Three time All American basketball player and coach of the UCLA Bruins, John Wooden once said “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.” Team Army Coach Adriane Wilson does both every day when she works with wounded, ill and injured Soldiers getting ready to compete.
“Competing at Warrior Games or at other levels or events, is not just about winning… this is a lifelong journey and hopefully we are developing skills that you can use past the games that you can share with family and friends... to be able to show people they don’t have to feel lost they can be active.”
Learning how to be active again or as the Army likes to say recover and overcome, is a learned skill Soldiers go through with the Army Recovery Care program. “I’m so proud of this program and the people who are involved because it’s so important for everyone’s physical health and mental health,” said Coach Wilson who is in her eighth year of coaching at the Army Trials, Warrior Games and Invictus levels for our U.S. Military.
“In my profession I want people to know that you can be physical, you can be active you can find new sports and new activity that suits you. Not everybody’s an archer, not everybody will go swimming, but maybe they will find they’re good at throwing or wheelchair basketball… I want people to know they can still have a passion.”
Retired Staff Sergeant Jack DeLeuw still has that passion. His passion is for learning about what great adaptations are out there now that he is a paraplegic and on Team Army headed to Warrior Games in August.
“It never fails to astonish me of all the adaptations there are out there to make it possible for those who are injured, wounded, and or ill to be able to participate in the activities they enjoy. Along with all the individuals like coach Adrian, Ross Alewine, and other coaches who are out there to help with assisting those who strive to better themselves at the multiple different activities they participate in,” said DeLeuw
Wilson is excited about the make up of the team this year and marvels at the progress she’s seen since the one and only camp right before Army Trials out at Joint Base Lewis McChord. She watched Soldiers progress in huge ways she says, and no matter how small they think the progression is, it’s still a victory. “A smaller step is fine. Keep moving. You don’t want to stand in the same place. Always find a new path. Small progress is still a victory. It may be different than what you had planned but that’s always part of the journey.”
The most immediate journey for Coach Wilson and Team Army is the 2022 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Walt Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando Florida August 19-28th. Having just come back from coaching Team US at Invictus in the Netherlands in May, Wilson suspects the atmosphere in Orlando will be a positive charged one, something she feels everyone will notice.
“When you arrive at the venue, everyone will be so excited to be there and ready to compete, but it’s more than that competitive feeling. It’s about finally being around people, athletes, comrades, friends with so much gratitude. These athletes want to show the work they’ve been putting into the world, and they will get to do that in August.”
Team Army athletes are hopeful people will come to the venue and watch for themselves, the journey all the service athletes are on as they recover and overcome.
Wilson though, has an ultimate take away she hopes fans will get.
“I’d also like people to know these are service men and women still representing the United States even though they might be Veteran Status or Active duty. They are there, wounded, ill or injured, being the best Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine, they can be and representing the United States and I’m incredibly proud of that and proud to be part of it.