Volleyball team practices for international championships

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rusty Frank
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
With bright white lights overhead, the squeak of sneakers, chants, cheers and claps make up the sound of the 2014 U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa men's and women's volleyball team training camp.

The training camp was held in the Eifel Powerhaus March 21-24 and served as the primary platform for the players of the team to come together.

"We are here for a four-day training camp," said Dawn Pierce, Headquarters USAFE fitness and sports coordinator. "Our men and women come from both U.S. and USAFE bases, and this is their first opportunity to play together as a team."

The team comprises both men and women from the U.S. Air Force active-duty pool. On the men's team, there are 12 members, and on the women's side, there are 11.

The camp included two practice sessions a day, each lasting at least four hours of muscle-breaking conditioning. But every day served its own purpose.

"Day one was about assessing the players and trying to figure out who can play where and with who, and getting everybody up to the same expectations that I have as a coach," said Lani Kekahuna, USAFE men's and women's volleyball team head coach. "Days two and three are about the same thing, but with more emphasis on solidifying the six players and substitutes. Day four is just confirming what we have been practicing."

The camp provided players a way to show Airmanship by demonstrating Air Force Core Values.

"Service before self," said Staff Sgt. Miguel Figueroa, a player from Spangdahlem Air Base. "It's not about you, it's about your teammates. When they need help, you push them to make sure they get through it, and we put in our best to make the team happen."

Their best includes hard work, meticulous detail and dedication at the conclusion of camp, they just want to represent themselves, their unit, and their base properly when they go and compete.

"I'm just really thankful for this opportunity," said 2nd Lt. Maria Ralston, another player from Spangdahlem Air Base. "I'm really thankful for coach Lani letting me come out and try out, and I hope I represent Spangdahlem and my unit well."

When most teams conclude their training camp, they have many chances to become champions. For this team, they only have one shot at being called champs. Pierce said that the Inter-Nation Sports Programme Volleyball Championships Headquarters Allied Air Command, Ramstein serves as the team's only game.

The championship tournament provides a way for NATO and allied partners to come together and compete.

"That's what the whole goal of it is, because these are all Air Force members from six other nations coming together and competing," said Pierce. "There is a lot of friendship in sports and this culminates one of the greatest opportunities we have to be with our NATO partners and just enjoy each other."

The Inter-Nation Sports Programme Allied Air Command, Ramstein will be hosted by Royal Netherlands Air Force at Amsterdam March 25-28.