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All-AF Men's Softball Team focused on winning gold medal after two-year drought

  • Published
  • By Jose T. Garza III
  • JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs
The All-Air Force Men's Softball Team announced its 15-player roster Sept. 2 from its training grounds here.

Representing the Air Force in the Armed Forces Men's Softball Championships:

Senior Airmen Johnny Allen, Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, Chadon Bowman, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and Cody Marshall, Tyndall AFB, Florida.
Staff Sgts. Jose Otero, March Air Reserve Base, California, and Will Twaddell, Scott AFB, Illinois, Tech Sgts. Kevin Cumbie, Spangdahlem AB, Germany, Antonio Rivera III, Hill AFB, Utah and Travis Wollison, Wyoming Air National Guard Base, Wyoming. Master Sgts. Rich Burley, Ellsworth AFB, North Dakota, Travis Herrell, MacDill AFB, Florida, Dexter High, Nellis AFB, Nevada, Lenny Myers, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Roger Stewart, Tyndall AFB, Florida, Chris Markey, Vandenberg, AFB, California, and Mike Charvat, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

The team will compete against All-Army, Marine Corps and Navy men's softball teams in a triple round-robin tournament Sept. 14-19 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and will attempt to win its first championship since 2011. The All-Air Force Men's Softball Team took home silver medals in 2012 and 2013, losing both years to the All-Army team.

Training camp began Aug. 28 at JBSA-Lackland with 26 players, and Coach Steve Shortland said it was a difficult decision process picking the best 15 players to represent the team. He is happy with the final roster, adding that this year's squad is "a special team."

"There is more talent here than we've ever had," the coach said. "It seems like their chemistry is pretty good. As a coach, you can select the best players, but you have to go to be on bended knee every night hoping that the chemistry is right and that is the part you can't put into an equation."

Shortland hopes good team chemistry equates to a gold medal victory because he is accepting nothing less. The coach said that two consecutive second place finishes has left a sour taste in the team's mouths.

"We are going in there with the mindset of being super focused to win it all," he explained.

Two players who are extra focused on winning the Armed Forces Men's Softball title are Master Sgts. Dexter High and Chris Markey. Both Airmen, who are veterans on the team, will retire from the active duty Air Force at the end of the year, and want to end their careers on a high note.

"I would be absolutely elated (to win one final gold medal," said Markey, 30th Medical Group superintendent of education and training, who has been selected to the team eight times since 2002. "I will be the happiest man on the planet. There is not a team I would want to win a gold medal with than this one."

"It will be bittersweet to win a final gold medal in my final year on the All-Air Force Team, after winning a gold medal in my first year in 2002," said High, 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron specialist section chief, who has made seven All-Air Force Men's Team appearances since 2002. "Hopefully my veteran leadership can help this team win."