HEALTH

Wounded warrior softball team gets ready to hit home

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A one-of-a-kind softball team will take the field Friday for the first time. All of the players are amputees, injuries they sustained as servicemembers.

An artificial leg is left on a wheelchair during the 34th Annual National Wheelchair Softball Tournament in New York in this Aug. 2010 photo (Photo: Associated Press)

It is the world's only all-amputee softball team. All players served in Iraq or Afghanistan, and many are from the Washington region. They say the week Osama bin Laden was killed is a great one to showcase their accomplishments while they’re working to recover from their injuries.

Their playing style is unique. Eleven players lost their legs below the knee. “We have three guys who lost their leg above the knee,” said David Van Sleet, the team’s founder. “We have a young man who has lost both his legs on our team.”

An outfielder goes for the ball, but then has to quickly get rid of his glove to throw it. He never missed a beat. “I lost an arm. I'm a four-quarter amputee -- meaning I have no shoulder, no collarbone. Nothing,” said Greg Reynolds, who hails from Massachusetts. The young soldiers battle-tested their deployments are competitive, but also crave the camaraderie of military brethren.

Marine William Gibson plays catcher on the team with a $100,000 prosthetic leg. He says the team gives him talking points in his job at the Pentagon finding work for wounded warriors.

“It's important for me to be able to explain to a lot of private industry or a lot of public or government positions, when they want to hire a wounded warrior, what the troop capabilities are,” Gibson explains.

If you want to see Gibson and the whole team play, they take on the FBI at George Mason on Friday. Saturday bound to be a real show stopper when they try to beat a medical team from Walter Reed Army Medical Center made up of the very men and women who were involved in their amputations. On Sunday, they’re playing the Naval Academy.

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