Military Night Series Part 5: Damon Sims' Service
Editor’s Note: The Minnesota Lynx will hold its annual Military Night on Aug. 31 against the Tulsa Shock. Leading up to that evening, LynxBasketball.com will highlight members of the team who have family military ties. Part 5 looks back at Damon Sims, a member of the Lynx practice squad who has served in the U.S. Navy for 13 years.
Web Editorial Associate
For Damon Sims, a member of the Lynx male practice squad, selflessness is simply part of his nature. Sims and the other members of the squad are called upon to be the extra bodies at team practices from week to week, allowing the Lynx to try different offensive and defensive schemes against skilled players who are coached to mimic their upcoming opponents.
"What they come and do for us in invaluable, that they give up their free time and expend so much energy here," said assistant coach Jim Petersen, who works extensively with the practice squad. "Damon has been one of my go-to guys for years. He's been a guy that I can call up; if he says he's coming, he's coming. And his hard work is just so greatly appreciated by everybody: Coach Reeve, the players and me, because I'm the one who's calling them asking them to come. For them to give up their free time to come here is just really special."
But the time he puts in scrimmaging against Lynx players is by no means his only act of service.
Sims has also been an active member of the U.S. Navy for 13 years. When he first signed on, he said he was looking for a way to structure his life, get financial help for school and gain work experience. But he quickly came to love the Navy environment and became invested in the lifestyle.
"Just the way the Navy is structured, the support you get from within, the people you work with every day," Sims said. "Knowing that everyone you work with is there because they really believe in why they're there; they're not just there for a paycheck. I love being around people who, being at work every day really matters to them."
Petersen said that the military has instilled discipline, a strong work ethic and a self-sacrificing attitude in Sims, all of which make him such a valuable asset to the Lynx.
"The way he approaches the game, the way he understands how to play hard, but not so hard that someone gets hurt—he just gets it, he gets what he's here for," Petersen said. "He's not here to make himself look good and try to score the basketball. He's trying to execute the game plan that Shelley P. and I are trying to execute with the scout team. I think the main thing with Damon is his priorities are straight. He's here for the players, he's not here for himself."
Although being away from his family is difficult at times, Sims said that they support him and know that his work is important.
"They really understand why I have to be away,” he said. “We have family friends, a pretty tight-knit family who support each other when I'm gone. And they know that I'm gone for a reason, and for a good reason. So it's not just me that's in the Navy, it's really our whole family is in the Navy. And we come together to support the mission, whatever that is."
Aside from his family friends, Damon knows he has a military support system within the Lynx organization, as so many of the coaches and players have military family members. Coach Cheryl Reeve's father, both of Monica Wright's parents, Taj McWilliams-Franklin's husband and Rebekkah Brunson's grandfather, father and two brothers have all sacrificed for their country by serving in some branch of the military.
"When I found out how many of the WNBA players' husbands or brothers or sisters were in the military, I thought it was great," Sims said. "The outreach they do with military families is wonderful. I love it."
The Lynx will honor military members and their families on Military Night, tonight during their game against the Tulsa Shock, when they hope to have thousands of military families in attendance with tickets paid for by donations.
"I think it'll make lasting memories for military families, because we really hang heavy on our memories," Sims said. "And memories we can make with our families are very important to us."
Petersen echoed Sims's feelings.
"I think that any time you see your husband or wife be honored, it just adds a sense of pride. It just makes you feel good. And I know there's a lot of sacrifice involved, not just by the military men and women, but by their families too. The long stretches when they're gone, it's difficult.
"I don't think we can do enough for our military people. The amount of pressure that they're under, it's kind of like our guys [practice] team from the standpoint that they're being so selfless. They're doing it out of their own goodness to protect our country. They're being selfless, and the more we can do for them, the better it is for everyone."
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