ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. – An Ellsworth Airman was recently selected to attend the All-Air Force Men's Basketball team trials for the first time since 2005.
Staff Sgt. Rawlinson Santaella, a crew chief assigned to the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, is competing against 29 other Airmen for a spot on the team during final tryouts held from Oct. 15-30 at Lackland AFB, Texas.
According to Armed Forces Sports, athletes selected for specialized training must participate in trial camps or departmental-level Air Force Championship events.
“It takes a lot of time and effort,” Santaella said. “I often thought about it but never saw myself actually doing it, it was always just a dream I had; now I’m pursuing it.”
Trial camps are short in duration, but physically demanding, mentally challenging and highly competitive.
“It helps to have people who have played on the Air Force team support you and write recommendation letters,” Santaella said. “Besides that, just being able to show where you’ve played [before] with either newspaper clips, or the name of the college [helps with the selection process].”
If Santaella makes the 12-man roster, he will represent the Air Force at the 2016 Armed Forces Championship Oct. 31 – Nov. 8 at U.S. Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.
“He deserves it, Santaella is one of the best players here,” said Staff Sgt. Marwin Luna, a phase support craftsman assigned to the 28th Maintenance Squadron. “Even when we deployed to Al Udeid [Air Base, Quatar] he was one of the best players there.”
Santaella mentioned how everywhere he would go, people would tell him how he should try out for the Air Force team and so after much encouragement, he decided to dedicate time and effort towards being selected.
“[This] is more of a personal accomplishment, not many people get selected to even try out,” Santaella said. “Just being able to try out and show them what I have is an achievement on its own. If I make the team, then awesome, I made it. If not, it is still a triumph.”
“I think this is pretty big for Ellsworth,” Luna said. “There are a lot of athletes here on base, and people seeing one of us make it [on the team] will motivate others to strive for greatness.”