The inaugural Win for the Warriors baseball tournament will take place March 10 at Rock Creek Park as the North Georgia Ambush 9U baseball team hosts seven teams from across six Georgia counties in an event designed to raise money and awareness for disabled military service members.
The tournament was the brainchild of volunteer and event organizer Kimberly Maloney, who said the event took just over a year to bring together.
“It’s been an idea in the back of my mind for quite some time now,” Maloney said. “I wanted a way to bring the sacrifices of warriors to a level that the boys would understand, and I wanted them to get the idea, a true sense of what they can do to give back to the community. Even at 9 years old.”
Each member of the Ambush team has been assigned a wounded veteran with whom they have corresponded prior to the tournament. The players will honor their veterans on the field by wearing the veteran’s name on their jersey in place of their own.
“The veterans have been wonderful. They have really taken the boys in and listened to all of their questions,” Maloney said. “Some legitimate questions, some just 9 year olds being 9, and they have answered them all.”
The tournament will be an all-day affair with the teams playing a series of pool games on all four Rock Creek fields starting at 9 a.m. The games will determine the seeding for the afternoon’s single-elimination format, followed by opening ceremonies between noon and 1 p.m. with the national colors presented by the Dawson County High School JROTC cadets.
Veteran and double-amputee Samuel Walley, a Winder native, will throw out the first pitch and the sponsored veterans will be introduced to the crowd by their North Georgia Ambush players during a brief ceremony in the first game of the afternoon.
“For this first tournament only the Ambush players will be sponsoring warriors,” Maloney said. “We wanted to start small, and make sure we got the event up and going. Next year we hope to expand sponsorship to the other teams in the tournament.”
All proceeds from the event, along with the proceeds from two previously held fundraisers, will benefit the For The Warriors Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit organization with a mission to assist disabled military service members as they integrate back into society and attempt to live a rewarding, fulfilling and productive life.
“It’s been awesome to watch this idea grow from something small like teaching the boys about sacrifice, showing them what they can do at 9,” Maloney said. “It has grown beyond that. The boys have really rallied around this cause.”
For additional information on the For The Warriors Foundation, visit their website at www.forthewarriorsfoundation.org.