By Jonathan Ochart, USAG Baden-Wuerttemberg Public AffairsJuly 8, 2010
HEIDELBERG, Germany - The Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program teamed up with German elementary school students and sparked a kickball match Friday that was more intense than the heat from the afternoon sun.
While the activity consisted of several kicks and running bases, another feat came alive on the field: strengthening Soldiers' lives while reinforcing the relationship between the American and German communities.
"The best part about being in BOSS is giving back, and being the voice of the Soldiers - making sure that they're taken care of and having fun," said Spc. Alexandria Durazo, Heidelberg BOSS vice-president. "I like to see the smiles on the kids' faces and their expressions when they see us."
Playing kickball is the third event BOSS has conducted with third and fourth graders at the Englisches Institute Grundschule near Mark Twain Village.
For the past two years, Soldiers in BOSS have brought the American tradition of Thanksgiving to the students through crafts and cuisine.
While cheering on classmates and the Soldiers on his team, fourth-grader Adam Berger said, "It's fun and exciting to have Army people here. I learned about Thanksgiving before when the Soldiers brought pie and turkey, and now I learned how to play kickball with them."
In addition to learning how to play the game, "it was fun to play kickball with them," said Cara Vetter, another fourth-grade student at the Englisches Institut.
The alike enjoyed the event, which involved a number of home runs as well as strike-outs. Nothing prevented teammates from coming together and playing an unforgettable game.
"BOSS is a whole different world," said Spc. William Perkins, BOSS president. "You get the chance to do things such as coming here and doing this. It's great giving back to your host nation community, which is very important because we're guests in this country."
The kids appreciate the Soldiers spending time with them, Perkins said, and they tell their parents about the great things they did with the Soldiers."
Once the match ended, the students and Soldiers completed push-ups together. While exhausted from a lively match, both children and adults learned not only how to play the game, but how to rely on each other's abilities as in the American and German communities.
"The continuity is amazing," Perkins said. "They remembered us from the last time we came here, and we built a connection. We strengthened the connection today in this school class. They're great kids, and we had a fun day."