Southlake Times > News
Carroll players raise money for Wounded Warriors team
Tim Horton and Matt Kinsey had never met a player on the Carroll Senior High School baseball or softball teams.
Yet, they traveled a great distance to thank the Carroll players for helping a team the Dragons had never met either.
Saturday, varsity and sub-varsity players from both programs teamed up to host a charity softball tournament at Bob Jones Park to benefit the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team (WWAST). Horton flew in from San Antonio to participate, and Kinsey came in from Indiana.
The Wounded Warriors squad, which is composed of 14 players -- veterans or active duty soldiers who lost a limb while serving the country post 9/11 -- travels around the country to play against teams made up of other service members, such as police and fire departments, as well as military teams.
Saturday's event featured six co-ed teams -- five teams made up of Carroll student athletes and one composed of faculty and parents -- facing off for a chance at a title. Horton and Kinsey each played on a student athlete team.
As darkness set in, Wrecking Crew, a team comprised of student athletes and former Texas Ranger outfielder Kevin Mench, was crowned the champion. Mench has helped the WWAST with previous events.
But Saturday’s games were about more than a team's record.
"We wanted to give back to these guys who put their lives on the line for us," said David Heintzelman, the event coordinator.
Last year, Carroll's baseball and softball teams raised money for the WWAST by soliciting donations. This year, Heintzelman said, the teams wanted to expand their efforts. He said the goal next year is to increase the tournament to include teams from neighboring communities as well.
American Airlines flew Horton and Kinsey in to participate in the event for free.
"Our general manager called and asked if I would want to play for us," said Kinsey, who plays shortstop for the Wounded Warriors. "When I heard that high school kids and their parents were doing this, I jumped on it. It's neat to see that young people are paying attention to us. It's good to see them support the veterans."
Kinsey lost his right foot after stepping on a land mine in Afghanistan. Horton lost the lower half of his left leg after a bomb exploded under a vehicle he was driving in Iraq.
Proceeds were raised by ticket and concession sales, $10 donations from each Carroll player and pledges made for every home run hit. Mench added to the pledge total by smashing three home runs. As of Monday, the tournament had raised $1,600, not counting concession stand revenue.
Money helps WWAST continue to compete, which players said is important, especially while overcoming a war-time injury.
"It was tough," Horton said of playing sports after his injury. "But that's what got me back to enjoying life. It got me back to doing things that people thought I wouldn't be able to do."
But getting back to competing required some adjustments.
"Having a prosthetic isn't a natural thing," Kinsey said.
Horton said it changes the way he plays the game.
"I have to play smarter instead of harder because I'm not as fast," Horton said.
But they said the competitive fire is always there.
"We play good teams, and we play bad teams," Kinsey said. "But we want to win every time. All 14 of us take this very seriously."
They also take their opportunity to spread a message seriously, too. When they're not competing, players from WWAST spend time talking to children in similar situations about their experiences and how they overcame obstacles.
"Everyone has stuff in their life that is difficult, but you have to have a good attitude and play as hard as you can," Horton said. "We look for kids who have disabilities and show them that we're getting back out there, so they can too."
That's a message not lost on Carroll players. Senior Conner Combs, who plays on Carroll's varsity baseball team, was on the same team as Horton.
"He played college ball, and that's what I want to do," Combs said. "It was inspirational to see that he is still doing what he loves."
Combs said it was even better to see how well Horton played despite his injury.
"It's crazy how he's able to move around," Combs said. "He was playing middle infield for us and was still making all the plays. He's pretty athletic."
WWAST’s next big event is a kids camp in June in which they will take 25 children with prosthetics to Disney World and also teach them softball skills.
"We'll show them that they can do anything if they give it their all," Kinsey said.