By Molly Hayden, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Public Affairs March 18, 2013
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany (March 18, 2013) -- When it's comes to basketball, Sgt. William Avery is a straight-up baller.
"Well, I used to be," said the humble Warrior Transition Battalion-Europe Soldier.
Don't listen to him. Avery still has moves on the court, even if he's now playing in a wheelchair.
Avery does not require a wheelchair. He can easily get up and walk off the court, as can all of his teammates. But a lot of Soldiers within his unit, to include himself, have physical limitations. Avery injured his hip when his convoy flipped last year while deployed to Iraq.
"I simply can't play full-court basketball anymore," he said. "And I can't risk another injury."
So Avery plays things like wheelchair basketball and seated volleyball, two adaptive sports that were demonstrated to Soldiers outside of the Warrior Transition Battalion,or WTB, at the Grafenwoehr Physical Fitness Center, March 14.
Elizabeth Thometz, a rehab therapy assistant for the battalion, explained that adaptive sports were introduced as a way for WTB-E Soldiers with physical limitations to remain involved in the world of recreational sports.
"The adaptive version of the sports they know and play keeps them active," said Thometz. "And this is done without worsening any injuries they may have."
During the two-hour event, WTB-E Soldiers challenged 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion and 2nd Cavalry Regiment Soldiers (and a few inquisitive community members) to friendly games of adaptive volleyball and basketball.
"It's more challenging from down there," Sgt. Charles Holland, 44th ESB, said about playing seated volleyball.
Spc. Oswald Roche agreed, saying it was the kind of game you needed to practice, which is probably why WTB-E held on to a narrow lead for majority of the matches.
Across the gym on the basketball court, Sgt. Daniel Penvose was quick on his wheels. He rolled down the court while simultaneously dribbling. Penvose passed to Pfc. David Hunter who was stationed under the (now much, much taller) basket. Despite the rim's new relative height, the ball swished effortlessly through the net.
Winning a few rounds wasn't the only high point for the WTB. The event also educated the community on what the battalion provides and the capabilities of its Soldiers.
"The WTB is sometimes thought of as this separate unit because we're not doing the same things as other battalions, we're not deploying," said Thometz. "We want to bridge that gap."
A friendly game of basketball has a way of doing just that, especially when you can level the playing field with four wheels.