"Pati A! Pati A! Pati A! Lua Mai, hey!" can be heard throughout the court as the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, "Mad Spikers," score a point against 10th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, during the intramural volleyball championship. The Soldiers face each other clapping and smiling, encouraging their teammates in a Samoan cheer. They also gave encouragement to their opponents throughout the game in the true spirit of sportsmanship.
A majority of the team are Samoan and became friends through their tight-knit culture.
"I think we are close as a team because we are Samoan. I know if we didn't have mostly Samoans on our team we wouldn't be as loud and have the same energy. We have a connection by being Samoan when we play volleyball, "said Spc. Dorothy Loud, a player for the "Mad Spikers." "Volleyball is one of the biggest sports back home."
American-Samoa is located in the South Pacific Ocean southeast of Samoa, and is considered an unincorporated United States Territory. The people who live there are of Polynesian descent and their culture is centered around the ocean and islander tradition.
Family or Aiga is one of the biggest aspects of Samoan culture. "Aiga" is the Samoan word for family, and it consists of both immediate and extended family. 3-15IN's team the "Mad Spikers," made their own extended Aiga through being a team. The volleyball team has become like a home away from home for the "Mad Spikers."
"Family is one of the biggest parts of our culture. We're all away from home, so like when you see another Samoan you try to link up and say hi. And we try to become friends and try to make this our home away from home," said Spc. Soapy Ifopo, another player for the "Mad Spikers."
Many of the Samoans here at Fort Stewart have felt an instant connection through their culture and have a bond through the distance from home.
"When we meet other Samoans, we become like family almost instantly. It doesn't matter where you're from, we all know it costs too much to go back home, so when we meet each other here, we all look out for each other," said Spc. Moira Price, Captain of the "Mad Spikers."
Volleyball is an important sport in Samoa and also had a part in bringing the team together. The intramural volleyball program wasn't well-known in 2ABCT, so Spc. Price and her Samoan friends and family came together from across the Brigade to form a team comprised of Soldiers of Samoan descent.
"Volleyball is part of our culture. Back at home everyone becomes a family through the sport and a lot of my friends from other Battalions didn't even know there was intramural volleyball," said Price. "But us all being Samoan and wanting to play, we asked if we could have a team with Soldiers from different Battalions play with us, and the director said yes."
During the volleyball season, 3-15IN went undefeated, winning every game they played. In the championship they defeated 10BEB. Their pride in their culture and team mates gave them the determination to win. In the end, they won by 2 sets to 0 and held the championship trophy high.