Amputee softball preview.jpg

This is truly America’s team. They represent our nation’s warfighters who have lost limbs in combat.

USA Patriots, formerly known as the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, will return to the Huntsville area Saturday for their annual exhibition games. This is the team’s fifth year to visit. They competed locally in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

“We have a total roster of 38 and we’ll be bringing 14 guys with us,” Desiree Ellison, the team’s executive director, said.

The USA Patriots will play two games Saturday at Madison Academy. The first game starts at 10 a.m. against Madison Academy. The second game is 12:30 p.m. against Redstone Arsenal.

“I’m excited. Every single year gets better and better,” Ellison said. “Huntsville is one of the solid events we can count on every year. It’s always a great time to be there and to be surrounded by our fans and friends.”

Randall Raper, the team’s fifth-year coach, is from Hackleburg which is in Marion County. He spent 30 years in the Air Force and retired as a command chief master sergeant. Raper was an assistant coach for the Air Force team, the U.S. armed forces team and Team USA, the men’s national slow-pitch team. “He’s a great guy,” Ellison said.

Raper said he too is looking forward to this return trip.

“It’s one of our favorite events, it always is,” he said. “We just look forward to it. Competition’s stiff, it’s always tough. And everybody treats us like rock stars. We appreciate Madison Academy also letting us use their facility.”

The Association of the U.S. Army, Redstone-Huntsville chapter’s Young Professionals is the event host.

“This event is to bring awareness about the USA Patriots, what the team does and to recognize the players and the camps they do for kids who were born without limbs or have some amputation,” Andrew Norton, president of the Young Professionals, said. “It’s to bring awareness of their program and what the organization does.”

The USA Patriots players are combat veterans who lost limbs from injury.

Garrison’s Command Sgt. Maj. Billy Counts is coach for the Redstone Arsenal team.

“It is always a great experience to be out there on the field with these heroes,” Counts said. “And to see their drive and determination to what could have caused most people to lose hope. It’s just motivation for all.”

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