Students at bat: adaptive sports build camaraderie

Story and photos by Senior Airman Devin Boyer
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Nick Waller, European Guzzlers softball player, carries James Lucas, Kaiserslautern Middle School student, while running to second base during the Adaptive Sports softball game at Donnelly Park May 4 on Ramstein. The Guzzlers helped the special-needs students during the game as part of the Adaptive Sports program.

Ramstein and Kaiserslautern middle and high school special-needs students went toe-to-toe in a friendly game of adaptive-sports softball at Donnelly Park, May 4.

The Guzzlers, a varsity community softball team, joined the children to build camaraderie and morale between students, their friends and both immediate and military families.

“The way we make it adaptive is we have the international Guzzlers team come out and buddy up with the students, and we use either a whiffle or a soft softball to play with,” said Senior Airman Allison Malaska, 86th Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician and event coordinator.

Although the game is slightly altered, the goal is to make the students feel equivalent.

“It’s important that we make them feel like they’re no different and part of our community just as much as anyone else,” said Malaska.

Col. Brandon Hileman, 86th Airlift Wing vice commander, said adaptive sports builds friendship and camaraderie.

Chief Master Sgt. Aaron D. Bennett, 86th Airlift Wing command chief, throws the first pitch during the Adaptive Sports softball game at Donnelly Park May 4 on Ramstein. Special-needs students faced each other in the game to build friendships and morale.

“One of our priorities in the 86th is “Forging ready and resilient leaders,” said Hileman. “Through adaptive sports, we continue to forge resilience by building and enriching camaraderie and friendships — amongst both our Airmen and our families.

“I’m proud of our team and we are happy that we’ve got this opportunity to help enable our Adaptive Sports program.”

The Adaptive Sports program will continue to host events throughout the year.

U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Patrick Waltman, European Guzzlers softball player, high fives students after the Adaptive Sports softball game at Donnelly Park May 4 on Ramstein. As part of tradition, opposing teams will slap hands and exchange the words “good game” to show respect and good sportsmanship.

Col. Brandon Hileman, 86th Airlift Wing vice commander, gives a speech to commence the Adaptive Sports softball game at Donnelly Park May 4 on Ramstein. Hileman spoke about the impact the Adaptive Sports events have on the students by building camaraderie and friendships.

Matthew Thompson, Ramstein High School student, gives U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Patrick Waltman, European Guzzlers softball player, a high five during the Adaptive Sports softball game at Donnelly Park May 4 on Ramstein. The Guzzlers came out to the event to support and cheer on the special-needs students.