Thursday, August 23, 2012

TOP STORY>>Resilient teamwork helps Airmen capture championship

By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Trailing 18-6 in the semifinals of the Cabot Parks and Recreation flag football league playoffs, Staff Sgt. Chris Young, a 314th Airlift Wing client service technician and coach of the team No Mercy, knew his team needed to make changes to win, and knew they needed to make them quickly.

Young and his team could be forgiven if they reacted desperately to the adversity. After all, they were up against a two-time defending champion in the league, a team which hadn’t lost a game all year. Momentum, which begets the confidence and braggadocio so important to competitors, was against them.

Despite the odds, No Mercy rebounded, huddled together as a team, formed a plan and unsheathed on their competition the rest of the game, defeating the previously unbeaten team 25-18. The come-from-behind-victory was a harbinger of the championship game, which No Mercy won 21-12 against a team that not only beat them twice in the regular season, but beat them so badly the games were cut short due to the “mercy rule.”

“They beat us bad the first two games,” said Young. “I think they were a little surprised by the way we played in the championship.”

While crediting an improved defensive game plan for the victories and championship, Young said the team wouldn’t have emerged as champions if he hadn’t listened to the advice of some of his teammates, who helped make a winning game plan.

“I felt we really gelled as a team in the playoffs, specifically in the last two games,” said Young. “I can’t take the credit or say it was one person. We came together as a team and everybody played their part.”

No Mercy is a 13-man team, 11 of whom are active military members at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Young, who played football in high school and flag football for 13 years, the last three in the Cabot league, said this year’s team was unlike any other he’s been on because of the camaraderie.

“The difference between our team and any other team out there is that after every game we huddled together,” he said. “We talked about the bad, and we talked about the good.”

The team used those post-game huddles to air grievances, and to make sure everyone on the team got a chance to speak their mind, while building camaraderie. “We would be out there after the games for 30 minutes sometimes, just talking,” said Young.

Having a strong bond and being open to communication is what allowed the team to resiliently fight back from deficits in the playoffs, particularly in the semifinal and championship game. In sports, pride often erects un-scalable barriers between teammates, and Young is certain the team wouldn’t have persevered if they hadn’t learned to talk, and more importantly, listen to each other.

“One of my teammates, Eric Baugh, is the one who suggested changing the game plan during the semi-final matchup,” said Young. “Because we were so close as a team, he was comfortable pulling me aside and talking to me when we were losing.”

Talking helped the team come together, and coming together as a team after they squeaked into the playoffs with a 6-4 record is what helped them win the championship, said Young.

“There’s nothing better than to see a team gel together. When a team comes together, you realize that there’s nothing you can’t accomplish,” he said.

The championship was dually special for Young, not only because he’d been on the team for three years, but because this year was his final year with No Mercy. Young is moving to Utah, and said he’s going to retire from flag football.

“I loved the team we had, and I wish I would be here to do it again next year,” he said.

“These guys really pulled together. We’ve been playing for three years trying to win the championship, and we did it. It was good to win the championship in my last game.”

The roster of the No Mercy flag football team:

Airman 1st Class Daveon Allen

Staff Sgt. Tony Allen

Staff Sgt. Eric Baugh

Airman 1st Class Charles Bise

Anthony Bizzell

Airman 1st Class Darrius Deener

Senior Airman Atarius Framer

Dale Gray

Senior Airman Fatez Radford

Senior Airman Bryan Wails

Staff Sgt. Evan Walker,

Senior Airman Andre Westmoreland - Asst. Coach

Staff Sgt. Christopher Young - Coach

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