COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 19, 2012) – USA Volleyball (USAV) has been awarded one of the 97 grants given by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs in support of Paralympic sport and physical activity programs for disabled veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces.
On Oct. 18 the USOC announced that USAV would be awarded a $25,000 grant to fund the growth and development of emerging injured military and veteran athletes with the goal of getting more of these athletes into the sitting volleyball pipeline.
USA Volleyball created the A2 sitting volleyball program to give military athletes identified at various U.S. Paralympic military sports clinics and camps the opportunity to train toward qualifying for the national team. In 2009, with the support of U.S. Paralympics, USAV brought together a number of athletes for a training camp to demonstrate the value of providing an opportunity to learn the techniques and strategies employed by the national team.
From 2010-2012, USAV was given $20,000 per season in grant money from U.S. Paralympics thanks to funding from the Department of Defense (DoD) to continue supporting emerging/elite military athletes in pursuit of reaching the national teams in their respective sports.
To this point the A2 sitting volleyball program has had 29 active duty and veteran military members participate in 12 training camps all possible through the grant. In addition, the grant has allowed for the A2 team to travel to Toronto to compete in exhibition matches with a team from Canada and to travel to San Antonio with the Army’s Warrior Games Sitting Volleyball Team to host a clinic at Brooke Army Medical Center to introduce the game to other military members.
Master Sgt. Ed O’Neil (Edmond, Okla.), who is currently on the U.S. Men's National Sitting Volleyball Team, began his career in the A2 program. Other non-military national team members who also participated on the A2 Team include Kaleo Kanahele (Oklahoma City, Okla.), Monique Burkland (Ardmore, Okla./UCO Resident Athlete), Angela DeHaan (Yuba City, Calif.), Nicky Nieves (Queens, N.Y.), Bethany Zummo (Dublin, Calif./UCO Resident Athlete), and Charlie Swearigen (Gulfport, Miss.).
Four training camps are planned for 2013 with hopes to send one or two teams from the program to the USA Volleyball Open National Championships to help kick off the sitting volleyball division next year. .
To read the complete USOC release, click here.