ARLINGTON, Va. — The 2021 Army Trials held its closing ceremony virtually on March 15, and the event was packed with excitement for the upcoming Warrior Games and recognition of the accomplishments of wounded, ill and injured Soldiers who competed despite extraordinary circumstances.
Normally held at Fort Bliss in Texas, the trials went virtual after being cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From March 1-15, 78 athletes competed around the country to be selected for Team Army. A group of 45 individuals will head to the Department of Defense Warrior Games in Florida in September to battle head-to-head with the other Services and Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
"I am so proud of your accomplishments,” said Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, Army Surgeon General, during the ceremony. "To the competitors, please accept my personal congratulations. I'm so excited to see who Team Army is going to be. But whether you were selected for the team or not, you have already achieved amazing feats."
The Army will announce the names of those who made the team in April.
Command Sgt. Maj. Diamond D. Hough, Army Medical Command, added that the Army Trials were about more than the Warrior Games for the athletes who participated.
"The adaptive reconditioning you all do is even more important," he said. "It's about maintaining mental, physical and emotional health and wellness."
Capt. Luis Avila sang the national anthem and "God Bless America" during the ceremony.
The ceremony included a slideshow of photos and quotes from athletes, who described how the competition contributed to their growth as Soldiers and human beings.
"I wanted to make my own memories and now, I have my own memories to share and make my family proud," Cpl. Mary Velis said.
"The comradery we gain and lasting friendships is what drives us to do better and want the best!" retired Sgt. 1st Class Greg Quarles added. "The virtual games have been hard, but have shown us, just like our injuries, that with hard work anything is possible. Go TEAM ARMY!!"
Dr. Rory Cooper, an Army veteran and world-renowned expert in wheeled mobility, urged athletes to continue their journey improving themselves and supporting their teammates.
"Mentor other Soldiers who are in similar circumstances so they can continue to benefit from adaptive reconditioning and sports," he said. "Also, [it is important to] maintain your own health and participate in activities you can do with your families as well."
Lt. Gen. Dingle urged all athletes to get behind whoever is selected to go to Florida.
"My closing message to you all is to continue to support your teammates and cheer each other on as we head into Warrior Games in September," he said. "All of the sweat and sheer effort ... showcases the best of what the Army has to offer."
Scores and classifications from all athletes will be ranked in each sport. Athletes must compete in at least three individual sports, and they will be chosen based on a combination of the highest ranked scores and the ability to fill the maximum number of start rights. ARCP wishes the best of luck to all of the competitors.