The Ramstein Rams varsity men’s and women’s softball teams are scheduled to hold tryouts at the Southside Fitness Center softball fields on Ramstein Air Base March 19 to 29.
The tryouts are open to active-duty military members, dependents, retirees, contractors, and “basically anyone who has access to the installation,” said Tech. Sgt. Emmanuel Santillan, men’s team assistant coach. Participants must be at least 18 years old.
Santillan, a member of the team since 2014, said the Rams will compete against other U.S. Air Forces in Europe teams, as well as local teams and organizations at neighboring U.S. Army installations. For games that require travel, members may be granted permissive TDY under rules for Air Force-related sports at their commander’s discretion.
While there are other softball organizations in the Kaiserslautern Military Community, the Ramstein Rams are the official varsity team of Ramstein AB, endorsed by the 786th Force Support Squadron.
The amount of people who try out has decreased in the last five years according to the men’s team head coach, Master Sgt. Thomas Hoover. “Softball in Europe is starting to lose its luster,” he said. “However, we are trying to revive it and bring certain things back, like a European championship.”
But that revival requires renewed interest, and the coaches hope anyone interested in softball will consider trying out. The Ramstein Fitness Program sports director and coaches determine the number of players allowed on the men’s and women’s teams, but rosters typically include 20 players.
“That’s the baseline number we go with, but if we have 20 sharp players, and we have that 21st player who is really sharp, we could make that call as coaches in conjunction with the sports director,” said Hoover.
Potential players, even those who have been involved with the team in prior years, must earn their spots. “No one is officially on the team until after tryouts,” said Hoover. “Everyone competes for their spot every year – including us as the coaches.”
The men’s and women’s softball season begins in April and ends in September. Hoover said tryouts are designed to challenge participants. “Once the season starts, you’re playing softball from eight in the morning until eight at night sometimes, so tryouts are not a joke,” he said.
Despite the demanding season, both Santillan and Hoover said their love of the game keeps them returning to the Rams.
“I’ve been in the Air Force 13 years now, and what keeps me in is the camaraderie,” said Santillan. “This softball team takes it to another level. We’re a band of brothers and sisters.”
Most tournaments take place on the weekend, which helps by minimally impacting the mission for players with a Monday through Friday work schedule. However, Hoover noted that while team involvement is “a lot of commitment, the military comes first.”
Although team fundraisers sometimes ease the financial burden, travel costs are the responsibility of individual players.
To try out, players must show up to any of the scheduled dates with a glove, protective equipment, and rubberized (not metal) cleats. Tryouts for the men’s team will be on March 20, 22, 27, and 29 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and March 24 from noon to 3 p.m. Tryouts for the women’s team will be on March 19, 21, 26, and 28 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and March 25 from noon to 3 p.m.