for six years, I've been to Invictus (Games) twice and I've coached all over the world. My gift to you is that I want you all to know anything is possible."