Unit-level sports teach teamwork

Three days a week, Soldiers and civilians in six U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart units trade their uniforms for sweats after work and hit the volleyball court.

They’re part of the unit-level volleyball season, hosted by the garrison Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Sports and Fitness program, ongoing through April 22. Games are every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6:30-9:30 p.m. in the Patch Gym.

Unit-level sports improve a Soldier’s quality of life, said Matt Gilliard, USAG Stuttgart sports programmer.  “I’m doing it for the Soldiers: for morale, for cohesiveness, for them to have fun.”

Other unit-level sports include basketball, bowling, softball and flag football.

Besides improving individual skill, playing on a unit sports team also improves team cohesiveness in the office, said Pfc. Stephen Diel, captain of the Patch Health Clinic volleyball team.

“There’s much less stress,” he said. “We get to talk about [volleyball] at work, and it kind of eases the day.”

The clinic team took on the European Planning and Operations Center team April 8.

In each volleyball match, teams compete to win the best of three games; this match ended after only two.

The first game was a close-shave victory for EPOC at 25-22. The second game was almost a no-contest win for EPOC at 25-9, mostly from solid serves and keeping up a steady stream of returns.

EPOC team captain Vito Mannara attributes these skills to better organization as a whole.

“You have to play [as] a team,” said Mannara, an Italian liaison officer working for EUCOM.

Other teams include the Stuttgart garrison, Africa Command, AFRICOM 2 and Naval Special Warfare Unit 2.

As of April 26, both AFRICOM and Stuttgart were tied for first place with six match victories and one loss, followed by AFRICOM 2 with a 3-3 record, EPOC 3-4, NSWU2 2-5 and the Patch Clinic 0-6. AFRICOM also has the longest winning streak at five games in a row.

The last volleyball game of the season is scheduled for April 22, followed by the playoffs. The ultimate winner will compete in the Installation Management Command Europe tournament.

Whether or not they make it to the finals, units have a lot to benefit from signing up to play, Gilliard said.

“It’s mostly for fun, competition, bragging rights with units,” he said. “Teams play the best [when] they’re playing the team they really want to beat.”

Throughout the year, units can earn points toward winning the Commander’s Cup by participating; finishing a sports season; sending the unit sports representative to meetings; participating in garrison runs, or having member accepted into the All-Army sports program.

To participate in unit-level sports, contact your unit sports representative. Officials are needed for all sports.

For more information, call Matt Gilliard at 430-4512/civ. 0711-680-4512.