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Viper Volleyball Association ‘serves’ as host for 2024 Southeast Region Championship

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kevin Dunkleberger
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Shaw Air Force Base hosted the Air Force Varsity Volleyball League’s Southeast Regional Championship on Jan. 14, 2024, with seven teams competing for a chance to play in the continental U.S. championship later this year.

Shaw’s Viper Volleyball Association women’s volleyball team won first place in the tournament, a follow-up to their 2023 CONUS women’s championship win. The Viper Volleyball Association coed team also secured a third place finish, with the teams from Moody AFB, Georgia in second and Hurlburt Field, Florida in first.

The Air Force Varsity Volleyball League is composed of 33 teams across the continental U.S., which offers service members opportunities to improve physical fitness, mental wellness and social connections to be better prepared for personal and professional challenges in their military careers.

The tournament is a milestone for the newly organized Air Force Varsity Volleyball League as it grows in popularity across stateside bases.

Despite a slow start due to the pandemic, Staff Sgt. Steven Landgren, 432nd Support Squadron air transportation functional representative, began to form the Air Force Varsity Volleyball League in 2021, taking inspiration from a similar league in the United States Air Forces in Europe.

Starting with organizing a team at his home installation, Dover AFB, Delaware, Landgren then reached out to other local bases to compete against. Slowly, more teams joined within the region, followed by teams from other regions, and eventually the league encompassed teams from bases across the continental U.S.

“The Air Force Varsity Volleyball League is about opportunity,” said Landgren. “We have given an outlet for players to not only showcase themselves, but now they have a step for trying out for the next level - no longer jumping from a recreational league to the Air Force level.”

The Air Force identifies participating in sports as a component to an individual’s overall comprehensive fitness, improving physical, mental, social and spiritual fitness, which are necessary to maintain a fit, resilient and ready force.

“Something I didn’t realize until I looked at the bigger picture is we are also keeping service members fit to do their job. They are having fun and enjoying themselves, which leads to better performance and opens a lot more doors than just volleyball itself,” said Landgren.

Tech. Sgt. Sierra Augustine, 20th Force Support Squadron dining facility manager, utilizes the Air Force Varsity Volleyball League to help her work up to competing at a higher level, and enjoys the camaraderie with the team. She helped form the Viper Volleyball Association at Shaw, leading the team to win the inaugural CONUS championship in 2023 and their win this past weekend. She also served as a liaison to host the regional tournament here at Shaw.

“The team is like a family away from home,” said Augustine. “Home is pretty far for most of us, so it is nice to have this kind of community where we can play volleyball, have fun and enjoy each other’s company. Whether we are here on base or coaching at the [local volleyball club], we are together all the time supporting one another, which makes us family.”