By: RJ Kaminski
Players and volunteers alike battled through the “Hotlanta” heat for last week’s Shootout for Soldiers Atlanta, and some volunteers even stuck around for the entire 24 hours. Kennesaw Mountain High School played host to the event, with the help of a number of local organizers.
Tim Coons, alongside fellow organizers Brett Stevens, James Christ, and Jay Puckett worked months in advance to prepare for July 2nd. Even still, Coons admitted after the event that it took both a collective team and family effort to pull it off.
“My father Dennis Coons and stepmother Linda, drove from Tulsa Oklahoma just to help out with the event,” he said. “Whether it was going to get ice or water, or doing a laundry run to clean the jerseys, they were there for it all.”
Coons made it a family affair on the volunteer side, while others chose to do so on the field. Two mothers, who had never played lacrosse before, Merrilyn David and Sarah Serbinski, experienced their first dose of action at SFS Atlanta – and they did it with their daughters. Check out their full account of the day here.
Another organizer, Jay Puckett, brought the entire family out, pads and all!
“Getting to play lacrosse with my family was something I never imagined happening,” Puckett said. He took his wife up on the idea and got the entire gang out there for an hour of play.
“My daughter is a goalie and she jumped on the chance to play against some of her classmates,” Puckett said. “I hear she even did some trash talking.”
As players and their families walked in past the registration tent, they were greeted by the national and local charities that received the proceeds from the event. Charlie Gressett of the Gary Sinise Foundation admired the spirit and atmosphere those at the event collectively created.
“Even though Atlanta’s weather wasn’t super accommodating, the people from the greater Atlanta area were great,” Gressett said. “New waves of smiling faces came, hour after hour.”
It wasn’t just human volunteers that interacted with attendees. Healing for Heroes brought a number of four-legged friends willing to help. Folks had a chance to interact with service dogs and service dogs in training that specialize in assisting Veterans.
As the event came to an end, Coons had the chance to collect his thoughts and think about the meaning and future of Shootout for Soldiers Atlanta.
“It is about giving back – giving back to the people we love, the game we love, to the county we love and most of all the men and women that accept the noble profession of defending us all!” he said. “Next year has started now and will be even better!”