Monday, 27 May 2024

Memorial Day Brings Special Meaning at Opens

While the 90th USA Volleyball Open National Championships take place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Ohio, Memorial Day holds a special significance for the players competing in the Sitting Division and the other 482 teams participating in the Opens.

The Sitting Volleyball Division features a team from the Air Force, which includes Navy and Army disabled veterans competing under the team name adidas USA Sitting Volleyball. For these veterans, participating in this tournament on Memorial Day carries immense importance.

One of the team members, Josh Laban, expressed how meaningful it is for them to play on this special day. He mentioned that the event is a tribute to their fellow soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Lucas Purser, a member of Team Air Force, had a personal connection to Memorial Day as he was medically retired after nearly six years of service. He mentioned that the day holds a special place in his heart as he remembers a close friend who passed away.

Playing on Memorial Day holds significance for the entire team. Kristen Morris, the libero for Team Air Force, expressed how special it is to be playing on this day, surrounded by military servicemembers, as they remember and honor their fallen brothers and sisters.

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Apart from the military-affiliated teams, other sitting teams are composed of players with and without disabilities, including members of the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Sitting Volleyball Teams. The goal is to showcase the sport and promote inclusivity.

James Stuck, a member of the U.S. National Men’s Sitting Team, understands the sacrifices made by military personnel to protect the freedoms enjoyed by the United States. Having lost his right leg during a tour of duty in Iraq, he considers himself fortunate to have survived and now participate in high-level sports.

The adidas USA Sitting Team was formed through the efforts of Elliot Blake, USA Volleyball’s manager of sitting volleyball. Blake recruited Laban, who had previously contributed to Team Navy’s success in the DoD Warrior Games Sitting Volleyball competition. The adidas USA Sitting Team is grateful for the support of adidas, who provided them with full uniform kits, and they are excited to participate in the tournament.

While most disabled veterans on the adidas and Air Force teams are not eligible for Paralympic competition, their presence helps build the National Team pipeline by providing opportunities for the national team members to play and improve their game.

For Stuck, the growth of sitting volleyball and the opportunities it provides to veterans are remarkable. When he was injured, he didn’t have such opportunities, so seeing his fellow veterans come out and play is fantastic.

Although the adidas USA Sitting Team may not be focused on winning the Sitting Division at Opens, they are united in the spirit of fun, fellowship, and remembrance of fallen veterans.

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Team Air Force has gathered from all over the country to use the USA Volleyball Open National Championships as a preparation for the upcoming DoD Warrior Games. This tournament serves as a practice session to develop camaraderie, teamwork, and friendship, ensuring they are ready for the Warrior Games.

Playing in the USA Volleyball Open National Championships will be a valuable experience for the Air Force Wounded Warrior Adaptive Sports Program. It provides an opportunity for their warriors to play together as a team and compete against more experienced opponents, helping them grow and prepare for the Warrior Games.

The Air Force’s philosophy focuses on what their warriors can do rather than what they can’t do. They strive to show them the possibilities and adapt to their needs, empowering them to overcome challenges.

Kristen Morris, a former pilot in the Air Force, draws parallels between her military career and team sports. She believes that both involve teamwork, facing challenges, and depending on each other. Whether serving in the military or competing in sports, the spirit of unity prevails.

On Memorial Day, everyone comes together as one team to remember and honor those who have fallen in the line of duty while serving the USA. Regardless of the label on their chests, the values of sacrifice and patriotism are shared by all.


Q: What is the significance of Memorial Day for the teams participating in the USA Volleyball Open National Championships?
A: Memorial Day holds special meaning for the teams competing in the tournament, particularly the Sitting Division. It is a day to remember and honor the fallen soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country. The players feel a deep connection to this day and participate in the tournament as a tribute to their fellow soldiers.

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Q: How does the Air Force team prepare for the upcoming DoD Warrior Games?
A: The Air Force team sees the USA Volleyball Open National Championships as a training ground and an opportunity to build camaraderie and teamwork. They come together from different parts of the country to prepare for the Warrior Games, focusing on developing the necessary skills, friendship, and a sense of pride and brotherhood.

Q: What is the role of the adidas USA Sitting Team in the tournament?
A: The adidas USA Sitting Team comprises disabled veterans from the Navy and Army. While they may not be eligible for Paralympic competition, their presence in the tournament is integral to building the National Team pipeline. They provide an opportunity for the national team members to gain valuable playing experience and improve their game.


The USA Volleyball Open National Championships are taking place in Ohio, coinciding with Memorial Day. The Sitting Division, which includes a team from the Air Force and disabled veterans under the adidas USA Sitting Volleyball team name, holds great significance on this special day. The players recognize the sacrifices made by their fellow soldiers and participate in the tournament as a tribute to them. The tournament showcases the sport of sitting volleyball and promotes inclusivity by bringing together players with and without disabilities. The growth of the game and the opportunities it provides for veterans is celebrated, as it allows them to continue participating in high-level sports. The camaraderie, unity, and sense of purpose among the teams are evident, creating a meaningful experience for all involved.