CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In 2014, the Wounded Warrior Umpire Academy was founded, it's mission: bring wounded and disabled veterans from all branches of the military together through baseball umpiring.
“We give them seven to eight days worth of training in Charlotte to give them the skills to have the confidence to go out and work 8, 9, 10, 11, 12-year-old baseball and feel like they’re contributing again," Wounded Warrior Umpire Academy founder Gregory Wilson said.
This year’s camp will run from June 10 through June 20, and equipment, uniforms, and materials necessary to begin the career as an umpire are all free of charge.
Organizers say the most important component is to introduce those who feel isolated post-military to a brotherhood.
“For the two hours you’re working a baseball game you can compartmentalize on what’s going on just on the diamond and forget all about all the other things are going on in your life," Wilson said.
So far the Charlotte nonprofit has served 100 people.
Students involved have also successfully moved on to play in college sports or professionally umpire school thanks to the program.
“We get so much out of watching them succeed it’s just absolutely amazing," Wilson said.
The nonprofit is creating a place for people to look out for each other even beyond the chalk lines of the diamond. It’s building a community while also relying on the community to help push its efforts forward.
“We are always looking for corporate sponsors through the academy itself but food is definitely something we need donations for," Melanie Wilson said.
To donate or to learn more about the Wounded Warrior Umpire Academy visit https://www.woundedwarriorua.org/
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