The second annual Hometown Hero Outdoors and Fishing With Vets Softball Tournament will take place at the Wadena Softball Complex, beginning Friday, Sept. 13 and concluding Sept. 15.
The tournament is the brainchild of Jason Wegscheid, who is the current Vice President of Fishing With Vets. The event combines his love for helping veterans with his appreciation for the game of softball.
Wegscheid attended a Wounded Warrior Project Softball Tournament in the Twin Cities and thought about bringing a tournament to this area. He has been active in softball since he was a junior in high school, and recently became active with the Fishing With Vets program.
He hosted his first-ever tournament last year, which drew 19 teams for the one-day event. The first year tournament generated quite a bit of interest and raised more than $ 4,000, which was split evenly between Hometown Hero Outdoors and Fishing With Vets.
Wegscheid’s passion for the tournament came from an event five years ago with Fishing With Vets. It was the group’s first trip to Lake of the Woods, and Wegscheid was going through a rough time in his life.
“Those guys were so uplifting, encouraging and provided a great experience,” Wegscheid said. “They really helped me out, kept me moving forward and I pursued helping them and eventually became the Vice President. I enjoy helping veterans, and I love to play softball and I thought, why not mix the two?”
Wegscheid said the experience is very humbling, when you see all the support you get. He said it made him smile to see the love that the people in the softball community have for helping people out and donating to good causes..
While the tournament will have several local teams, it has also drawn in teams from Wahpeton, N.D., Fargo, N.D., Bemidji, Park Rapids, Detroit Lakes, Brainerd, Sauk Centre, Staples, Browerville, Alexandria and Nelson.
“There are people from everywhere to come and play ball,” Wegscheid said. “To see that turnout for a second year tournament and first year for Co-Ed is incredible. There are tournaments that have been around for 20 years that struggle to get 15 teams.”
The tournament will begin with four games on Friday, and continue through the day on Saturday with action beginning at 8 a.m. The Wadena VFW will be on hand to present the colors and Phoenix Gray will sing the National Anthem on Saturday.
The tournament field is full, with 24 men’s teams and seven co-ed teams taking part in the three-day event.
Even though the tournament is filled, Wegscheid said there would be a stand for donations and they are looking for volunteers to help out with the tournament. It is a family-friendly event, and will have a concession stand.
Wegscheid said he is grateful for all the support from area businesses. For more information, contact Wegscheid at 218-640-6493.