May 2nd, 2013 | Air Force | Posted by Oriana Pawlyk
Most of these guys are retired or out of the service, but they still answer the call — for a different kind of duty.
Two teams of 27 volleyball players from all over the country will represent the Air Force later this month in a pair of masters division teams at the U.S. Open Volleyball Championships in Louisville, Ky.
“Living so far away from each other now, we do not get the chance to practice together,” said James Garrido, the teams’ representative and former staff sergeant who hails from Savannah, Ga.
“Most of us have played together on past Air Force teams, so like riding a bike, once we get together everything comes rushing back and we fall right back in line like we’ve been together all this time,” he said.
Garrido, who plays in the 40-over division, said being selected to the All Air Force team is like wearing a badge of honor that all the team members share.
“I compare it to the boys and girls you are deployed with for long stretches. You may not remember all of them when you return, but you will remember some of them for the rest of your life,” he said.
For him, the alumni team is just the beginning. Garrido hopes they can convince some of the other service members to start their own service teams to play at the championships.
“I foresee a time when we can all get together at the Open and replay some of the great Air Force vs. Army clashes of the 80s and Air Force vs. Navy games of the 90s…this time around we not only meet as competitors, but as brothers and friends,” he said.
The volleyball championships will take place May 24-29. There are 30 different male and female divisions with around 500 teams and more than 4,000 players.
The Air Force alumni teams — competing in the 40-over and 50-over divisions — will be playing in the first session May 24 to 26.