Base sports teams heighten competition

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shane M. Phipps
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
Comprised of people from all walks of life, and from all over the nation, the Air Force is a boiling cauldron of intellectuals, artists and athletes.

For athletes who find their way into the Air Force ranks, displaying their physical prowess on a competitive stage can be continued through the various varsity sports teams on base.

"These teams are different from intramurals because you get a higher level of competition than what the intramural league can offer," said Salvador Rodriguez, 30th Force Support Squadron sports coordinator. "You also have to be more dedicated and willing to put in some time to practice consistently as opposed to just showing up on game days for intramurals, and there is usually a higher sense of wanting to win as opposed to intramural where some teams are just out there for fun. Also, with the base teams you get a chance to travel to other locations to play your opponents instead of just playing here at Vandenberg."

Currently, Vandenberg offers a men's varsity soccer team, men's softball team, men's basketball team, and recently -- women's basketball team.

"Two other girls, and I, actually started the women's basketball team," said Senior Airman Shaylynn Nazario, 30th Security Forces Squadron patrolman. "I figured there were enough girls who would actually play. I played college ball and the competition for this is definitely up there. Intramurals is for fun and for your squadron, but with this we represent the whole base."

In addition to providing a healthy outlet for Airmen, the competitive nature of the varsity teams encourages a high level of physical fitness.

"By keeping the participants active, it really puts an emphasis on Air Force fitness," said Rodriguez. "Sometimes, sports are the main form of exercise some of our base participants get. I can't really speak for the other varsity sports teams, but I know from just being in the fitness center daily, that the men's basketball team gets a heavy dose of conditioning every practice."

Athletes who have transitioned from high-school, or collegiate sports, into the Air Force - often miss being a part of an organized sports team and are eager to try-out for a base varsity squad.

"I love playing basketball for the base team," said Staff Sgt. Tyler Cerney, men's varsity basketball player. "Ever since I joined the military, I've missed playing organized ball and this is an opportunity to continue at a competitive level. Lots of guys who've played on our team in the past, have even gone on to play college ball -- so it's a great opportunity for guys in the Air Force to hone their skills and prepare themselves for the college level, or even higher."

Building a network of collegiate connections, the coach for the men's basketball team is dedicated to helping players realize their potential and live-out possible dreams.

"It is an important outlet because active duty members get an opportunity to realize their personal dream of playing at a high level of competitive basketball," said Sherman Vernon, men's varsity basketball coach. "The men's varsity basketball team has an additional component for those athletes who want to go steps further, like go to college and participate in athletics and academics. During the time that I have been coaching, the program has been blessed with securing multiple athletic scholarships and financial aid for separating members to attend college as student athletes. Most recent was in 2014, a member of the Security Forces Squadron received a full scholarship to pursue his academic and athletic dreams."

Giving athletes a shot at their dreams, enhancing physical fitness, and building esprit de corps - the base varsity sports teams create a culture of positive self-improvement through a high-level of competition.

"It feels great to represent Vandenberg, and instead of being squadron against squadron, the whole base is behind you," said Nazario. "We really are a family. It gives you a better respect for the whole base because we go out there and try to represent Vandenberg to the best of our ability. We're new but we have a good group of girls, we're competitive and we would love everyone's support - especially for home games."

For more information on the base sports teams, contact the fitness center at 805-606-3832.