By: RJ Kaminski
Shootout for Soldiers California brought together elementary and high school players, active duty servicemen, veterans, as well as participants who drove more than 900 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada. 4,300 event spectators and 675 players walked through the front gates and onto the field to help make California’s inaugural Shootout for Soldiers a success.
The Shootout for Soldiers team traveled from coast to coast in an RV to bring the event to Dana Point. The team had stops in Nashville, Dallas, and Albuquerque, traveling more than 2,000 miles. Videographer Brett Roberts believes all of those miles traveled paid off.
“I think I can speak for everyone in the RV when I say traveling across the country was worth it,” Roberts said. “I’m really excited to see where the event will expand to next year and cannot wait to start the 2016 tour.”
Matt Reese, a Midshipman and friend of the Shootout team, brought friends to play alongside him in the veterans’ game.
“It was an incredible experience to make it out to Shootout for Soldiers California and play with alumni from the academy,” Reese said. “The passion that the Shootout team shows through organizing this event for the brave men and women who serve our country is truly remarkable.”
Reese played alongside those his own age as well as Veterans twice his age. Marine Corps Sergeant Lance Crafton participated in his third Shootout for Soldiers this summer by playing in the event’s first west coast Vets game. He played in Long Island, Baltimore and now California as well.
“I loved playing at SFS California!” exclaimed Crafton. “The weather and scenery couldn’t have been better and the most important thing is that I got to make new friends while playing lacrosse to benefit fellow veterans.”
Sergeant Crafton claims that Shootout for Soldiers helps cure those invisible wounds he has endured since returning home.
“Shootout for Soldiers has also helped me by being more outgoing through the love of the sport of lacrosse,” Crafton said. “My PTSD makes me a bit reserved but on the field for Shootout for Soldiers, I am in the company of friends with whom I share a bond even though we just met. It’s the best group therapy I could get!”
History was also made at Shootout for Soldiers California with a record-breaking National Anthem performance. Appropriately on the birthday of Francis Scott Key, Stange sang the Anthem 24 times to kick off each and every game at Dana Hills High School.
“The organizers of Shootout for Soldiers are a testament to the hearts of young Americans who are choosing to use their talents to make an impact,” Stange said. “I’m humbled to have been part of such a patriotic effort.”
With an ocean front view along Dana Point, a 75 degree day, and a helpful lacrosse community, Shootout for Soldiers California proved that the event can be successful on either coast.