by Karim Doumar
Police Chief Mary Gavin is a triathlete. Community Service Officer James Brooks is a soccer official. Captain Thomas Polera is on the Arlington Fire/Police Ice Hockey Team. Master Police Officer Jennifer “Missy” Elliot plays golf.
They are all excited and proud to be representing the City of Falls Church in the World Police and Fire Games. With 12,000 participants, the World Police and Fire Games is one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
Police Chief Mary Gavin will be participating in the women’s triathlon on Friday, July 3 at the Reston Triathlon course. The event includes a 1.5 km swim, a 40 km bike ride and a 10 km run. In miles, this is roughly one swimming mile, 25 biking miles and 6 running miles for an intimidating 32 mile total. This is no easy feat.
But Gavin, who has been police chief nearly three years of her almost 30-year career, will be prepared. She has participated in several triathlons in the past, but this is her first World Police and Fire Games.
It is also the first time for Community Service Officer James Brooks, but he is involved in the Games in a different capacity. As the Games were organizing, they started searching for referees. They needed officials who were already registered with the United States Soccer Federation. Brooks, who started officiating as a youth-referee and continued into adulthood, was fit for the job.
Most of the referees are from the mid-Atlantic area, but few are also involved in law enforcement. Brooks is one of the exceptions which made him particularly suited for the World Police and Fire Games.
“Being a referee [involves] many of the same skill sets as an officer but the tools are different,” Brooks said. Both jobs have a need for management of people and proper resolution, according to Brooks.
Each soccer game has one referee and two assistant referees. The referee is in the playing field while the two assistants stay on the sidelines. Brooks will be a referee for three games and an assistant referee for one game.
Captain Thomas Polera, who is the City’s Fire Marshal and Emergency Manager, is playing on the Arlington Fire/Police Ice Hockey Team. The team participated in the 2013 World Police and Fire Games in New York but Polera had an injury and so he wasn’t on the roster.
That isn’t to say he’s unprepared. Polera has been playing hockey his entire life. He also competed in a regional competitive tournament with an Arlington Fire and Rescue team and has previously participated in the CanAm (Canadian American) Games.
The Arlington Fire/Police Ice Hockey Team will be playing in the novice division where they can avoid playing teams such as those of the Moscow Police Service, Montreal Community Police and Lulea Fire Department of Sweden.
Master Police Officer Jennifer “Missy” Elliott competed in the women’s golf competition. She competed in both the individual competition and the duo competition and as a result, she played golf for three days in a row.
“It’s tough to have your body take three straight days of swinging,” Elliott said but having seen her chiropractor on Tuesday, she feels up for the challenge.
Elliot has been playing golf since 2007. It helps her deal with “the stress and trauma of law enforcement,” Elliott explained
Having played in the area for the past eight years, Elliott is at an advantage because she knows the course exceptionally well.
In duo competitions, each member of the pair plays each hole. The best score for a certain hole is the one that counts and the total of the best scores is tallied at the end.
Though many competitors come to the Games with a partner they already know, Elliott didn’t know any other police or fire personnel in the area who played golf so she opted for a random partner. The Games officials paired her with an athlete from Australia who she had never met.
“It’s neat to play with somebody I don’t know from a different country,” Elliott said, adding “it’ll be fun.”
And with that, she seems to embody the very spirit and purpose of the Games.