From training to tournament: the All-Air Force Women's Softball Team

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alex Echols
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Hand picked female softball players in the Air Force have been training at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., for the All-Armed Forces Tournament starting Sept. 14 at Fort Sill, Okla.

Head coach Lou South, 325th Force Support Squadron fitness and sports director, and assistant coach Staff Sgt. Randy Baker, 43rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit Supply craftsman, have been running these athletes through their paces twice a day working out the kinks and preparing them for the tournament.

The All-Armed Forces Tournament pits the best players of the Air Force, Army and Marines against one another for a five-day playoff. Each team will play the others four times and the branch of service with the most wins will take home the gold medal.

The Air Force has a long history of winning this tournament, but last year the Army took the gold medal by one game. This year's team intends to bring it back.

"It belongs to the Air Force," said South. "We are the best in the sports program."

Initially, players who were interested in being on the team submitted a form 303, which serves as a sports resume. The 22 selected from those forms then arrived at Tyndall for a one-week tryout in which ability determined the final team.

"We're only together for a week, but having to say good bye to those girls after you know they worked just as hard as you did..." Senior Master Sgt. Karrie Warren, 101st Air Operations Group test flight superintendant and team captain, said. "To me that's the hardest part."

Warren will be one of the 11 athletes that have played on the team in previous years. She has played for the Air Force 14 years, and if the team wins, she will receive her 10th gold medal.

"I grew up through the program, but this one is a big one because there has never been a player to get 10," said Warren.

Practicing is a key to bring back the gold, but there are other vital elements needed to form a successful team.

"I think the biggest thing to establishing a strong team is bonding," Senior Airman Jessica Brown, Langley AFB, Va., geo-spatial imagery analyst, said. "Spending time with each other, getting to know each other and learning to rely on each other is very important."

The players spend the majority of their time together building those bonds and trust.

"This team has a lot of camaraderie and team spirit," said 1st Lt. Katherine Braun, Wright-Patterson AFB Intelligence officer. "We're just a big Air Force family. It makes it feel a lot closer than other teams I've been on."

It is not all about winning, though. The players represent their base, their unit and the Air Force as a whole, Mr. South said.

The athletes think of themselves as the face of the Air Force out on the field wearing the Air Force's jersey.

"It's honorable to be chosen to be on this team." said Brown.

After the tournament, the coaches have a meeting and select the best 15 players from each team for the All-Armed Forces team. This team goes to the nationals in Madison, Miss., against the best civilian teams.

The All-Air Force Team plays the Navy at 11 a.m. on Sept. 14 for their first game of the tournament.

"This is probably the best Air Force team I have played on in 14 years," Warren said. "Win or lose, to go out on top with a team like this will be awesome."