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Nellis Airmen aspire for AF level sports
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Yarbrough Bloomfield III, 99th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle dispatcher, lines up at the track starting line Sept. 11, 2013, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Bloomfield ran track in high school and is training to run the 100 meter dash for the Air Force team next summer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hughes)
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Airmen train, dream of making Air Force-level teams

Posted 9/27/2013   Updated 9/27/2013 Email story   Print story

    


by Senior Airman Daniel Hughes
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


9/27/2013 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.  -- An approved Air Force form 303 can launch the athletic career of an aspiring Airman- athlete and lead to a slot on official Air Force teams.

Larry Bridges, Nellis' Warrior Fitness Center sports director reviews these athletic resumes and helps choose elite athletes who will receive dedicated training, and possibly represent every Airman during national competitions.

"Not every Airmen who submits [the AF Form 303] makes it," Bridges said, "But every once in a while, I get the chance to see a tremendous athlete. Nellis [AFB] has great Airmen and great athletes."

Bridges notes the potential for an Airman who runs track to have a great chance of making the Air Force team and possibly making the U.S. Olympic team. He also recognizes the skill of a basketball player who executed a successful windmill dunk at a team U.S.A. basketball game at the Thomas and Mack Center, University of Las Vegas, July 25 in front of spectators and professional players, who is trying out for the Air Force basketball team.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Yarbrough Bloomfield III, 99th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle dispatcher, can run a 100-meter dash in 10.1 seconds and is training to do it for the Air Force track and field team.

"I've been running my whole life," Bloomfield said. "I was fast as a [child] and everyone always picked me because of my speed. My cousins used to set up races for me with [children] on the block, and I would literally have [children] that I didn't even know get mad at me before I raced them because of how much my cousins talked me up."

Bloomfield, who hails from the small town of Canton, Miss., said he feelt like he wasn't supposed to make it out of there.

"There are gangs, drugs, and education isn't a priority," Bloomfield said. "You don't make it out and succeed."

Bloomfield's drive comes from remembering where he came from and aspiring to reach his dream of joining the Air Force team and participating on the U.S. Olympic team.

Bloomfield uses Air Force facilities, training five days a week for about three-to-four hours a day at the Warrior Fitness Center.

"When the day comes when I tryout, I want to be proud of my effort," Bloomfield said. "I don't care if I come in last with a broken leg. I will cross that finish line, and I will give everything I have."

"From what I have seen, Bloomfield is a special talent," Bridges said. "I hope he does well and is able represents Nellis [at the Air Force level]."

Senior Airman Nathaniel Mills, 99th Security Forces Squadron patrolman traces his passion for basketball to watching the Chicago Bulls in 1995 with his father. He saw his father's reactions to the big dunks of Michael Jordan, and he wanted to be able to do the same thing.

"From that day on I played ball, whether it be beautiful outside or raining, sleeting [or] snowing," Mills said. "I didn't care; I just wanted to play. I wanted to be better."

In high school, Mills just wanted to touch the rim, and during his sophomore year, he did just that. The following year, he had a growth spurt and was able to dunk.

"It was during a game and [another] player tossed me a pass, and I dunked it," Mills said. "I knew it was a little dunk, but at the time, I felt like Jordan."

When Mills joined the Air Force, he wasn't going to put basketball on the back burner, but his obligation was to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. So he would always try to practice and play when he was off duty, but that commitment would be tested when he got orders for a deployment.

"When I was deployed, I was upset because my daughter was just born, and I felt I had missed the first milestones of her life," Mills said. "I had to go, so I did my job the best I could. Where I was had a basketball hoop, so I made a promise to myself. Every night that I was off duty, I would shoot 400 shots and practice dribbling."

He figured if he practiced when he got back, he would be able to try out for the Air Force team and found different ways to increase his skills.

"I found old chairs, pieces of wood and I would make defenders out of them," Mills said.

Mills received a call from the coaches of the Air Force basketball team a couple days after the USA Basketball game at the Thomas and Mack Center asking if he was going to try out for the team this year.

"[I told the Air Force Basketball coaches] it is a goal of mine to play for the team," Mills said. "Being able to play at a very competitive level and represent the Air Force would be an honor I wouldn't take lightly."

The road these two Airmen have traveled to try out for Air Force teams have been different. The hurdles are high for both because of low acceptance rates
"Gold medals aren't really made of gold," said Dan Gable, retired wrestling Olympic Gold Medalist. "They're made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts."



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