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Drawdown, deployments and even Mother Nature, whose stinginess with snow canceled the U.S. Forces Europe ski and snowboard championships in March, lapped at the foundations of military sports in Europe in 2007. Fewer communities and individuals than ever before had the luxury of hanging around their home garrisons for an entire season.

In spite of the turbulence, however, those communities and individuals still vied for U.S. Forces Europe championships in 2007. And there was still plenty on the line when the Army and Air Force competed head to head, especially in the theater’s two most popular team sports, basketball and softball.

Army men’s champion Wiesbaden and Air Force women’s champion Ramstein won the USFE basketball events in April, although Mildenhall took Wiesbaden to an if-necessary game before bowing out.

The Army was unable to take a title in August in slow-pitch softball, as Ramstein’s men and women romped to USFE titles at Aviano, Italy. Army men’s teams didn’t win a single game against either Ramstein or U.S. Air Forces in Europe champion Spangdahlem.

Breaking the Air Force-Army stranglehold on USFE championships in April was Naples, whose three-person Navy team won the powerlifting title in Bamberg. Jim Allison topped the men’s field with a three-lift total of 1,730.61 pounds. Teammate Pamela Arvelo Marrero won the women’s title.

The year began with Ramstein’s Lorenzo Peterson romping to the 211-pound freestyle title in the USFE wrestling championships Jan. 8 in Stuttgart. Eliot Thomasma of runnerup Baumholder was the only wrestler to win gold medals in both disciplines, when he topped the freestyle and Greco-Roman fields at 264 pounds.

The Army and Air Force divvied up the USFE tennis titles in July at Heidelberg, where Darmstadt’s Roy Tannis saw his streak of three USFE singles tennis titles come to an end at the hands of Bamberg’s Jamie Rydell, at 34 almost 20 years Tannis’s junior. Spangdahlem’s Maya Pardee took the women’s crown.

And even though the team scores in the USFE track and field championships at Vilseck that same month had Giessen and Bamberg on top, the top individual performances were turned in by athletes from communities from each service. Jamie Eckford of Bamberg won the 100- and 200-meter races and the long jump. Danielle Todman of Aviano matched Eckford’s triple gold and her percentage even topped his. Of the four women’s events contested, Todman won three.

The tiny women’s field — 5,000-meter champion Jennifer May of Baumholder was the only woman in her race — was indicative of the damage that population decline has done to the competitors’ pool in Europe.

The decline was evident during the USFE boxing championships April 29 in Stuttgart. Military boxing in Europe, once the domain of future Olympic and world heavyweight champion Ray Mercer, saw just eight championships contested, all in the “novice” category for boxers with no more than 10 career bouts.

Two of the championships came in the women’s division, in which Stuttgart’s Britney Teasley helped the Stallions to the team title by capping the second week of her boxing career with a USFE featherweight title.

In endurance sports, Benjamin Martinelli of Heidelberg and Michelle Wild of Ramstein ran, biked and swam off with USFE triathlon crowns in June, and John Dreher of Heidelberg and Stephanie Feagin of Camp Darby topped the Army 10-Miler run that same month in Grafenwöhr.

Vilseck’s Shawn Deal, Ramstein’s Leslie Handy and Spangdahlem’s Martin Heinz and Ann Lincoln topped the overall standings in the USFE road cycling series’ four age-gender categories. Handy made it a double when he won the military men’s seniors title in the eight-race USFE mountain bike series. Brandon Bell of Ramstein and John Orsingher of Friedberg topped the military open and masters’ categories, respectively, and Jessica Tomazic of Schweinfurt topped the women’s field.

Drawdowns and deployments claimed the Final Four tournaments in soccer and volleyball, and in the case of the Army, with compelling reason. Just three communities sent teams to Camp Darby, Italy, in October for the Army-Europe tournament, won by Stuttgart 2-1 over a Wiesbaden team which brought just 10 players to the event. The following month, just four communities could cobble together enough players to attend the Army-Europe flag football championships at Wiesbaden, won by the home team, 14-12 over Kaiserslautern.

Darmstadt’s Jeff Hallauer summed it up for most sports in Europe after winning his fourth straight U.S. Forces Europe golf title and fifth in sixth years in July at Heidelberg.

“Like everyone else,” he said when asked whether he’d be back to try again, “I’m PCSing.”


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