Hoosiers are known for their propensity to love the game of basketball, and some even have the ability to back up the passion on the court. Three area law enforcement officers made sure the Hoosiers mystique lived up to hype on a worldwide level.
Eight police and sheriff’s officers from Indiana took part in the recent World Police and Fire Games held in Los Angeles last month and won the gold medal in men’s basketball.
The games are an athletic gathering, similar to the Olympics, but designed for law enforcement officers and firefighters.
Josh Mullins and Isaac Galbraith, Greenfield Police Department officers, and Mark Galbraith, a Hancock County Sheriff’s Department officer, were on the Indiana team and helped bring home the gold.
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Their squad won all eight of their games at the division one level where the top players from all ages competed.
The World Police and Fire Games is a biennial gathering for athletes who are also either active or retired law enforcement or firefighters from around the world.
“Some people know it’s a big deal and a pretty neat thing, and others think it’s kind of just an event, but it’s a pretty big deal,” Mark Galbraith said. “It’s pretty neat to be able to win a gold medal — kind of a once in a life time opportunity.”
Teams from 65 different countries were represented at the games.
For Mark Galbraith, 32, a 2004 Greenfield-Central High School graduate and basketball player, getting the chance to play a game he’s loved his whole life at a higher level was special, he said.
Mullins, 36, a 1999 Greenfield-Central graduate, was also a hoops player for the Cougars who went on to play NCAA Division I basketball for Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).
Mullins’ best friend, Sydney McDaniel, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer and player, helped organize the team. They got a few fellow IMPD officers, plus a couple other guys from around the state to take part and created a team to represent Indiana.
The guys, many who play in leagues throughout the year, only practiced for a couple of hours together one weekend as a team before they left for the games, Mullins said. But, the chemistry was there from the get go.
Issac Galbraith, 27, a 2009 Greenfield-Central graduate and Mark Galbraith’s younger brother, has traveled to different states to play in police league games, but representing Indiana in the World Games was a unique opportunity, he said.
“We knew going in, there was going to be some good competition out there, so we were all excited to go,” he said.
Issac Galbraith also felt the camaraderie when the Indiana team practiced, just that one time, and the team attitude paid off on the court.
“We weren’t necessarily cocky or anything, but we just felt like when we are on the court together, there were not too many people we couldn’t beat,” he said.
They were right.
The Indiana team had no problem putting up points, the players said, but the key to going undefeated and winning the gold, was their defense, they said.
The Indiana team played four pool games and four tournament games winning them all, even the championship game when they trailed 22-4 against a team from Washington D.C., before battling back to win the gold.
“By the time we got to that game, everyone’s legs were gone because we had played eight games in five days,” Mullins said.
While the men enjoyed, playing and winning the gold medal just being around other law enforcement officers was also special.
“The thing is, yeah, we’re competing against each other, but the main thing, police officers always want is to know, we’ve got each other’s back, no matter where we are from,” Mullins said.
For men who put their lives on the line every single day they head to work, getting a chance to compete, relax and play a game they love was a memorable experience, they said.
The three county law officials enjoyed seeing other officers and fire officials from all over the world stepping away, if only for a few days, from the intensity of their profession.
“What we do, it’s serious every day,” Issac Galbraith said. “I like that they do things like this because it shines a light and shows we’re not just police officers, we’re also human beings who enjoy sports and life like everybody does.”