Kissimmee, FL-February 26, 2014-The USSSA Pride spent a week in beautiful Palm Springs, California where they took on the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team as a kick-off for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic softball tournament at the Big League Dreams Facility in Cathedral City. The tournament features the top NCAA Division 1 women’s college softball teams from across the country and the National Pro Fastpitch 2013 Champions, the USSSA Florida Pride were there to take the field and show how they play ball at the pro level. The event was well received by local press and by the community at large. Even receiving coverage by the newspaper, The Desert Sun.
The amputee team played the game against the NPF champions to raise awareness and spread the message of resiliency, as the Wounded Warriors are comprised of U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy vets who have lost limbs post-9/11, while serving in the military. David Van Sleet is the founder and coach of the team who put it together about three years ago. The participants have competed in 28 states and 66 cities since that time. He a U.S. Army veteran, worked in prosthetics for 33 years for the Department of Veterans Affairs and decided to combine his training and talents to come up with the Wounded Warrior Softball Team. “I’ve always coached and played softball and the light bulb just went off one day,” Van Sleet said.
Their own website describes them as follows: “The national Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (WWAST), represents some of our nation’s bravest and most determined heroes, soldiers and veterans. These young extremely athletic men have sustained severe injuries resulting in amputation while serving in the military/war, and through extensive rehabilitation, they have become competitive athletes again. Their armor now includes prosthetic legs and arms, along with extreme perseverance and attitude. Together they comprise the national WOUNDED WARRIOR AMPUTEE SOFTBALL TEAM.”
The exhibition game they played with the USSSA Pride was a mixture of slowpitch and fastpitch — featured both teams firing off hits to all areas of the ballpark. The men were fast afoot on the base paths, even those sporting two prosthetic legs.
“We travel the country playing exhibition games, raising awareness for amputees and people who have been injured in the war,” said Matt Kinsey, 28, of Louisville, Ky. He is a U.S. Army veteran who lost his right foot when a landmine went off in 2010 while he was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.
The USSSA Pride were honored to take part in this event which was played on Big League Dreams Cathedral City’s replica Wrigley Field. “Playing against these guys, it’s a great feeling … they do so much for our country and then to be able to come out here and compete against them once they get back out here and healthy,” Pride catcher Kristyn Sandberg, 24, said. “Some people don’t realize when it can get taken away from them.”
The amputee team has partnered with USSSA and will “follow them around the country,” and compete in a series of games to continue to promote awareness. Following the closely contested match up at Cathedral City where the Pride prevailed, USSSA presented the Wounded Warriors Softball Team with a check for $50,000 as a donation.
Stay tuned for more on this great partnership between USSSA and the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. Remember that USSSA has a great Military sports program too! Contact [email protected] for more information on the USSSA Military program.
About USSSA Florida Pride:
The USSSA Florida Pride is a professional franchise in the National Pro Fastpitch League that is owned and operated by USSSA. The amateur organization of USSSA has multi-sport coverage and encompasses teams and players from the United States and abroad.
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002.
The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), headquartered in Osceola County, Florida, USSSA is the World’s Largest Multi-sport Athletic Organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit USSSA.com. Also be sure to visit USSSAToday.com for the latest USSSA News!