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How Respect is Earned

  • Published
  • By Irvin Gourdine
  • 43rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
It's been said that respect is something earned, not given - Pope's softball team has definitely earned its respect, not just for them but for all members of Pope. It was just a year ago that no one even knew Pope had a team, but after finishing second in last year's World Series tournament and all the success they had this year coming into the tournament, Pope was the team to beat. 

"When you win two tournaments in a row, the odds are against you winning three in a row," said Joe Renteria, team coach. 

The USSSA World Series has been going on for 10 years and this was Pope's second year participating. With all the Army, Navy, Marine and other Air Force teams that had been participating for years, Team Pope walked into the World Series this year with a target on its back. The competing teams knew they had to go through Team Pope in order to win it all. 

"In softball you have to win the ugly game to get over the hump," said Todd Petzel, pitcher. "It means something to have the respect of your opponent when you know they're not looking past you. To have your opponent to the point they're thankful and grateful they won is a big deal." 

The games they lost were by only one run. One team to defeat Pope was Fort Benning, an Army team loaded with talent. It was a great game to watch; two of the better teams playing against each other. The lead changed almost every inning. When Pope was at bat, their team took the lead; when Ft. Benning was at bat, they took the lead. Rain delayed the game for a few hours but once it stopped and workers were able to get the fields ready for play, the teams were back at it. This game went down to the wire. Ft. Benning held on to their one-run lead in the end sending Team Pope into the losing bracket. They didn't fair well going through the loser's bracket- every game played was tight. They all came down to one run. The opposition had to really give their all to beat them. 

Though Team Pope was unable to finish as well as they would have liked, they earned the respect of other teams, from how well they played on the field to the way they carried themselves off the field. "I think we made a good name for Pope," said Mr. Renteria. "Not only from our ball playing but also how we act off the field and how professional we are -even when we lost, we were gracious losers." 

Team Pope's manner seemed to transcend toward other teams, as some of the players were heard saying they wanted to play for Pope. That alone shows the magnitude of their effect felt across the tournament. The men who played represented more than just a softball team from Pope, but represented Pope AFB as a whole.