HENRY COUNTY, GA-- June 28, 2019-- Henry County Wheelchair Sports Coordinator for Henry County Parks & Recreation. Harlon Matthews was recruited by the Air Force to coach three Wounded Warriors wheelchair tennis teams who just wrapped up competing at the Warrior Games in Tampa this past weekend.
Matthews headed down to Hurlburt Air Force Field in Ft. Walton Beach, FL earlier this month to lend his wheelchair tennis coaching expertise in helping the athletes get ready for the Warrior Games and he is pleased to report that two of the teams he helped coach earned bronze and gold medals. Teams who participated represented the US Air Force, US Army, US Navy, US Marines, Australia, Canada, Netherlands and UK.
Matthews said he was honored to be asked to coach the Air Force wheelchair tennis teams and said it was like coming full circle since middle and high school.
“I was in Air Force JRROTC and working on a scholarship, but caught a cold going around school that went to my spinal cord and paralyzed me. Coaching for these games allowed me to ‘serve’ in another way,” he said.
“This was an amazing honor and thrill to be asked by the Air Force to coach their wheelchair tennis teams and we definitely met expectations,” he said of the outcome. However, he said what impressed him more was the fierceness and stamina of the Wounded Warrior athletes.
“The resilience of the warriors is crazy,” he said. “They start competing at 8 in the morning and don’t finish until 4:30, non-stop competition in several different sports. It was incredible.”
Matthews said that not only was it an honor for him to be asked to coach the Wounded Warriors, but an honor in memory of his father, who passed away a few years ago and who was an Army veteran and a staunch supporter of the Wounded Warriors organization.
“I hope my dad is looking down on me with pride because the Wounded Warriors organization was near and dear to his heart, and I am proud to have been a small part of this year’s games,” said Matthews.