FORT SILL, OKLA. (Aug. 2, 2023) – The temperatures were in the triple digits every day when twenty-three Soldiers arrived at Fort Sill for the United States All-Army Men’s Softball Team trials July 18, 2023.
“We brought 23 Soldier athletes to Fort Sill for the trial camp portion,” said head coach Chief Warrant Officer 5 Elmer Mason, who is assigned to the Special Operations Command at Fort Liberty, North Carolina. “These players come from across the United States and then some come from as far as Korea. Alaska, and Hawaii.”
On turf that was over 150 degrees, Mason emphasized that the All-Army softball program is about more than camaraderie and love of the game – it’s about shaping character on and off the field. Mason said the ability to play – and coach – the sport deals with shaping a Soldier’s character, both on and off the field.
“One of my mottos is we before me – the team is always first. It’s not about you as an individual. I tell the Soldiers to stay humble and be a servant teammate. Being the best teammate should be your goal and that makes the best team you can possibly be. Then that’s going to be a healthy environment,” said Mason.
Mason challenged the athletes to make his job difficult in selecting the 15 players for the 2023 All-Army Men’s Softball Team.
“Evaluations are based on games, drills and athletic data points. We consider how fast someone runs, how well they situationally hit, their overhand arm speed, and how hard they throw,” said Mason, a 26-year veteran of the Men’s All-Army softball program.
Mason said the Soldiers are ambassadors for the U.S. Army, the All-Army Sports Program and their respective units.
“We challenge them to participate in intermural sports with their company or local battery when they get back to their duty station,” said Mason. “Go out there and show these guys what sportsmanship and competent, healthy competition is all about.”
The 15 members of the All-Army Men’s Softball team were selected July 24. The team has practiced by playing doubleheaders with local teams and traveling to Oklahoma City and Tulsa to play teams there.
The team will continue training until they travel to Oklahoma City on Aug. 4 for a round robin tournament against other services from Aug. 5 - 10. The two teams with the best record will compete for the championship and the U.S. Armed Forces Gold Medal.
“The ultimate goal or mission this year is to bring the gold back home – back to the Army,” said Mason. “These guys are really hungry. We’ve won the silver medal for the last two years and they are going to bring home the gold. That’s our motto this year – #goldvibez.”
See the pictures of the Army Men’s Softball Trial Camp at https://www.flickr.com/photos/fortsillcannoneer/albums/72177720309925298.