This March, over 300 wounded warrior athletes gathered at 4th Annual Marine Corps Warrior Trials at Camp Pendleton. Athletes from across the US, Canada, Colombia, France, Georgia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom met to compete in various adaptive sports, many with the aspiration to earn a spot in the 2014 Warrior Games, to be held in September in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Although the focus of the event was competition, the brotherhood and bond between the athletes, both domestic and international, was evident at every turn. Whether it was a misstep or a victory, every performance evoked cheers and a sense of community resounded throughout the entire event. Many of the athletes look to this sense of community to help their recovery, but also as an opportunity to inspire others in similar situations.
Jose Barron heard about the Marine Trials while he was recovering from wounds he sustained in Afghanistan at Balboa Naval Medical Center in San Diego, Calif.
“I was looking to meet others with disabilities, and cope with them,” he said. “(Adaptive sports) has given me a lot more confidence and you meet so many other wounded warriors that motive you.”
Jose is no stranger to these types of competitions; this was his third time at the Marine Corps Trials. However, this time around, he refocused his goals from getting the gold to inspiring more wounded warriors to participate.
“My job now is to get the rest of the guys involved and give them a taste of how it feels to get gold,” he said. Luckily for Jose, he was able to do a little of both during this year’s trials by propelling his wheelchair basketball team to the gold medal podium for a third straight year.
Jose and the other athletes at the Marine Corps Trials are living proof that the benefits of adaptive sports go far beyond the physical rehabilitation and that some of the most powerful recovery is done in the space between competitions.