Athlete Spotlight – Carlos Valerio: Paying It Forward
January 10, 2022 | Story by Megan Trexler | Commander, Navy Installations Command
WASHINGTON – As a seasoned Team Navy athlete, HM1 (Ret.) Carlos Valerio understands the value of camaraderie necessary for wounded warriors. Valerio said that his goal is to help build a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood amongst the team. He said, “When I am talking to new athletes, I tell them ‘You are part of a family now.’”
Retiring after 20 years of service in the U.S. Navy, he said that he sees the similarities between relying on your fellow Sailors and relying on your Team Navy teammates. “As a fourth time athlete, not only do I get to represent the Navy, I also have the opportunity to assist and mentor new athletes as they are introduced to the adaptive sports world.”
During the 2018 Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games, Valerio was selected as the Team Navy co-captain. He said, “I was honored.” As the co-captain, Valerio helped set the tempo, not only during training and competition, but with personal connections as well. He expressed, “I think it’s important to remember that you can come here and have fun…be super competitive, even. But I like to help remind athletes, especially new athletes, that this program is here to help with their recovery journey.”
Valerio continued, “Navy Wounded Warrior and the adaptive sports program has helped me so much… it saved my life. I keep coming back to try and be an extension of the staff…to help new enrollee navigate their new normal.”
In 2017, Valerio attended his first adaptive sports intro camp held in Bethesda, Maryland. After attending his second intro camp, Valerio was invited to attend the Navy Team Trials. The El Paso, Texas native was slated to compete in his fourth DoD Warriors Games. Valerio previously represented Team Navy during the 2017, 2018 and 2019 games. Additionally, Valerio represented Team US at the 2018 Invictus Games.
Throughout his time with Team Navy, he has competed in cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, track, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. Citing that sitting volleyball is his favorite sport because of the team aspect.
Navy Wounded Warrior is the Navy’s sole organization for coordinating the non-medical care of seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen and providing resources and support to their families.
The Warrior Games are a Paralympic-style competition among more than 200 wounded, ill and injured service members from all branches of the U.S. military, as well as from international armed forces. The 2021 Department of Defense Warrior Games would have been hosted at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida from September 12-22, 2021. The invitation-only event was going to feature 12 sports: archery, cycling, field, golf, indoor rowing, powerlifting, shooting (precision air), sitting volleyball, swimming, track, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. The 2021 DoD Warrior Games were canceled due to ensure the safety, health and well-being of our service members and local communities as the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to affect the country.