Sept. 1, 2016 --
Twice a year the Washington Air National Guard’s Western Air Defense Sector holds a sports day where American and Canadian service members assigned to the unit can engage in a friendly battle for superiority on the hockey ice and on the softball fields.
In February, the Canadian Detachment narrowly won the annual Hockey Classic by a score of 4-3 at the Sprinker Recreation Center in Spanaway.
The softball game was an opportunity just before the Labor Day holiday for the American’s to exact revenge on the softball diamond.
“It is only fair for the Americans to choose a sport that they have a chance to win since they were not born with hockey skates on,” said Canadian Warrant Officer Richard Martin.
“The Canadian’s take playing hockey very seriously since it is their national pastime,” said Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Rebstock, 225th Support Squadron superintendent. “They don’t give us much slack on the ice.”
“Though we do adjust the softball rules slightly for them in order to give them a fighting chance,” Rebstock commented. “The Canadian Detachment only has 15 members assigned and they usually have to field players from their family ranks.”
The amended rules included each team being limited to five runs per inning for a total of seven innings.
The softball game started with the traditional playing of the Canadian and U.S. National Anthems. The 225th Air Defense Group commander, Col. William Krueger, and the Canadian Detachment commander, Lt. Col. Matthew Wappler, simultaneously threw out the first pitch in order to symbolize the long term partnership of Canada and the U.S. working side by side at the Western Air Defense Sector for more than 60 years.
The Canadians were holding their own until about the fifth inning when the American’s really started to pull away, according to Chief Master Sgt. Allan Lawson, 225th Air Defense Squadron superintendent. The American’s won decisively with a 22-7 score.
“Ultimately the main reason for the annual hockey and softball championships is to foster the continued partnership and espirt de corps between our countries while guarding America’s skies 24/7,” said Col. Gregor Leist, Western Air Defense Sector commander.