USAG Japan earns first ever Commander’s Cup for winning 2021-2022 season

USAG Japan earns first ever Commander’s Cup for winning 2021-2022 season

by Noriko Kudo
U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs

CAMP ZAMA, Japan – U.S. Army Garrison Japan won its first ever Commander’s Cup title for the 2021-2022 intramural sports season, achieving a milestone for the unit that included first-place wins in four season-long events.

USAG Japan Commander Col. Christopher L. Tomlinson accepted the trophy on behalf of his unit, along with representatives from various team sports in which the Garrison competed, during a ceremony June 17 at Yano Field here.

The ceremony was part of the festivities that closed out Camp Zama’s Army Week activities, which began June 14 in celebration of the Army’s 247th birthday.

Tomlinson said he could feel the sense of pride of the Garrison representatives with him when he invited them to receive the trophy with him.

“You could truly see how happy they were,” Tomlinson said. “It’s great thing for the Garrison.”

The 2021-2022 Commander’s Cup program consisted of 26 different events—14 individual events, six one-day team events, six regular-season sports events—and four post-season tournaments.

Greg Zaboski, a sports specialist assigned to Camp Zama’s Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and organizer of the program, noted that this was the first time for USAG Japan to win the Commander’s Cup since DFMWR began keeping records in 2006.

“This was a great event overall, with great participation throughout the community, and I hope to keep the momentum going for the next season,” Zaboski said.

The Army’s intramural sports program and the Commander’s Cup have two important factors, Tomlinson said. The first is that it fosters a sense of healthy competition and sportsmanship among all those who compete—including Soldiers, civilians, local-national employees, eligible family members, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members, and even an Air Force unit on Camp Zama. The second is the fitness aspect, which Tomlinson said helps build resiliency and cohesiveness.

Near the end of the season, the Garrison was in third place, a position they reached thanks to critical wins in point-heavy, season-long events like softball and basketball. Then, back-to-back-to-back wins in the last three events of the season—the 6-person soccer tournament, volleyball and golf—propelled them to victory.

The Garrison’s efforts throughout the season showed drive and a refusal to quit, Tomlinson said. These are traits that the unit regularly displays both on the field and in service of the unit’s mission of “being always at the point of service, serving our community,” he said.

Kekua Aumua is a supervisory air traffic control specialist at Camp Zama’s Kastner Airfield. He also coached and played on the Garrison softball team, and played on its flag football team. The Garrison’s performance in the major team sports was instrumental in helping the unit win the Commander’s Cup, he said.

“Garrison Soldiers and employees are very talented and athletic,” Aumua said. “We are fortunate to have so many willing and capable team members.”

Player shortages can sometimes be an issue when it comes to things like extracurricular activities such as sports, Aumua said, because it requires people to give up a lot of their free time. But the Garrison is fortunate, in that its team members are selfless and are willing and able to share that time freely.

“We were ecstatic [to win] because it has been a goal of ours, and we helped contribute to our organization’s win,” Aumua said.

The 2022-2023 Commander’s Cup season kicked off with a dodgeball tournament held June 22. If the Garrison can do well in the major team sports and enter more individual events, Aumua said he is hopeful his unit can defend its title next year.

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