One team, one fight
By Amn Michaela R. Slanchik, 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs / Published December 16, 2016
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
Joining the Air Force isn’t just a job. It is an oath, a commitment to a set of values, a lifestyle. However, this doesn’t mean that Airmen shouldn’t have hobbies outside of work.
For some, this meant becoming part of the Whiteman Air Force Base varsity traveling basketball team and building relationships while participating in something they’re passionate about.
“I think Airmen get a sense of belonging at work in the Air Force, but outside of work they need to feel a belonging too,” said Master Sgt. Douglas Potts, the 509th Operations Support Squadron NCO in charge of air traffic control training and the team’s head coach. “They also get to travel to other bases to represent Whiteman, again solidifying a belonging and desire to do great things in the name of a larger community. These players work hard to get to where they are, and are proud to represent their home base.”
Out of the 35 who tried out for Whiteman’s varsity basketball team, 14 Airmen made the cut. The team travels to various local Army and Air Force installations within the north division of the central U.S. military basketball league to compete for the championship title. The team plays four games each weekend they travel, totaling 28 games throughout the six-month-long season.
Some picked it up as a hobby recently, whereas others have been playing competitively for years.
“I have been playing basketball ever since I was in the seventh grade,” said Senior Airman Isaac Moore, a weapons load crew member from the 509th Maintenance Group and a varsity basketball team member. “I first started playing for the base team back in 2014. Basketball teaches you a form of discipline and how to work with a group in order to fulfil a certain goal.”
As with any team, it takes time to learn how to effectively work with new team members to accomplish a mission.
“It's nice to see them come together and play as a team as the season progresses, instead of trying to be a one-man show like the beginning of the season,” said Potts. “Seeing the successes of the players and watching them get better throughout the season is rewarding. It's a great feeling winning a game, but when we lose, we take it as a learning experience.”
This teamwork, along with effective coaching, has proven to pay off by winning four games together so far.
“Coaching has a pretty direct correlation to being a senior NCO,” said Potts. “Building a team is taking a group of individuals and bringing them together to accomplish a common goal, which is much like the Airmen we have today in the Air Force–different backgrounds, experiences and drive, coming together to make the mission happen. For this team, the mission is winning basketball games.”
Whiteman’s team hopes to make another win on Feb. 25, 2017, when they host fellow service members at the next home game.
“It is very interesting and exciting to play against other service members and see all the talent across our military,” said Moore. “It is great playing with fellow service members because I have formed bonds and friendships that will last a lifetime.”