Airman makes All-Air Force men's softball team
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- An Airman from the 36th Maintenance Squadron recently made the All-Air Force Men’s Slow Pitch Softball Team.
Staff Sgt. Garrett Gapp, 36th MXS NCO in charge of maintenance flight, was one of 51 applicants chosen to try-out for the team. He would later earn a position as a first baseman.
Gapp played softball at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., and was later selected for the North Dakota All-Star Team comprised of the top military players in the state.
“I have always loved softball,” Gapp said. “I started playing for my base team and it took off from there. Being selected for the North Dakota All-Star Team, I knew I had a chance at bigger opportunities. I began building relationships, networking and focused on practicing and perfecting my game to eventually be able to try-out for the Air Force team.”
After arriving at Andersen, Gapp felt he was ready to try-out for the team, but had to wait another year due to low manning in his section. Despite the setback, Gapp did not stop playing. He went on to coach the Andersen AFB varsity softball team and continued to practice in hopes of trying out the next year.
“I was disappointed, but I certainly wasn’t going to give up,” he said. “My team helped me practice, my wife kept me motivated and I was getting better and better each week. I started to seek out other opportunities in the Pacific region and before I knew it I was traveling to play softball.”
Gapp was able to participate in the 2016 PACWIDE softball tournament in Seoul, Korea and the 2016 Firecracker tournament in Okinawa, Japan. During the tournaments, he was able to build his reputation and make a name for himself in the softball world.
“Networking was key since I was able to meet great people who saw my potential which ultimately came in handy,” he said.
When the time came again for Air Force Team try-outs, Gapp applied and was given the opportunity to compete. He was not only excited, but ready to show the Air Force what he could do.
“I knew the try-outs would have the best of the best, but my goal was to go out there, play hard and make the team.”
Gapp packed his bags and headed out to Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, Sept 2016. The 23 hopefuls’ played a total of two games a day before the final All-Air Force team was selected.
“I played my best and on the last day when they called my name, I was relieved that all my hard work paid off,” he said. “I felt great that I made it and looked forward to moving on to training camp.”
Gapp attended training camp the following weeks and suffered an unforeseen injury that could have taken him off the team.
“I had a small tear in my left oblique,” he said. “This injury meant that I couldn’t play for the next few days. I felt like I was taking someone’s spot and was letting the team down.”
Despite his injury he still remained positive because he thought he could get better in time for 2016 Armed Forces Softball Tournament.
During his down-time, a physical therapist tended to his injury and nursed him back to health three days before the big game.
Despite missing out on days of conditioning, Gapp bounced back and practiced hard with his teammates in hopes of bringing home the gold.
“It’s game day and we are all pumped; it’s us against the Army, Navy and Marines,” he said. “This was the game that we all worked so hard for, and the gold is what we were going for.”
The team kicked off the tournament with a winning streak. With a total of nine games played, the team earned second place with a record score of 5-4 bringing home the silver medal.
“We played well but not well enough,” he said. “I’m a very competitive guy and I believe there were a couple of games that I think we should have won, but at the end of the day, we played hard and had fun doing it and that’s what matters.”
Although the season has now ended, Gapp plans to continue to try-out as All-Air Force Softball Team veteran for years to come.
“The game doesn’t stop here for me, I will still continue to practice and coach the varsity team here and travel,” he said. “I am very passionate about softball and I want to share it with others and encourage others to practice and consider the All-Air Force team.”
Gapp uses his love of the sport to be a positive influence on and off base. He recently planned a softball tournament for both military and local community members to raise money for a family that lost loved ones in a fire.
“Staff Sgt. Gapp is an exceptional Airman, we were more than excited and willing to send him to try-out for the All-Air Force team,” said Maj. Scott Schlegelmilch, 36th MXS commander. “We know he has a passion for softball and had no doubt that he would make the team. He makes us proud both here at work and on the field. The Air Force couldn’t have chosen a better first baseman.”