MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Over the past year, Cherry Point has hosted multiple All-Marine competitions and camps from softball to basketball. For the fourth consecutive year, Cherry Point will host the 2011 Armed Forces Volleyball Tournament today through April 16.
“Each branch of service is subject to host the armed forces tournament for four years, then it will move to another location of a different branch,” said Gil George, the assistant athletic director for Cherry Point. “This year will be the last time for some time that we host the armed forces tournament for volleyball.”
The men’s and women’s teams held the tryout camp over the last few weeks and have made their picks on who will compete on the indoor and beach teams.
“In addition to the indoor competition being for medals,” said George, “this will be the first year that the beach competitors will be awarded medals as well.”
George said last year’s beach competition was just an experimental run to see how competitors felt about adding it to the competition.
“This year’s beach teams will compete for not only the gold,” said Matt H. Lara, the All-Marine beach volleyball coach, “but the best men and women’s team will represent the armed forces at the 2011 World Military Games.”
The World Military Games will take place in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, July 12-25.
“After the armed forces teams are selected they will, unlike other years, go back to their respective duty stations and will return July 2,” said George. “This is because the international tournament usually takes place a few weeks after the end of armed forces. With the later start dates we are having them go home then come back.”
The coaches have a few weeks before the teams will start competing in the tournament, and the teams are ready to go.
“I love this sport,” said Lopaz E. Swain, one of the selectees for the men’s All-Marine Team. “I am excited to be competing in this event for my fifth overall season. I’ve been a part of a gold medal team, and I know this team has what it takes to win.”
Swain said the thing they need to do to win is run a smooth combination of offense to defense.
“I see it already this team has great chemistry and shows a lot of teamwork and heart,” said Swain.
Peter P. Cruz will be coaching the 2011 men’s All-Marine team this year with three of the key pieces of his 2008 gold medal team.
“The galaxies are aligning for the team this year,” said Cruz. “We had nine players come out for the camp this year, but all my missing pieces from the 2008 team are replaced by guys that are equal in talent, experience and power. I expect gold from my team.”
The women are coached by Nyla James who was the assistant coach for the 2010 women’s armed forces team that competed in the 2010 international tournament here at Cherry Point.
“Our team looks great,” said James. “We will definitely be more competitive than last year. We have a strong defense and will work on our offense to make sure we win gold.”
James said the team has six women returning from previous years and six rookies to round out this scrappy and competitive team.
“I got to meet the women’s team at the basketball tournament,” said Col. Philip J. Zimmerman, the commanding officer of Cherry Point. “They’re all excited and ready to bring the gold to the Marine Corps.”
Zimmerman said he feels events like this help bring together not only the Marine Corps, but the armed forces as a whole.
“The armed forces tournaments are a good outreach for military service members,” said Zimmerman. “Through sports we interact and learn about people. This helps here on the home front bring our services together. When we compete against other nations it helps us learn about their culture and ways.”