Baseball team throws “Veteran’s Night” to honor military vets

By Carolyn Freeman

Senior night is a special night for any athlete, but this year the baseball team threw a curveball into the ceremonies. Dubbed “Veteran’s Night,” the team worked in conjunction with the Wounded Warriors Project to honor the service of local U.S. military veterans.

The April 30 game against Northwest followed a first pitch ceremony, a “thanks for service” ceremony and a special rendition of the national anthem. In addition to the typical senior night activities, there were also raffles throughout the night for prizes like Nationals tickets, t-shirts and gift cards benifitting Wounded Warriors.

The event was free for students to attend, and the first 140 to arrive received a WWP wristband.

The team asked for donations from local businesses and organizations, and raised over $4,000 for the event. Bethesda restaurant Nando’s Peri-Peri provided free chicken sandwiches, and there were donation jars set up for spectators.

Inspiration for the event came from resource teacher Joe Mornini’s Team River Runner rehabilitation program, a separate organization that WWP sometimes works with. Several baseball players visited Mornini’s program before the season to help out, and in turn, some Team River Runner members were invited to attend Veteran’s Night.

Mornini was pleased with the recent increase of awareness for his cause, but also stressed the importance of continuing to increase support of veterans.

“Just because you are aware doesn’t mean you stop there,” Mornini said. “We’re a strong nation that will stand up for everyone—at the beginning of every game we see that message. You start off looking at the flag, but you don’t necessarily think about the veterans who raised it.”

Hisle pitched the initial idea for Veteran’s Night after experiencing similar events in the past.

“When I was at Gonzaga, the lacrosse and hockey teams both did successful projects with Wounded Warriors,” he said. “Seeing and appreciating the transformations some of them make can really honor our veterans service and show how much the WWP helps them recover.”

The baseball team has always hosted a community night with free admission, but they’ve never run a charity event like this, pitcher Gabe Steinberg said.

“This year I think it’s much bigger and much better because we have a cause we can all understand and rally around,” he said.

Though this was just the event’s debut, Hisle hopes it will start a tradition of work with Wounded Warriors that will continue in the future.

The team wants to set an example for everyone else, and hopes this event will inspire others to help.

“If we can create an experience that can get people to say, ‘Hey, what can I do for the cause?’ That’s really our goal.” Steinberg said.