Tim's Take: U.S. Paralympic basketball team training in Savannah - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Tim's Take: U.S. Paralympic basketball team training in Savannah

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

With every cut to the basket, every momentum-defying pivot at the Hunter Army Airfield Fitness Center, the Olympic movement is rolling back into Savannah.

The United States Paralympic wheelchair basketball team is holding its third training camp in Savannah this weekend, returning to a city where they have been so warmly welcomed - and returning to that city an important, almost forgotten part of its identity.

"We're getting back into Olympic mode again,'' said former Olympian Michael Cohen, who is the strength and conditioning coach for the team. "It's been 20 years and it's nice to be back involved with the Olympics.''

"The people here are very nice and have taken care of everything we could possibly ask for,'' added Ron Lykins, the team's coach. "And that allows us to train and get our work in.''

Cohen and trainer Mary Vacala are why the wheelchair basketball team is in Savannah, and why the Olympic presence here could grow again.

"Oh, no question about it,'' said Cohen. "When one team is having success and continues to come to the same, small southern town, then other organizations know what's going on.''

But this camp, being at Hunter, has become about more than the Olympics.

Soldiers wounded in combat have had a chance to see how high a level these Paralympians are able to compete at and can be inspired by a team that next month will compete for a world championship.

"Without them, we can't do what we do and we're just thankful if we can provide a little bit of entertainment for them to watch us," said Lykins. 

"People often misinterpret me as a wounded warrior,'' added Chris Kommer, a center on the team. "So I definitely go out of my way to thank these service men and women when I have the opportunity.''

It's an opportunity that is likely to continue beyond this weekend, bringing together two no longer separate parts of Savannah.

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