Track in Tampa: Day 3

Tony Holland at wheelchair basketball

Tony Holland at wheelchair basketball

March 13, 2012

TAMPA, Fla. – Good evening from Florida, Pam Flenke here once again, wrapping up our third day in Tampa. Today proved to be the most eventful of the days so far, so I should have lots to talk about!

The day started off the same as yesterday, hitting the motel breakfast bar before heading over to USF for a morning workout. We were greeted by another cloudless sky and temperatures starting off in the 70s before reaching mid-80s by the end of the day.

By the time our practice session was winding down around 11, the track started to get a little crowded with athletes from USF, Marquette and Louisville using the facilities as well. Our kids got a sneak peak of their competition on Friday…intense!

The plan post-practice was to head to Clearwater for the beach, so we swung by Wal-Mart on the way back to the motel to grab some beach essentials ($4 beach towel…best bargain out there) before departing just before noon.

I got behind the wheel for the first time this week, with my van once again filled with jumpers and sprinters. After getting stuck in traffic for a little bit, we made it to Clearwater in about 80 minutes.

The beach was busy with spring breakers, families and locals enjoying a flawless day. The water was calm (no waves like in San Juan!) and not too cold, while there was a ton to do outside of swimming and sunbathing. A bunch of cadets hit the restaurants and boardwalk in our limited 90-minute stay.

After soaking up the rays we headed back towards Tampa at 2:30 to be back in time for the 4:00 curfew. All the cadets checked in with their coaches when we got back while I hit the taco stand down the street.

At 6 p.m., a group of about 30 of us went to a community center a few miles away to play a game of wheelchair basketball against a team consisting of veterans, Wounded Warriors, and disabled gentlemen from the community. After talking with the team’s coach I learned they had been together for about four years after the local VA and community decided to form a team, which plays not only around Florida but across the country.

Everyone had a great time – it was definitely an experience to remember. Cadets played against the men’s team for a couple periods before playing each other to wrap up our stay. Special credit to Justin Harris for getting absolutely demolished after scrambling in his chair after a loose ball...wheelchair basketball is definitely a full-contact sport.

After the games, Army Officer Representative Col. Toole and team captains Taylor Kensy and Christie Johnson spoke briefly, before the team gave the men’s team Army track t-shirts and hats. Both sides really appreciated the evening.

After the games the vans split up for dinner before heading back to the motel to wrap up the night. It’s looking like another sunny and busy day tomorrow, so be sure to check back in to see what Army track & field is up to!

Pam Flenke, Army Athletic Communications, Track & Field Contact

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