Softball Alumni and Military Veterans Raise Awareness for Wounded Heroes

Oct. 11, 2016



By Brad Muller | More Features

South Carolina softball alumni are getting together in support of wounded members of the military with a pair of events this week in Lexington and West Columbia, South Carolina. The Louisville Slugger Warriors, which is a highly decorated national slow pitch softball tournament team consisting of U.S. military veterans and active duty personnel who have suffered service related wounds, travel all around the country to raise awareness for disabled servicemen and women. Gamecock softball alumna Kate (Pouliot) Abney and Fun4All helped bring such a team to the area for the second straight year.

“When I first learned about these guys, it was a no-brainer for me,” said Abney who serves as the Director of Softball Operations for the team and is also an occupational therapist at Lexington Medical Center Extended Care. “This combines two of my greatest passions in life: softball and rehabilitation in coming back from something that can be devastating, and deciding to overcome that. To push through the rehabilitation process, overcome obstacles and begin to live life to the fullest is what occupational therapy is all about.”

The first event will have the Louisville Slugger Warriors take on a team from Joint Base Charleston at the Lexington County Baseball Stadium beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 14. Admission is $2, and donations will be accepted at the gate.

“These are young men who are very competitive in nature, and I can relate to that as an athlete,” Abney said. “I can also relate to them in a special way with the relationship I have in medicine and therapy. I’m learning a lot from them. I have so much fun with them, too.”

On Saturday, October 15, the Louisville Slugger Warriors and more than two dozen South Carolina softball alumni will be on hand as part of a fast pitch tournament called USSSA Louisville Slugger Operation Thank You, which will be played at Pine Grove Sports Complex in West Columbia.

“They will be playing a round robin tournament mixed in with South Carolina softball alumni,” Abney said. “We already have around 25 Gamecock softball alumni coming in to play from all around the country. We are creating four teams where the Louisville Slugger Warriors will be playing alongside alumni from the past several decades.”

This really gives them a sense of comradery again and helps them get out to further their physical and mental rehabilitation.
Kate Abney

The Lexington County Recreation and Aging Commission is a generous sponsor of the event by hosting both fields for the tournament, which features youth club teams for 10U, 12U, 14U, 16U, and 18U. The gate fee for entry to the tournament is $6 for adults, $4 for youths, while children under 12 get in free. Funds and donations raised at the events help the team to continue its travel across the country and compete in the tournaments, while raising awareness of the needs of disabled veterans. After a successful event last year in Columbia, the goal is to raise $30,000 at this year’s event in the Midlands.

“We go around the country and play in tournaments against able-bodied teams,” Abney said. “The team does really well. They’re hungry for high level competition. It also raises awareness. These guys are coming back home injured, but that doesn’t mean that they still can’t be incredible athletes and that they are very capable of pursuing their passions.

“The goal is to continue to build on their rehabilitation process that they’ve gone through since their injuries. We have eight amputees on the team, and several of the other guys have some of the ‘invisible’ wounds that you are hearing a lot more about these days, such as traumatic brain injury, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and things like that. This really gives them a sense of comradery again and helps them get out to further their physical and mental rehabilitation.”

Donations can be made at either of the events or if you would like more information on how you can make a donation to the cause, contact Kate Abney via email at kate.pouliot@yahoo.com.

You can also find the event on Facebook: Battle at the Ball Park, featuring the Louisville Slugger Warriors.