Fort Benning Men’s Basketball Hosts First Holiday Tournament of the Year for Military Bases Nationwide

LaGRANGE, Georgia (WRBL) – The Fort Benning Yellowjackets are currently hosting their first holiday tournament of the year. Basketball teams from military bases across the country traveled to Columbus to participate.

Angel Acevedo, tournament director and coach of the Fort Benning men’s basketball team, said he took on the leadership roles so he could give active duty soldiers something to look forward to other than the work.

“They love it because two years ago they were a strict road team, they went maybe every other weekend, maybe every third weekend, they were on the road traveling in two or three states,” Acevedo said.

According to Acevedo, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many post-basketball gyms have been closed, causing many teams, including Fort Benning, to travel out of state several times a month. He met with different community organizations and scheduled 12 home games in Columbus to keep soldiers from traveling so much.

The teams participating in the tournament only have players from their position. There are teams from military bases all over the country, including from Fort Carson in Colorado.

Acevedo is a retired US Army veteran who served 25 years of active duty and, like him, many of the tournament organizers are retired military personnel.

Aaron Bryant, president of the Coaches Association, is a retired US Army veteran who served 22 years on active duty.

“I love what I do, I love supporting the troops and giving that time to kneel down and enjoy things outside of the military. Being able to come here with them and just have fun and do something positive worth it to me,” Bryant said.

Bryant said he really enjoys participating in the basketball league because of the camaraderie. Joey Velez, one of the Fort Benning Yellowjackets players, agrees.

Velez is a contractor based at Fort Benning, he moved to Fort Benning two years ago and said he joined the Yellowjackets for the opportunity to participate in something other than work.

“For me, I’m a great team guy because of the camaraderie. I’m from California, so being part of a team has given me this support network here,” Velez said.

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