By: Sara Stanley
Year after year, Shootout for Soldiers has tons of dedicated fans from around the country come out and participate in their events. One fan in particular is veteran Derek Michelson who was in active duty for over three years, joining the military directly out of high school. Derek heard about Shootout for Soldiers through a social media posting in the first year of the event. Derek enjoyed the concept of bringing his two worlds together: the military and lacrosse. He explained how “the opportunity of playing such a wonderful sport while simultaneously helping other service members was too great to pass up!”
There are many different aspects to a Shootout for Soldiers event, but Derek certainly had a favorite: “The veteran’s game was a blast! I knew a good majority of the guys there but I was still able to meet a few more.”
For many veterans like Derek, Shootout is the perfect opportunity to network and meet other veterans. Derek enjoyed the event so much, he wanted to bring it to his-then home Colorado. He explained, “When expansion talks were happening, I saw it as a great opportunity to bring the event to Colorado.” Though Derek submitted a failed bid, the following year Shootout was brought to Colorado.
Derek has been involved with lacrosse since the 7th grade. Once at Fort Riley, he got involved with the Kansas State Men’s Lacrosse Team (MCLA). K-State was the closest program to Derek and he wanted to “stay involved with any free time I did have.” After attending college in Colorado, Derek stayed in the state for a little playing for the Denver Military Lacrosse team.
The first game he ever played with the team was at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Describing the experience, Derek explained “the space was a cool experience to play at, but the guys I played with seemed like a good group and I continued to be a part of the team from then on.”
When asked about what he is most looking forward to going into this year’s Shootout for Soldiers event, Derek explained how this year he will be trying out a new city: Houston. Moving to Texas for work, Derek is still actively involved in the sport, having just been certified to be an official. He continued, “I haven’t had an opportunity yet to meet much of the lacrosse community here so I hope to play in the veteran’s game again, and this time be one of the new faces that gets to meet everyone else.”