LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
Lackland's sports and fitness staff members were recently named the best at what they do in the Air Force.
The staff was recognized as the Air Force's top performing sports program for its contributions to the base community between October 2008 through September 2009.
While recognition is nice, providing Airmen the avenue to fitness and recreation is what really motivates the staff to excel.
That motivation results in smiles greeting fitness center patrons, professionalism in fitness testing, and ingenuity in program development such as evaluative health programs and base-wide sporting events.
Some of the major accomplishments during the award period include spearheading an Air Force Basic Military Training fitness rehab program, a "fittest fighter" incentive program, hosting a service-wide soccer tournament and an Armed Forces basketball tournament.
After winning the majority of Air Education and Training Command awards over the past decade, staff director Steve Reichert said being the named service's best is the ultimate prize.
"Every year that's our goal," Reichert said. "We feel like (a major command level award is) a given. We should win that hands down for all the things that we do, but the Air Force award has always been our goal."
Reichert enjoyed a career year in 2008, winning the squadron, group, wing and Team Lackland civilian of the year as well as the Air Force services senior supervisor of the year awards.
Reichert agreed it was like winning the MVP but losing the championship, stressing the importance of a team concept.
He's more concerned with the overall mission and seeing his team succeed.
He said the accolade recognizing the men and women dedicated to serving its community is much more valuable.
Recognizing his team's talent and trusting his staff, from employees manning fitness center reception desks to the intramural and varsity sports directors located across from his office, has contributed to success.
With a fitness and sports package that included eight varsity sports, 23 intramural sports, six fitness centers and its associated classes, 15 fun runs and seven formation runs, and numerous outreaches in support of other base organizations among other contributions, Reichert allows his staff freedom to make decisions, identify problems and find solutions.
"I empower these folks to make decisions," he said. "I'm definitely the furthest thing from a micromanager."
Enhanced - or varsity - sports is one of many areas where the program has shined.
Not a mandated area of fitness and sports programs, varsity sports requires vision, dedication and ambition to sustain programs and bring in new sporting competitions.
As a result, varsity sports director Dwayne Reed trades nights and weekends to provide Airmen a venue to play competitive sports.
"I want to give that active-duty member the opportunity to play a high level sport, whether it's basketball, soccer, volleyball," he said. "I want to give them the opportunity to play against local colleges or other bases. It gives them another avenue in addition to intramurals."
Varsity sports can also be a stepping-stone to the Air Force World Class Athlete Program and Olympic-level competition.
In another important way, it connects bases through competition.
"I try to reach out to bases with the same sense of ambition and initiative," Reed said. "That way we can come together and make it happen."
Above all else, Reichert said customer service is integral to the successful program, especially while private gyms are getting less expensive and more accessible.
The staff fits in with a community focused on warrior Airmen.
The flip side of their mission, the staff maintains access to training facilities and pools knowledge about fitness evaluations and personal training.
"If there's one thing that our leadership and Steve (Reichert) harps on, it's customer service," Warhawk Fitness Center manager Brett Cannon said.
"Plus, these guys just enjoy their jobs," Cannon confirmed. "That's why we hire who we hire."
With Reichert at the helm, the current group chemistry doesn't seem likely to change any time soon.
He agreed a candidate for a staff position has to be enthusiastic.
Regardless of the fitness facilities or yearly budget, Reichert believes in the people he's surrounded by.
"Pick my staff up and put them in one of these (newer) fitness centers, see how much we shine then," he said. "It's the people that make the difference."
Moving forward, the goal is "sustained excellence," Reichert said, with emphasis focused on perfecting the fitness assessment cell testing of the revised Air Force fitness program.