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Intramural sports play important role in Airmen fitness

Senior Airman Patrick Ware, center, a 28th Communication Squadron cyber transport technician, gets into position so a teammate can pass him the ball at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Dec. 6, 2017. Intramural sports provide an outlet for Airmen to stay active and socialize with others around the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Senior Airman Patrick Ware, center, a 28th Communication Squadron cyber transport technician, gets into position so a teammate can pass him the ball at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Dec. 6, 2017. Intramural sports provide an outlet for Airmen to stay active and socialize with others around the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Airman 1st Class Rylee Boyd-jablonski, left, a 28th Communication Squadron knowledge management technician, keeps a soccer ball away from defenders at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., March 7, 2018. Intramural sports provide an outlet for Airmen to stay active and socialize with others around the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Airman 1st Class Rylee Boyd-jablonski, left, a 28th Communication Squadron knowledge management technician, keeps a soccer ball away from defenders at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., March 7, 2018. Intramural sports provide an outlet for Airmen to stay active and socialize with others around the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Senior Airman Jordan Combs, a 28th Bomb Wing administration journeyman, dribbles a soccer ball past a defender at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., March 7, 2018. Intramural sports provide an outlet for Airmen to stay active and socialize with others around the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Senior Airman Jordan Combs, a 28th Bomb Wing administration journeyman, dribbles a soccer ball past a defender at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., March 7, 2018. Intramural sports provide an outlet for Airmen to stay active and socialize with others around the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Airman 1st Class Joseph Chambers, a 28th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller apprentice, moves past a defender on his way down the basketball court at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Dec. 6, 2017. Intramural sports provide an outlet for Airmen to stay active and socialize with others around the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Airman 1st Class Joseph Chambers, a 28th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller apprentice, moves past a defender on his way down the basketball court at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Dec. 6, 2017. Intramural sports provide an outlet for Airmen to stay active and socialize with others around the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --

The buzzer sounds and the players take to the basketball court inside the Bellamy Fitness Center. A whistle pierces the brief silence and the game begins. On the other side of the base, Airmen sprint across the Pride Hangar soccer field in an attempt to score a last minute goal. Loose specks of turf fly up as the athletes storm down the field, weaving between defenders to position a strike.

Airmen are currently competing in athletic tournaments at Ellsworth Air Force Base thanks to the intramural sports program. Scheduled for different times throughout the year, eight sports – racquetball, soccer, volleyball, golf, softball, flag football, basketball and bowling -- are offered through the program and over 550 Airmen participate annually.

Aside from the social aspect, engaging in sports also enables Airmen to stay healthy and active. Participants typically meet three times a week to practice, scrimmage and improve their skills.

“It helps me to keep up with my fitness,” said Airman 1st Class Victor Diaz, a 28th Security Forces Squadron response force member. “When I play with other Airmen from my squadron, it makes me push myself harder.”

Diaz also said it helps him maintain the four pillars of Comprehensive Airmen Fitness.

“It helps me to socialize, think, build my endurance and keep my spirits up,” he explained. “Basketball is definitely a great workout, and it keeps me focused.”

In addition to dribbling a basketball, Airmen now have the opportunity to dribble a soccer ball. Twelve squadrons and over 100 Airmen are currently participating in intramural soccer. Included in their numbers is Staff Sgt. Ashlei Philson, a 28th Bomb Wing equal opportunity adviser.

This is not the first base Philson played intramural sports at. She decided to continue to take advantage of the program and its benefits.

“This is my first season here at this base, and I like the camaraderie involved with playing with people I work with,” Philson expressed. “It’s also a great way to network with other individuals from around the base, which creates opportunities for the future.”

While stationed at Minot AFB, North Dakota, Philson played soccer, softball and also coached at the youth center. After moving to Ellsworth AFB eight months ago, she decided to get involved in intramural sports to better acclimate herself to the base and community.

“It’s a great way to see a new base and the people who live and work there,” Philson stated. “Intramural sports are especially useful to new Airmen who are trying to find out about their first duty station.”

The intramural sports program is free to anyone with base access and is open to new participants throughout the year.

“I’m glad to be a part of intramural sports,” Nicholson said. “They help a lot of individuals and it’s nice to see it positively impact people.”

For additional information or to sign up for intramural sports, visit the Bellamy Fitness Center or call (605) 385-2265.