By L.A. Shively, Fort Sam Houston News LeaderJuly 28, 2011
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- A gaggle of kids, some sitting cross-legged while others draped themselves over basketball bean bags at the Keith A. Campbell Library, waited anxiously to hear a story read to them from a famous athlete.
At the same time, across post at the new Fort Sam Houston Fitness Center in the Medical Education and Training Campus, kids warmed up and practiced dribbling or shooting baskets while waiting to get tips on playing basketball from a professional.
As players entered the library and gym, the kids’ excitement meters topped out with cheers and applause.
Basketball players from the Women’s National Basketball Association, in San Antonio for the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game, took time out from their rigorous schedules to spend the morning with children at Fort Sam Houston July 22.
After visiting with the children, players met and worked out with wounded warriors at the Center for the Intrepid.
“It’s such a great opportunity to connect with the community, children especially,” said Maya Moore, a small forward for the Minnesota Lynx, who played for the West in the All-Star matchup.
“This is a great opportunity to have world-class athletes come in and help us show kids that reading is important,” agreed Col. John Lamoureux, commander, 502nd Mission Support Group.
Lamoureux said that the players will leave a lasting impression. He said he discovered the Army and flying through books.
“People who are professionals and very successful in their own right, and who believe in reading, shows the kids that reading is important and helps you make something of yourself.”
“When you’re a child you have role models you look up to whether you realize it or not. They can sometimes set the habits " the things that you end up loving.” Moore said. “That’s what made me want to play basketball.”
“It’s inspirational for them to be encouraged to read and do motivational things like play sports and see their role models do the same thing,” explained Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman A.J. Ferdinand, whose two children attended the reading at the library.
“Reading exercises the mind, so increases vocabulary and self esteem.”
Over at the gym, 11-year-old Aleisha Whitaker concentrated hard to make sure she was doing the exercises correctly and focused like a laser beam when one of the basketball players shared tips on playing the game.
Whitaker said she plans to become a professional basketball player.
“I saw a game one time and I tried it. After that I just got more into it, then I started practicing more and got a little bit better " I hope to be like one of them one day.”
Over at the CFI, wounded warriors took time from their workout to demonstrate many of the kinds of exercises they use in recovery.
Cappy Pondexter, a top scorer with the New York Liberty, who represented the East in the All-Star Game, worked up quite a sweat in a short time. She said she was surprised at the intensity of the workout.
“We didn’t know that on the outside looking in and it was a great experience. I salute them,” she said.
“It’s not every day do we get to have other athletes come and do exercises with us,” said Sgt. Victor Munoz, injured in a vehicle accident in Germany. They get a glimpse of what we do every day. All wounded warriors are athletes in our own way. To see them exercise and give it 100 percent is pretty cool.”
Staff Sgt. Marcia Morris-Roberts won silver at the 2011 Warrior Games in sitting shot-put. She lost a leg, a finger and a toe after developing frostbite, a complication from lupus caused by sleeping in unheated quarters in Tennessee.
She said she really enjoyed watching the players work out with the warriors.
‘I think it’s terrific,” Morris-Roberts said enthusiastically. “If I could jump hoops I’d be right there with them on the court, giving them heck.”
Instead, Morris-Roberts is planning on competing in the sport of rollerblading. “I’m having a special prosthetic made!”
Bringing the WNBA on post gives those who have no knowledge of the military a new perspective Lamoureux explained.
“It brings awareness to not only the installation, but to what we do for families. In the bigger scheme of things, it was the first time for some of our guests to be on a military installation. We can educate the American people about who we are and what we’re all about.”