Suppliers Outfit the Largest-Ever Wounded Warriors Umpire Academy Represented For the First Time by All Military BranchesJul 12th, 2018
Life after military service can come with difficulties, especially for those soldiers recovering from physical injuries or emotional trauma. Finding ways to contribute to society can be challenging for retired military men and women.
Retired Marine and umpire Greg Wilson and NCAA umpire Dan Weikle created the Wounded Warrior Umpire Academy in 2014. Its mission is
“to provide instruction, training, mentoring, and placement for military veterans interested in officiating baseball or softball.”
According to Wilson,
"We are a Veteran's Service Organization - we really use this thing called 'baseball' as a guise to bring veterans together to build relationships and mentor each other through the transition from military service.
I've been retired from the Corps for over 2 years now and it is THIS program that keeps me connected to my brothers and sisters in arms. It is THIS program that makes me feel like I am surrounded by people who truly get it and understand what I am going through.
That's the message we want to send and that's the support we provide. Having fun on the baseball diamond is merely a fringe benefit!"
Why Wounded Warriors as umpires? Service members are already disciplined, organized and polished. What’s needed are the training and the gear so they can make an immediate transition to the baseball diamond.
Students came from 11 states to participate in a 10-Day course based in Charlotte, North Carolina. The 2018 class had 19 new students and 5 returning for the largest-ever class of 24 students. This was the first camp featuring all 5 branches of the United States Military.
The staff roster consisted of 19 dedicated individuals (board and volunteers) which included 6 brand new to the WWUA.
MiLB umpires working in the Charlotte area also made appearances throughout camp. Ryan Clark, Charlie Ramos, Reid Gibbs, Forrest Ladd, Dexter Kelly, Jude Koury and Scottie Mallory shared their knowledge and experiences as professional umpires with campers and staff.
THE GEAR AND APPAREL
We are proud to be one of the Grand Slam Sponsors along with the Semper Fi Fund. In reality, it’s the caring suppliers that each year step up to the plate to outfit the new umpires with their gear and apparel.
We would like to thank the following companies for their generous donations and dedication to the brave men and women of the Wounded Warriors Umpire Academy.
$1000 in Gift Cards, Umpire Caps, Indicators, Plate Brushes & Shoe Laces
The Honor Graduate of 2018 was Thomas Rich from Boise, Idaho. He served as a Corporal in the Marine Corps from 2002-2006 and currently works as a firefighter.
Rich chased the dream of being a professional baseball player for a while. Now that he has learned to be an umpire, he has a strong desire and passion for seeing how far he can go with this new vocation.
John Crosser, an Army veteran, was injured by an IED in Iraq resulting in an amputated right leg and forearm injuries.
Crosser was already working as an umpire before participating in WWUA. Some are unaware of the challenges he and other veterans face when stepping onto the ball field. Crosser said,
"I have a few modifications that I need to do that at a normal instructional clinic that I would go to, I kind of get a little picked on or get a little, 'Hey you're doing it wrong'. But here I don't get that. I actually get more ideas of how to adapt to my disabilities."
Ump-Attire.com is extremely proud of all the WWUA graduates and hope to see you on ball fields across the nation!
For more information about the Wounded Warrior Umpire Academy, visit www.woundedwarriorua.com
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About the Author
Pro School Umpire Graduate Josh Mann
A native of Chicago, Josh graduated from the University of Arizona with degrees in Economy & Industry and Sports Management. He attended the Minor League Baseball Umpire Training Academy and Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School, umpired in the Frontier Professional Baseball League, and worked in the Chicago Cubs Organization. Josh enjoys baseball, hockey, golf and spending time with his dog Wrigley. He spent 4 years as Ump-Attire.com’s marketing assistant and recently relocated to Arizona.