Warrior Games Trials 2014 – USSOCOM: Competition and Continued Service


US Air Force Staff Sergeant Erin McLoughlin competing in the archery trials at MacDill AFB.  MASP Photo/Roger L. Wollenberg

US Air Force Staff Sergeant Erin McLoughlin competing in the archery trials at MacDill AFB.

Last month, more than 50 wounded, ill, and injured Service members attached to the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) gathered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., to vie for positions on the team heading to Colorado Springs, Colo. for the 2014 Warrior Games this fall.  Featuring swimming, cycling, archery, shooting, track and field and sitting volleyball trials, the atmosphere was one of friendly competition, with athletes listening intently to coaches’ feedback and pushing one another to do better next time.

One such athlete striving for personal best was U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Erin McLoughlin, who competed in archery. Having served since 2003 – she joined at 17 – Erin is due to separate from the military within the year, after sustaining a traumatic brain injury during a routine training activity in an altitude chamber.  Throughout her recovery and rehabilitation, USSOCOM Care Coalition’s Wounded Warrior Athletic Reconditioning Program (WWARP), has helped Erin embrace challenges in her own way. During the trials in Tampa, she opted to compete on the more difficult of the two possible bow models, relishing the additional effort required to draw back and launch her arrows.  In addition to archery, Erin hopes to participate in other adaptive sports during the Warrior Games, which are scheduled for September 28-October 4.

“I enjoy participating in adaptive sports.  I did shot-put in high school, and so I look forward to competing at the Warrior Games in that sport, as well as sitting volleyball and archery,” Erin said.  “It’s been a great confidence boost, encouraging me to exercise and stay in shape after my injury. Reconnecting with the family of other Service members, experiencing that camaraderie again has also been wonderful.”

Stay tuned to the blog, as well as Facebook and Twitter (@WarriorCare) for ongoing coverage of adaptive sports and Warrior Games events!