2019 was a big year for sports at Fort Hood because several new events were hosted on post to attract different kinds of athletes.
The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation hosted the Amazing Ruck Aug. 24 at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area.
Twelve teams came out to take on the 5.6 mile ruck and the five challenges along the way. Those challenges consisted of a paintball target shoot, kayaking, ropes course, rock wall climb and a mystery challenge that turned out to be eating a rocky mountain oyster (bull testicle).
Team 18, consisting of Staff Sgt. Dani Bari, Sgt. Josh Miltier, Spc. Brandon Peterson and Major David Autry, 7215th Medical Support Unit, finished in the number one spot, though no one was really a loser. There was an unusually strong sense of camaraderie amongst the contestants and even the spectators and event coordinators.
Toni Kornegay, DFMWR recreation specialist, was happy with how the very first Ruck Race turned out and believes that there is a lot of opportunity to make it bigger and better this year.
“We would definitely love to do it again next year. We have a few months to come up with more challenges. We hope to make it bigger and better next year,” Kornegay said.
Another new event hosted by the DFMWR was the Strongman Competition Aug. 17. Twenty-two competitors came out to Harvey Functional Fitness Center to test their strength in four different challenges, the atlas stones, which were sandbags filled to equal the weight of atlas stones, vehicle pull, farmer’s walk and deadlift.
The event surprised several contestants by being more challenging than they thought. The vehicle pull turned out to be a Humvee pull and several contestants thought they would be able to pull it, but found out they were very wrong. Pulling a Humvee any length is no easy task considering the vehicle weighs 5,000 pounds on its own and can carry 2,500 pounds.
The four winners were Staff Sgt. Tyler Franklin, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, in the men’s heavyweight category, Pfc. Noah Brooks, 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, was the men’s middle weight champion, Keanu Alvarado was the men’s lightweight champion and Spc. Emma Shaw, 1st Cav. Sustainment Brigade, was the champion in the women’s category.
Powerlifting has greatly impacted Shaw’s life and she jumped at the opportunity to participate in the Strongman Compeition.
“I’m very passionate about powerlifting. I had to lose a lot of weight to join the military and a big part of it was coming and lifting with my parents,” Shaw said. “It’s a pretty big part of my personality and character. It’s done a lot for me. I’ve gone through a lot. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, especially recently so this has kind of been my outlet.”
Varsity Soccer vs England
The Fort Hood Varsity Soccer Team hosted the Grenadier Guards from England Oct. 8. It had been five years since the varsity team has played a team from England. The Varsity team came out victorious, 5-1, in the friendly game, but it was more than just a game to both teams.
The Grenadier Guards had been looking forward to their trip to Texas for a while after spending a month in Belize with no real connection to the world while doing some jungle training. They had big plans including visiting the Texas State Fair and attending the University of Texas versus Oklahoma University Red River Showdown.
“We knew there were good connections to be made in Fort Hood, Oklahoma and Dallas. We’ve reached out to a load of contacts and networked and the guys in Fort Hood have been so hospitable,” Lt. Alexander Fetherston-Godley, 1st Bn. Grenadier Guards, said. “We are so in awe of the size of the camp and just how big the U.S. Army is. It really is incredible.”
They learned that the saying, “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” really is true. Fetherston-Godley had been to America before and he admitted that Texas was a completely new experience.
“Texas is a completely different part of America to the east and west coast, as well. Coming here, I’m still in awe of coming to America, the size of the cars, just the scale of everything is ramped up. It’s just incredible. This pitch, for example, is a big soccer field to be playing on,” Fetherston-Godley said. “The friendliness of people is unbelievably humbling, and we feel so privileged to be in the British Army coming over here and being hosted by you guys. The way everyone has treated us, from people we just meet going to top off gas at the station, to coming to Fort Hood, has been really amazing.”
Fort Hood’s Varsity Soccer coach, 1st Sgt. Winston Gomez, 62nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, was happy to have the opportunity to play the unit from England and meet new people who share the same passions.
“Although we are from different countries, we have a lot of things in common and tonight it’s no different,” Gomez said. “We’re here at an Army base, Army folks playing the sport we love, soccer. It’s a very special night for us to host them.”
Two new Paragolfers, received from the Stand Up and Golf Foundation, were unveiled at the Courses of Clear Creek May 17.
These new machines are all-terrain standing sports wheelchairs allowing golfers, with mobility challenges, to easily move around the course. It’s most impressive feature is its ability to bring the rider from a seated position to a standing position allowing them to take a swing from a more natural position. It uses seatbelts and straps to keep the rider secure and is virtually tip over-proof.
To open the ceremony, III Corps and Fort Hood senior enlisted advisor Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Hendrex introduced two guest speakers, retired Spc. JP Lane and Anthony Netto, Paragolfer co-inventors and Stand Up and Golf Foundation founders.
Netto uses a wheelchair and has been very involved in the adaptive sports communities for close to 30 years. Through his foundation he travels around the country training amateur golfers and professionals how to use the game of golf as therapy.
Golfers 5 feet 2 inches tall to 6 feet 4 inches tall, with or without legs, can use the Paragolfer to play the game they love.
“The fact that we have people even paying attention to technology like this and designing technology that allows so many veterans who have been injured or paralyzed to stand up again and be able to golf using this technology is insane,” Lane said. “It blows my mind and I’m an engineer.”
The Paragolfers has opened doors and allows golf to be a possible therapy for veterans who may have mobility challenges were it may have not been before.
“It allows us to almost escape what our normal lives have become for a minute, for a day, for an afternoon or whatever, and enjoy life the way we could have or should have enjoyed it prior to our injuries,” Lane said.
The Courses of Clear Creek golf course manager Chris Osborne was happy to accept the Paragolfers and make the course more accessible for wounded and injured Soldiers, veterans and retirees.
“It’s fabulous to have them here at the course,” Osborne said. “It opens up new avenues for golfers who would not normally come out here to come out here and experience the game of golf and learn to play and then be able to enjoy themselves on the golf course.”
Shoemaker vs Harker Heights
The Grey Wolves beat the Knights in overtime, 27-21, securing their third-place district standing and forcing the Knights to travel to their first playoff game.
The Grey Wolves hadn’t made a playoff appearance since 2015 and they were beyond excited for the opportunity to show their resilience.
Head Coach Toby Foreman, in his third season with the Grey Wolves, was ecstatic to have the opportunity to head into the playoffs.
“It means a lot. It means we get to continue our season,” Foreman said. “These kids deserve it. We didn’t play our best game tonight at all. That’s partially my fault, but it’ll be fixed. I’m proud of the resiliency of these kids. They never said die the whole year. It feels like we’ve been in an overtime game every week.”
Though they struggled to keep up with the Grey Wolves in the first half the Knights came back in the second and tied the score 21-21 in the third quarter. The score was 28, 28 when the clock ran out and the game went into overtime.
The Knights had the ball first and got close enough to attempt a field goal, but the kick was no good. The Grey Wolves took hold of the opportunity and junior running back Devin Brown ran it in ending the game.
None of the Grey Wolves had played in a playoff game before and they were ready for the new experience.
“There were some positives, I’m not going to lie. We completed deep ball for the first time in a while, but for the most part the kids are about to go into uncharted territory,” Foreman said. “There’s not one person in our program that has played in a playoff game. It’ll be a new experience, but you know if you want to get to the top, you’ve got to climb one rock at a time and this is just the next rock that’s in front of us.”
They took on the Mesquite Skeeters in the first round, but fell 52-6.
Lampasas versus Carthage
The Lampasas Badgers had an incredible season, making it all the way to the semifinal round in the playoffs.
Finishing the season 13-2, it had been several years since Lampasas had made it so far into the playoffs and the community of Lampasas was hungry for a championship.
Fans came by the hundreds to their playoff games supporting the Badgers until the end.
Their final game against Carthage was the biggest nail biter of the season and had both sides on the edge of their seat.
Right before halftime Lampasas had the lead 20-14. However in a last second risky play Carthage intercepted and ran it in for a touchdown taking the lead 21-20 at halftime.
“I got greedy at the end of the half trying to throw a hail Mary, you know, from way back and of course they ended up picking it and running it back for a touchdown,” Lampasas head coach Troy Rogers said. “That’s obviously the difference in the game so that was my mistake, bad call, I’d love to have that one back.”
Both teams were scoring back and forth in the second half, but in the end Carthage came out on top.
For Rogers it’s only the beginning for the Badgers. With several key players returning they hope to go all the way next season.
“We’re still building and this is a great go at it this year and we’re going to enjoy this journey that we’ve had and continue to keep building,” Rogers said.
Looking toward 2020
This year offered up new events and new experiences, setting a high bar for 2020.