52 FW honors Saber Athletes of the Year

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nick Wilson
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Every year, each U.S. Air Forces in Europe base nominates a male and female athlete based on squadron contribution, exceptional physical fitness and sports participation. The 2010 Spangdahlem Athletes of the Year are Senior Airman Ryann Werner, 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron precision guided munitions crew member, and Senior Airman Gregory Parks, 606th Air Control Squadron ground radio communications systems journeyman.

"I think it's a fabulous way to honor two strong individuals that contribute toward our sports community," said Krystal Rhodes, 52nd Force Support Squadron sports director. "They don't have to be the best athletes. It's also a character thing too."

Airman Werner, the female nominee, enjoys playing sports and has been active in them since she was seven years old. At the age of ten, she began to play for the Olympic Development Program, which is similar to a state soccer team that travels and plays other states in the same region.

During high school, Airman Werner also received four varsity letters in soccer and two in basketball. She made first team all-city, first team all-region and second team all-state in soccer. Because of her talents, she received a full soccer scholarship to the University of Wisconsin. She also attended Washburn University and played soccer there as a goalkeeper there until 2006 when she joined the Air Force.

"I enjoy playing sports," said Airman Werner. "I won't lie and say I love going to the gym just to work out. Playing sports is how I stay in shape, and it has worked for me so far. I've been here almost four years and have always enjoyed every team I've played for or coached. I think for such a small base that has such an enormous mission we do quite well with squadron and base sports."

While stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base, Airman Werner has played on the women's base soccer team, traveled to England for the USAFE soccer tournament and was selected for the USAFE All-Star soccer team.

She's also been heavily involved with other community sports activities while at home and deployed.

"I've played intramural volleyball, coached 11-12-year-old soccer and have developed quite a passion for snowboarding," said Airman Werner. "During my last deployment, I helped organize and played in friendly four vs. four soccer games. Members from the Navy, Army, Marines, Coast Guard, contractors and Ugandan security forces played with us."

Airman Parks, the male nominee, enjoys training and is in the gym working out as often as he can. He's played several squadron-level intramural sports including basketball, flag football, volleyball and soccer. This is his first time winning this award.

"Working out is always fun, and the best part is going out and practicing with a group of friends and calling it physical training," Airman Parks said. "Anyone can win this award if you take the time to help out your squadron a few nights a week playing sports."
Airman Parks also coaches some of the sports he participates in. While stationed at Spangdahlem, he's coached flag football, indoor soccer, softball and volleyball.

"I try to coach and play at the same time. I love playing, but when I coach, I can make other players better," Airman Parks said.

Airman parks has been active in soccer since he was four-years old and has played it competitively since he was nine-years old.

With a father in the military, he's played soccer for several base and youth teams around the globe.

"I've played on so many soccer teams that I can't even remember what the names of the last ones are."

Airman Parks also played midfield on a traveling soccer team in Oklahoma called the Oklahoma Swoosh. He also played volleyball and softball for several youth centers while growing up.

Both Airmen Parks' and Werner's Athlete of the Year packages have been sent to USAFE to compete at the major command level. The male and female winner of this Award will compete for the 2010 Air Force Athlete of the Year Award.

"We honor them on our base and advance those packages to USAFE, and those winners go to all Air Force," said Ms. Rhodes.