By: RJ Kaminski
Jason Dote of Columbus, Ohio had the opportunity to partake in multiple different games at Shootout for Soldiers Ohio. The team he plays on, the Ball Hawgs, fundraised more than $2,3000 and came out to play in record numbers during the a.m. hours. He had the chance with play his Ball Hawg teammates, collegiate players, as well as his three daughters, all in one 24-hour span.
“As I was driving to the event at 4:15 a.m. for a 5 a.m. game time, I started questioning my decision to participate. Would my body hold up at this hour of the morning? Did I bring enough water to sustain my 38 year-old-existence for two hours of, what should be (and was), an intense lacrosse game? Did I really want to sacrifice a few hours of sleep to play some lacrosse that I play every Thursday night, anyway? This could end up being a bad situation, as I’m not 18 anymore.
As I got closer to the school and saw the glow of the stadium lights above the surrounding buildings, I got excited. I thought, ‘This is the most perfect thing I could be doing right now.’ I get to play lacrosse, a game, while men and women, much braver than I am, were sacrificing everything to make sure we had the opportunity to do this exact thing I’m questioning. By playing a game, we have the opportunity to try to support, and in the same vein pay our respects to veterans and active service men and women that protect our freedom day-in and day-out, whether we realize their efforts on a real-time basis, or not.
Then, I pulled into the parking lot of Thomas Worthington High School and I saw how many cars were there. It just felt right. I saw Hawgs pulling into parking spaces and getting out of their cars with lacrosse equipment in hand. The Ball Hawgs had about 40 guys that dressed for our two-hour game. 40, 35+ year-olds dressed for the opportunity to play in tribute of our nation’s military, and the sacrifices they and their families have made and continue to make everyday. It was humbling, to say the least.
The thing that made this event so special was the daddy/mommy/daughter game at 4 p.m. on Saturday. We registered, with a total sponsorship donation from Stafford Technology, for our girls to play a game in the Shootout for Soldiers; accepting donations along the way. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find another team of the same age to play. Meredith Murphy suggested we hold the daddy/mommy/daughter game. She thought that since we didn’t have a team to play, we should let these little girls know that their sport and their efforts matter, and no one knows that better than their parents. I proposed the idea to the parents about a week before the Shootout for Soldiers. We were ecstatic with the response. There will be very few other, if any, chances to play side-by-side with your daughter on a field with a running scoreboard…ever. Take advantage now! They did.
The parents wanted to share in this event with their daughters, and everyone had a blast. It was an hour in time where we weren’t just parents and coaches, we were teammates. Not only did my eight year old, Layton, play with me in the game, but I also had the pleasure of my 15-year-old daughter, Madison, playing as well. My Outlaws had several players I have coached since they were in third grade play in the game and coach the little girls, too. I even had my 3-year-old, Murphy, run a shift with Madison, Layton & I. It was an absolutely amazing experience to play on the same field with my daughters. I don’t know if I will ever have this experience again, but I will never look back on this experience with a ‘what could have been’ question.
In addition to my Ball Hawgs teammates that are Veterans and service members, I also had the pleasure of coaching my Worthington Outlaws and WYB 1/2 Lil’ Rebels, as well as helping with the WYB Maniax. I even got to play in the college Stars vs. Stripes game, too. The ‘38’ connected to my age never mattered. Every person and every team accepted all players, fans, vendors, volunteers, parents, staff, EVERYONE! I have never had an experience like this and I cannot wait until next year at Thomas Worthington High School! We raised over $45,000 this year. I am hopeful that next year we can raise over $100,000. We are a remarkable community with a rich lacrosse and military history. Let’s reach this goal, Ohio. The clock is ticking…”