WASHINGTON -- A Navy wounded warrior, who was told his leg was unsalvagable, participated in a shooting training camp at the Lakeshore Foundation in Homewood, Ala., April 18 - 20.
The training camp was an opportunity for retired Navy Aviation Electrician's Mate Steven Davis and seven other members of Team Navy, to sharpen their skills in advance of the 2013 Warrior Games, which kick off May 11 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
It was coordinated by Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) - Safe Harbor, the Navy's support program for seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen. "I am excited to represent my branch of service [at the Warrior Games], of course, but just to compete at that level and compete against other servicemembers will be great," said Davis, who has a lower-body impairment. "When I was retired from the Navy I lost all of that camaraderie with all my buddies, and I miss that. And now that I'm back in it, I am bonding with my teammates and I can't wait to meet the other teams at the Games." Davis joined the Navy shortly after high school, hoping to travel and see the world. Like his four brothers, he has always been athletic and a devout sports fan. Davis previously tried out for All-Navy baseball and made it through the second round of trials before having to withdraw due to deployment work-ups.
After a motorcycle accident in 2008, he sustained significant injuries to his right leg and hip, as well as numerous internal wounds. "The doctors said I would never walk again, and I couldn't even get out of bed for six or seven months after my accident," said Davis. "I was basically told my leg was unsalvageable." Approximately two years after his accident, Davis's brother encouraged him return to the gym and test his capabilities. With time, Davis strengthened his leg, left his wheelchair behind and began walking with a cane. Eventually, he abandoned his cane, as well as the subsequent knee brace, and he currently walks with the aid of an ankle-foot orthosis. However, he suffered a set-back when blood stopped circulating in his right heel and it became necrotic. He underwent multiple surgeries and still cannot stand on his foot for long periods of time. Last year, after following the 2012 Paralympics from his home television, Davis developed an interest in adaptive athletics but wasn't sure how to become involved. Two weeks later, he received an unexpected call from a member of the NWW transition team, who was reaching out to retired wounded warriors to address any outstanding needs. They discussed his athletic ambitions, and a month later Davis received an invitation to attend the Wounded Warrior Pacific Trials in Honolulu, Hawaii. "For the longest time, I was doing nothing. I would go to the gym and then go home and play video games and watch TV," said Davis. "Adaptive athletics has opened my eyes so much. If I am not at a [NWW] sports camp, I am practicing with my wheelchair basketball team. My family definitely has noticed a difference in me." After trying his hand at virtually every sport at Pacific Trials, Davis was selected for the 2013 Team Navy, which will compete at the upcoming Warrior Games. Next month, he will go head-to-head with other wounded warriors in seated volleyball, shooting, swimming and wheelchair basketball. Since the Pacific Trials, Davis has connected with the Sacramento Royals, a semi-pro National Wheelchair Basketball Association Division 3 team, which was established within the past year. Team Navy's wheelchair basketball coach Grant Moorhead linked Davis with the Royals' point guard in January. Even though his first meeting with the Royals marked only the second time Davis had played wheelchair basketball, he was drafted as the team's starting power forward. "I am the only person on the team who has been playing wheelchair basketball for less than five years," Davis said. "Playing at that level of competition makes me try harder and it brings out the competitive side of me, as well." Davis's ultimate goal is to compete at the Paralympics, perhaps as early as 2014. In the meantime, however, the Royals continue to excel, and he hopes the team will reach Division 1 - the highest level of wheelchair basketball within the United States. Sports, he said, are his primary focus right now; he is having a wonderful time traveling the country and developing his skills. "My youngest brother is 11 years old, and I just try to be a positive influence on him," said Davis. "He loves sports too, and after seeing me play wheelchair basketball, he said, 'I want to play basketball, too!'" NWW coordinates the non-medical care of more than 1,000 seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, and provides resources and support to their families. The program is a department of Fleet and Family Support within Commander, Navy Installations Command. All enrollees in NWW are encouraged to make athletics - which has proven healing benefits - a key component of their recovery plans.