New motivation fuels one Soldier’s desire to compete

| November 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

Sgt. Samuel Daniels prepares to throw the shot put during competition at the Pacific Regional Trials at Schofield Barracks, Nov. 7.

Story and photo by

Christopher Fields
Army Warrior Care and Transition
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — While assigned to the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, Sgt. Samuel Daniels helped with the setup, tear down and check-in of spectators for the Central Regional Trials.

He was not clear on what the event was, but he did see some of the practices. He didn’t think much of it, until he found himself in the Schofield Barracks Warrior Transition Battalion in December 2016 after a myriad of back problems, a herniated disc, a deteriorating disc and a pinched sciatic nerve. He has had three surgeries to correct the problems.

New appreciation
As he got involved with the WTB’s adaptive reconditioning program and learned about Warrior Games, he recalled supporting those events at Fort Hood. Now he’s part of the competition.

Participating in his first Pacific Regional Trials, Daniels has won two gold medals, so far, for discus and shot put. He still has archery, shooting, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball to go.

This may be his first time competing at Regional Trials, but Daniels is no stranger to high-level competition having played both basketball and football for Youngstown State University. However, his motivations for competing now are different from what they were back then.

“I get out here and compete for my battle buddies that can’t. When you see amputees and people who have worse injuries than you doing things, you think why can’t I do it? And that’s why I do it, for those that can’t and for the WTB staff that supports and pushes me to be my best every day,” Daniels said. “But my biggest motivation, more than anything, is my 12-year-old son, Isaiah.”

When Daniels’s son was 4, he thought his dad was like a lion.

“He told me I was Mufasa and he was Simba,” Daniels said, referring to the father and son lions from “The Lion King” movie. “I really took the lion comment to heart because it came from my son, and I try to live up to that,” said Daniels, as he rolled up his right sleeve to reveal a lion tattoo.

That motivation has powered him through while recovering at the WTB, not just to compete in Regional Trials, but to get healthy and return to duty, which he is on track to do.

WTB support
“I thought coming to the WTB was a career ender, but it really isn’t. They push you to test where you are, and they won’t let you over do it. They work with you until they feel you’re ready and able to get back to the fight, or they help you get set up for when you transition out. You can’t beat it. It’s a great place to get better.”

Daniels credits the WTB staff, particularly its Adaptive Reconditioning Program team, for helping him get to this point, and hopes he and the rest of his WTB teammates make them proud at Regional Trials.

“The staff pushes us and gives us their best, and this is a chance for us to show our appreciation for them by doing our best like they do for us every day.”
Like the others competing at Regional Trials, Daniels hopes to continue on to Army Trials and continue making the WTB staff proud.

“Going on to Army Trials would be emotional for me because it will be proof that my hard work has paid off,” Daniels said. “Going up against the rest of the Army’s athletes would be special, and if I were to make Team Army and go to Warrior Games … that would be crazy. I’d give it all I got and push passed my limits to represent and make the Army proud.”

Daniels is off to a good start at the Pacific Regionals after winning the field events. He will continue to push himself in his other events and hopefully push himself into an invite for Army Trials at Fort Bliss, Texas.

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