By: RJ Kaminski
Shootout for Soldiers Ohio head organizer, Merry Troper, began working toward SFS Ohio the moment after last year’s check presentation. Last weekend, her hard work paid off as the event brought more than 7,000 participants, volunteers and spectators out to Thomas Worthington High School between Saturday and Sunday.
“I knew SFS Ohio was going to be special this year, by the way opening ceremonies began,” she said. “My emotions were all over the board, from excitement, to anticipation, to happiness, to the gratitude I have for our Veterans.”
Live music flooded the court of vendors, charity tents and spectators as three different bands performed throughout the 24 hours. The Dave Walters group, Midlife Crisis and The Shelby Love Brothers all took turns hitting the stage, each with a unique set list. The performers hit every generation, every genre and almost of every instrument as even the ukulele made a few appearances on stage.
The bands could be heard quite well from the playing field, but the voices from the press box were even clearer. Local organizer Pete Mackenzie announced in the press box for all 24 hours, inviting several local sports personalities to commentate over the public address system.
“Staffing a press box for 24 hours with volunteers seems like a daunting task, until it dawned on me that the City of Columbus is jam-packed with talent,” Mackenzie said. He had a ton of local talent on the microphone.
Jeff Irwin, Doug Hoover, Mike Alu, Jeff “Tito” Thithoff (FM97.1), Mike Todd, Clay Hall (ABC Channel 6), William Cameron, Latrell Nixon, Tom St. Pierre and Todd McClure all contributed in various ways to make the broadcast possible.
“Keeping the excitement of working the booth was a challenge at times,” Mackenzie said. “However, we made very important introductions, kept the games on time, and kept the fans mostly informed!”
One of those local sports personalities, Mike Todd, had the chance to do something he’s never done before.
“It was very rewarding for me to not only call the game in which my daughter was playing but also a game that my son was coaching,” Todd said. He even received a special message while in the press box from someone serving.
“One of our former players who is serving in the Air Force actually sent us a photo of himself about to get on an Air Force transport,” Todd recounted. “He saw a posting on social media that we were playing for him and the other servicemen and women.”
Todd worked alongside organizer Merry Troper, consistently promoting SFS at Ohio Machine games as well as on social media. Machine midfielder, Dominique Alexander, even came to surprise fans toward the end of SFS Ohio as well as the Ohio Dance Machine girls.
— Ohio Machine (@MachineMLL) July 18, 2016
Emotions flowed from Troper at the check presentation as she praised her committee and all of the volunteers who worked tirelessly to make SFS Ohio’s second event a great success. “I feel very blessed and humbled to see the support SFS Ohio receives from the entire Midwest community,” Troper said. “I am so proud of what SFS Ohio accomplished.”
Similar to 2015, Troper made the same joke about already preparing 364 days in advance. “You bet I’m taking notes for next year,” she laughed.