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Let the games begin: Dorm Olympics strengthen morale and camaraderie

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jessi Monte
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan – Being a new Airman can be tough, especially when your first duty station is overseas. With the initial hardship that comes from being so far away from home for the first time in one’s life, paired with tackling a new skill set at a new job, finding time to make new friends can be a challenge.

Unaccompanied Airmen living in the dorms are a community within a community, where neighbors can become friends, and organized social events with pre-planned activities can be a useful conduit for making those new connections. 

“When I got to Kadena, I didn’t know anyone,” said Airman 1st Class Jaylin Velazquez, 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion journeyman and member of the dorm council. “The first organized dorm events I participated in helped me figure out who I wanted to be and created a lot of new relationships.”

Velazquez and his fellow council members wanted to get together with a couple of the other dorms and put together some sporting events.  The normal practice for every dorm council has been putting together events for just their own dorms.  When the idea was mentioned, Senior Master Sgt. Allen Limjoco, 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, and Chief Master Sgt. Ronnie Woods, 18th Wing command chief, caught wind of it and wanted to make it into a bigger event, and so the first Dorm Olympics was born. 

“This is the first time that all dorms on Kadena collaborated to put together something where they all participated together,” Limjoco said. “We got together with other private organizations from around the base and got the support to help make it happen.”

The Okinawa Enlisted Spouses Club provided laser engraved wooden medals for the winners of the events, while the First Sergeant Council, Kadena Chiefs Group, Operation Warm Heart and the Kadena Chapter of the Air Force Sergeants Association pitched in for food and beverages as well as miscellaneous costs and support toward the grand prize.

The winning dorm received a trophy, as well as a scheduled day for a food truck to come and provide pre-paid meals to all of the Airmen in the dorm. 
The week-long schedule consisted of fifteen different events, including bowling, basketball, volleyball, ultimate frisbee and even a video game tournament. Each dorm was responsible for sponsoring and organizing one or more of the events. 

Despite some inclement weather throughout the week, the Airmen made the event a success. Dorm 176 took the win with a total of 114 points. Dorms 141 and 613 swept up second and third place, respectively.
“The dorm olympics was an event we put together as a way to say thank you to our amazing Kadena Airmen and  get a little competition and a lot of camaraderie going between the dorms,” Limjoco stated. 

Limjoco and Velazquez were said that the whole week would not have been possible without the dedicated teamwork and cooperation between the dorm council members, the Airman Dorm Leaders and help from other senior NCO’s. 

Velazquez hopes the Dorm Olympics will become an annual tradition, and furthermore, hopes that other bases will adopt the idea and it can eventually be an Air Force wide event for all unaccompanied Airmen to enjoy. 

“I definitely want to pass the torch,” he said. “There are so many people out there wanting to help with morale and happiness among the Airmen and this may be a way to do that.”