By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Many Tupelo residents, softball fans and military veterans turned out to watch the only all-amputee softball team take on Tupelo’s police, fire and water and light departments this weekend.
The Wounded Warriors amputee softball team is made up of players who have lost appendages while serving the United States military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I was in the army for a couple of years, got out and went to college and was in prosthetics my whole life with the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said head coach and founder David Van Sleet. “I was also around the game of softball my entire life so I put my three passions together and came up with this crazy idea that swept the country.”
Nick Clark flew in from Seattle to take on Tupelo Water and Light and the Tupelo Fire Department on Saturday.
He lost his left leg below the knew while serving in Afghanistan in 2007.
“When I got injured, one of my first thoughts was that I wasn’t going to get to play sports again,” Clark said. “I rehabbed for about a year and got back to it.”
Now Clark skateboards, plays soccer and mountain climbs.
“When I first got out of the hospital and retired I started getting into basketball and running a lot,” Clark said. “I played baseball for 13 years so when I heard about the team I was all over it. I was like, ‘I’ve got to be on this team.’”
The team runs on donation and sponsorships and Clark said he thinks they are able to keep playing because people are drawn to the team.
“Number one, not a lot of people have seen guys with no arms and legs playing softball at a high level,” he said. “And if you’re involved in the military, it’s a really cool way to show support.”
First baseman Josh Wege of Wisconsin said it’s been a great opportunity.
“I feel like I would have been back but this has helped me out in terms of confidence,” he said. “As an amputee you never know what you can do until you go out there and do it.”