Story by MCSA Carla Ocampo
Photo by MC2 Jonathen Davis

Stennis works as a team to keep Stennis running smoothly so it can project its power across the world; however, this seven-month deployment Sailors will be teaming up to also project another form of power: athleticism and sportsmanship.

Soccer and basketball teams are currently being formed to play against our host nations during port visits. Along with Morale, Welfare, Recreation (MWR) tours, and community service. Sailors can unite with people from different cultures and lifestyles through something they both have in common: sports.

“Sports are universal; they help bridge the gap between our host nations and build a strong bond,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/ AW) Rodel Salazar, Stennis’ sports team coordinator. “It helps them see us in a different light.”

Not only will participating in sports help improve relations with other countries, but within the command as well. Being a part of a command team is a great opportunity for Sailors to show off their skills and do something outside of their normal day-to-day activities.

“It gives Sailors the opportunity to experience something different and meet new people,” said Salazar. “It allows Sailors to work as a team outside of the working environment.”

Command sports can help junior Sailors step into unique leadership roles that are not available working aboard an aircraft carrier.

“As a coach I’m in charge of a team of at least 15 people,” said Aviation Machinist’s Mate Airman Ryan Hood, Stennis’ soccer team assistant coach. “Coaching has definitely helped me be a better leader. I’ve’ played soccer all my life so I wanted to use the experience for when I’m a coach outside the Navy.”

Sports are still just a game and a lot of fun for Sailors who want to escape the daily routine of deployment life can join a team and play.

“It’s a huge morale builder, many Sailors are gifted athletes and for different reasons are now in the military. Command sports gives them the opportunity to play,” said Salazar.

The opportunity is open to all hands. Anybody with the desire to play is welcome to attend meetings. Even though there will be little opportunity for practice aboard the ship it’s still a great way for Sailors to enjoy themselves in friendly competition.

Playing soccer and basketball with other nations is an opportunity for Sailors to enjoy recreation while serving their country overseas during deployment.