MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
In the fray of volleyball, teamwork is everything. The position of middle blocker can’t effectively defend against the barrage of hits without the support of her teammates. In the skies, airpower cannot be delivered without the insight and support of each crew member.
Two Moody Airmen brought their mentality from the Air Force onto the court while playing on the Air Force volleyball team together in 2019.
“It all comes back to camaraderie and the teamwork of counting on everyone to do their part,” Capt. Ashton Peckham, 71st Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II combat systems officer (CSO). “I’m on a crew aircraft, so we work together to affect the mission. No one person can fly the HC-130J alone. It takes all of us. Having the right attitude. Bringing your strengths to the table and being honest about your weaknesses so then the rest of your crew can back you up.”
Even though intel and CSOs work together every day to accomplish the mission, Peckham and 2d Lt. Savannah Banyai, 74th Fighter Squadron chief of intelligence, had not actually met in person until they both made the Air Force volleyball team.
“It’s rare to get on the team, but it’s even rarer to have two people from the same base be on the team,” said Banyai. “I hadn’t known Capt. Peckham, but from this I was able to make a new friend who I can now share similar experiences and it’s great that this was able to bring us together. It’s a testament to what the athletic environment can do.”
Peckham thought she had missed her chances of experiencing the athletic environment of the Air Force team, but by the same tenacity she shows high in the clouds, she was able bring her best to the table.
“I didn’t think I was going to make the team,” Peckham said. “I had said my goodbyes the night before. I was just feeling super fortunate to have been there and grateful for my commander to let me take some time to go and have this experience. But when I did make the team, I was shocked and excited. I knew pretty early on that I wasn’t the strongest player. So knowing that, I really tried to focus on the things I could control: giving it my all and staying positive, being supportive of all the players and being a team player. The things that are in your control are sometimes the most beneficial to the team, so I tried to improve as much as I could, taking as much feedback as I could.
“You’ve got to try,” Peckham added. “I may not have been the best, but I gave my best, and I made it. Whatever your passion is, just try it.”
For both these volleyball all-stars, it wasn’t the triumphs they achieved, but the love of the sport that impassioned them. Even after it’s all said and done, one could still find them out on the court serving the ball and playing the game, helping each other on the court and in the skies.
“I enjoy having the opportunity that is unique and brings people together,” Banyai said. “Not everybody has the opportunity, but it’s such a great sense of camaraderie. Despite the level of competition, I still love to play. Even if it’s not at a professional level, I’m still going to play my heart out.”