ORLANDO, FL. (August 31, 2022) -- Look in any dictionary and the definition of a warrior is a garden variety of “someone who shows great vigor, courage or aggressiveness.” The 2022 Department of Defense Warrior Games, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, was loaded with more than two hundred warriors for the past two weeks.
Teams from the U.S Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Special Operations Command, as well as Canada and Ukraine competed in fourteen different adaptive sports suited for wounded, ill and injured athletes.
From track and cycling to rowing and lifting … or team sports like sitting volleyball to wheelchair rugby and more, Team Army athletes say it's an experience they will never forget.
First timer at the Warrior Games U.S Army Cpl. Tiffanie Johnson was in awe of the honor to compete on Team Army. “My first Warrior Games have been memorable because of everyone involved and I have memories I will treasure forever. Just being here representing Team Army is honestly worth more to me than any award,” says Johnson who won six medals in individual competition.
Johnson goes on to say it’s the camaraderie that trumps the medals here at Warrior Games.
“I've learned from and gained a tremendous amount of respect for the athletes here. There have also been so many personnel who have worked tirelessly to aid the athletes throughout the competition, and I have appreciated everyone's effort in making this experience what it is.”
The experience with sister services and foreign friends creates bonds that can never be broken. Make no mistake, the competition is fierce, but the friendships made are forever.
“I made lifelong friends who I will never forget and that I hope I get the opportunity to compete with again,” said U.S Army Sgt. 1st Class Edward Maria.
Maria, who had the honor of carrying the Warrior Games torch for Team Army during the parade at Disney World is also a first time Team Army member.
“Being here at Warrior Games has been nothing but amazing. I have enjoyed every aspect of it,” said the avid cyclist.
U.S Army Maj. Victoria (Tori) Camire couldn’t agree more. “While I enjoyed doing well and seeing my hard work pay off, the best part was my teammates. As we rode the Warrior Games rollercoaster together, I was impressed by the companionship, selflessness, courage, and Warrior spirit embodied by each member of Team Army. I feel blessed and thankful I was able to be a part of this mind-blowing experience.”
Retired U.S Army Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Olson, a Veteran on Team Army reflects on this being his last games experience. Olson competed on Team Army at the 2019 Games in Tampa and on Team US at Invictus the Netherlands in May 2022. “This years’ experience is great! I got to meet so many warriors from different services and reconnect with some from previous games and Invictus games so it’s also a bit of a reunion,” said the four-sport medaling athlete. Much like Johnson’s take on camaraderie, Olson gives his thoughts on the young team and how they made it happen.
“This new Team Army this year they are amazing athletes, but also, we’ve really gelled together. Compared to previous teams I’ve been on this team is really close.”
You would think being a mostly freshman team would not bode well for winning medals, but Team Army delivered, winning 131 medals.
There’s a sense of gratitude for the many moving parts to make these games happen from family to leadership. At the end of the day this is all part of these athlete’s journey to recover and overcome. “I will forever be grateful to my parents, teammates, coaches, support staff, Joint Base Lewis McChord Adaptive Reconditioning Program staff, and Army Recovery Care Program personnel who were there for me, and the team, “said Camire.
As he sits in the arena at closing ceremonies, as a Team Army member one last time, Olson says he thinks the future for his team is beyond bright.
“Knowing that athletes that are here now will get to come back and continue to do these sports makes me proud and with this crew, Team Army is in good hands. I know I can pass the torch and these guys are going to carry on and do even more great things.”