USA Patriots host amputee softball team at Moriches Athletic Complex


The USA Patriots hosted its annual softball team event at the Moriches Athletic Complex on June 15. The event started with opening ceremonies, including a procession of vehicles such as motorcycles, at 11:30 a.m., and was open to the general public. 

The USA Patriots’ team of amputees and veterans played two games of softball against two teams, the All-Stars and the Seniors, winning the game against the All-Stars.  The event was created as a way to highlight and show support for veterans who have lost limbs.

“After being injured in Afghanistan in January of 2011, I began rehabilitating at Walter Reed and seeing some of the guys while training, it was brought to me that they were starting up an all-veteran/amputee team to play softball, and all I could think about was how I missed the camaraderie and team aspect in my life,” player Matias Ferreira said.  “I haven’t missed a game since the team has been coming to Long Island.”

“My connection to the USA Patriots started after I was injured… while deployed to the Helmand province in Afghanistan,” USA Patriots Athletics board president and player Josh Wege added.  “My vehicle struck a [200-pound] improvised explosive device that rendered me a bilateral below-the-knees amputee.  My love for softball and competition made the USA Patriots an easy fit for me.”

The USA Patriots also runs a program for children.  Their Kids’ Camp aims to support children in the same way as the athletics program supports adults. The camp accepts children between the ages of 8 and 12 with amputations, lost limbs, and “limb differences.” This year’s camp will be hosted in Fond du Lac, Wisc., from July 7 through July 14.

“Our veterans serve as coaches and mentors, teaching our campers adaptive techniques, life lessons, and that life without limbs is limitless,” USA Patriots executive director Rich Cress said.

Cress explained that the USA Patriots’ games use basic slow-pitch softball rules, with a couple of exceptions. Each team can score up to five runs per inning except in the last inning, which has no limit on runs. Each team is also allowed one home run per inning, and the USA Patriots team gets unlimited courtesy runners.

“Over 12 years, we’ve done 10 weekend events,” event organizer Joe Bartumioli said. “We only play able-bodied teams; we don’t play handicapped teams.  There’s always one game in Brookhaven… we’ve done Brooklyn, we’ve done Queens, we’ve done Sag Harbor…”

Attendees at the event were given the opportunity to participate in some raffles, including a raffle hosted by Wreaths Across America, a raffle for various gift baskets, and a raffle for a Mets-themed prize donated by Ron Darling. The latter included tickets to four seats at a Mets home game, batting practice, dinner at the Mets’ stadium, and joining Darling and Keith Hernandez in a broadcasting booth before the game.

“Any donations go 100 percent to the team,” Bartumioli said.

The amputee softball team event will return next year, but Bartumioli will no longer be the event’s coordinator. 

“Something under new leadership will come next year,” he said.

The USA Patriots will be participating in the 49th annual McQuade Softball Tournament in Bismarck, N.D., from June 27 through June 30.  In addition to the Kids’ Camp, the USA Patriots will also be hosting an Alumni Camp for past Kids’ Camp participants from Aug. 7 through Aug. 11.  The USA Patriots team will finish the season in Huntsville, Ala., from Sept. 13 through Sept. 15.


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