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Varsity softball team looking to compete

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- When the intramural softball season finished here last year, Josh Carter wasn't ready to stop playing. He'd had a taste of competition, but wanted more. His solution was to revive the Schriever Air Force Base Varsity softball team.

"It's been a handful of years since they've had a team out here," Carter said. "We'd like to get the ball rolling (on a new team)."

The first thing Carter had to do was to see if there was enough interest to get the team started. Tryouts were held in September, and a team was put together to compete in a tournament in October. Based on the feedback from the tryouts and tournament, Carter decided to submit a proposal for funding.

"Coach Carter did an excellent job of listing the varsity softball team's requirements and we were able to fund a majority of his requests," said Seth Cannello, Schriever AFB Fitness Center director. "For 2015, the fitness center budget will support a majority of the tournament and league fees the varsity coaching staff requested."

Varsity sports programs provide opportunities for base athletes to compete off base with other base, civilian and club teams. The programs give skilled military athletes an opportunity to compete off the installation, in competitive programs and serve as a route to higher-level Air Force competition.

Carter said he plans to have the team, nicknamed the Sentinels, initially play in spring and early summer leagues in Colorado Springs, and then pick up bids in tournaments as the year progresses. He added that the level of competition in these leagues is higher than most Schriever members are used to.

"The Springs is probably one of the largest, most competitive groups of people out there," he said. "You've got teams coming up from Pueblo and guys driving down from Denver, it's just a mecca for competition. It's not intramurals and a lot of these guys (who played in October) had their eyes opened to the level of competition out there."

Carter said he has already had a number of people show interest in trying out for the 2015 Sentinels. He, and fellow coach John Kaufman, said they're looking to put together a 20-man roster in order to make sure they don't have to forfeit games if or when duty calls.

"I know everybody out here works different hours," Carter said. "We've got to deal with temporary duties, permanent change of stations should they happen and, of course, shift workers."

Both Carter and Kaufman were quick to note that they're not just looking for bodies either. They want a team that will be competitive.

"We want these guys to win," Kaufman said. "We understand it will be a building year, but we all know what it's like to be competitive and you've got to be the best."

Kaufman said he's looking for players that can compete at a high level, are able to take instruction and be a good teammate.

"What I'm really looking for (at tryouts) is level of effort, the willingness to listen and the willingness to learn," Kaufman said. "There are ten guys out on that field that need to be able to communicate and work together, but also be able to listen to constructive feedback and make sure they take to it. That's what I'm here for; to give them that feedback, let them know what they can do better and what they're doing right."

Carter said he expects the team to be in the hunt for league and division titles from Day 1, though state and national competition is probably a year or two away.

"I think with the level of players we've got here on the base, we can definitely win city leagues," he said. "We expect to play in the Colorado Military Varsity championships and I'm hoping we place. I think the state division level will be just a tad out of reach this year."

Cannello has slightly different expectations for the team.

"I really don't care how many wins or loses they have, I just want them to have fun and enjoy the overall experience," he said.

Tryouts will be held on the base softball field at 3 p.m. on Feb. 10, 12, 17, 19, 24 and 26. Active duty, Reserve, retirees, Department of Defense contractors and dependents (18 or older) are eligible to tryout.

For more information, contact Carter at 567-0361.
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