By Tina Ray/ParaglideSeptember 24, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The Army may be red, white and blue, or camouflage, but Saturday, it was orange, yellow, black and a whole bunch of other colors as nearly 878 youth marched across Fort Bragg's NCO Academy Field in celebration of 2010 Fall Sports opening ceremony.
There are 51 teams participating in football, soccer, cheerleading and volleyball, said Patti Turner, chief, Youth and School Age Services.
Turner, who gave the welcoming rewards and introduced special guests at the ceremony, said she appreciates the support Families give youth who participate in Fort Bragg's sports programs.
"I just love it when parents come out supporting their kids," Turner said.
Volunteers and spouses of deployed Soldiers have stepped forward to help ensure the success of the program, she said.
"We couldn't exist without our volunteers. They're the heart and soul of the team," said Turner.
Colonel Stephen Sicinski, Fort Bragg Garrison commander, was a distinguished guest at the ceremony.
"I don't know of any garrison commander who has been a bigger supporter of our sports programs," Turner said, in introducing Sicinski.
In his remarks, Sicinski recognized four groups of people who make the programs work - volunteers, parents, coaches and children.
"The time you've spent on our athletic fields will make you better people," Sicinski told the youth. He also told them that winning is everything, but only if it is done with honor.
Parents have recognized that athletics is key to their children's development and coaches take time from busy, complicated lives to volunteer, Sicinski said. He asked youth to recite the Special Olympics oath: "Let me win, but if I can not win, let me be brave in the attempt."
Sicinski concluded by performing the first, symbolic football throw of the season to a Fort Bragg youth. He was joined by Daniel Ahern, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation director, who performed the first soccer kick; his wife, Teresa, who presented the first pompoms and Karen Miller, chief of Child, Youth and School Services, who tossed the first volleyball.
Siblings Vicente, 13, and Cristobal Guedelhoefer, 11, both plan to enjoy playing soccer this season.
"I feel it's good and it's fun, too, because there's a lot of activities and matches," said Cristobal, a Galaxy team member.
Playing for the Intermediate Gators will also give Vicente the opportunity to hone his skills and put them to use as a defensive player on the Albritton Junior High soccer team.
"I play soccer everyday...it's fun and you learn different moves," Vicente said.
Yet, it is not only the skills the youth learn on the fields that matters most to the coaches.
"I like seeing the kids improve," said A.J. Hickman, coach of the Junior Pee Wee Falcons tackle football team. "(I like) seeing them become little leaders right there on the field."