Offutt Airman earns spot on All-Air Force Softball squad

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  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

A U.S. Strategic Command intelligence analyst here recently tried out and earned a spot on the All-Air Force Men’s Slow Pitch Softball team.

Senior Airman Mike Storey was one of 24 Airmen out of 51 applicants selected to attend the All-Air Force softball camp at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, and one of only 15 to make the team.

“It was a real honor to play for the All-Air Force Softball team and be given the opportunity to compete against the best the military has to offer,” Storey said. “It is definitely something I will carry with me and remember for the rest of my life.

A Bellevue, Nebraska native, Storey was drafted as a pitcher by the Cleveland Indians in 2004 after a standout baseball career at Bellevue West High School. He was with the Indians organization until 2009 when an arm injury ended his career.

After returning to Bellevue, Storey decided to join the Air Force in 2010.

“My dad was in the Air Force for 26 years and retired as an E-8 and so I just felt as though I needed to serve,” he said.

After attending basic training and graduating from technical school, Storey was assigned to the 20th Intelligence Squadron at Offutt before moving over to STRATCOM in 2012.

On the field, Storey has been playing for one of the best slow pitch teams in the state of Nebraska for the past few years. However, this year he helped create a new team, the Midwest Guzzlers, made up of all Team Offutt members. It was through their encouragement and his own curiosity that he decided to try out for the All-Air Force team.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play with several All-Air Force team members and coaches and it didn't take long for me to realize that Storey had All-Air Force talent,” said Master Sgt. Chris Hodge, a teammate of Storey’s on the Midwest Guzzlers and the NCO in charge of the European Command Intelligence Analysis branch at STRATCOM. “He has unmatched desire and wants to be a great ball player, but more importantly he has a desire for the rest of his teammates to be great ball players.”

“I wanted to go and tryout to see the level of play of everyone there,” Storey said. “I wanted to see how I stacked up.”

With only five days of camp, Airmen have a very short amount of time to make an impression on the All-Air Force coaches. And with two practices each day followed by a doubleheader in the evening, there’s little room for error.

“The pressure for most of the Airmen trying out for the team is something more than they have ever experienced in their sporting careers,” said Chief Master Sgt. Scott Harris, All-Air Force head coach and Air Education Training Command first sergeant. “They are generally the best player on their installation and don’t have to compete much just to make their local team. When they come to camp they compete against Airmen that are equal in ability and the majority of the time it comes down to who is strongest mentally and remains focused.”

When it came time for Harris to announce final cuts, Storey said he felt a tremendous weight upon his shoulders as he didn’t want to disappoint his family and friends who were rooting for him to make it.

“When you hear them read your name off the release of all that stress and anxiety turns into excitement and a sense of accomplishment almost instantaneously,” he said. “It was truly an honor to be selected to the team and being a part of something bigger then yourself.”

“Mike always stayed positive and was performing at a level where we felt we needed him on the team,” Harris said. “He was a model teammate, has a good softball mind and did everything we asked of him.”

Storey said he believes his overall ability to make multiple positions is what helped him earn a spot.

“I went down there trying out for first base and catcher and ended up starting at second base as a lefty, which many people know is not the normal position you find a left handed guy,” he said.

The week following camp, Storey and his new teammates headed across town to JBSA-Fort Sam Houston where they would try and help the Air Force win the Armed Forces Men’s Softball Tournament title for the first time since 2011.

“This year’s team only had three players returning from last year, so we really wanted to make a great impression,” he said.

The tournament is played under Amateur Softball Association Class A rules, which means each team is allowed ten home runs in the game.

“The level of players across the armed forces was amazing,” Storey said. “I was truly impressed with the level and quality of softball that was played during the tournament.”

In the end, the All-Air Force team came in second, losing in the gold medal game to the Army. However, the team didn’t go out without a fight – including Storey.

Down one run in the title game in the bottom the of the seventh with two out, Storey hit a home run to the tie the game and ultimately send it into extra innings.

“Mike didn’t get the recognition we felt he deserved for the All-Tournament and All-Armed Forces Team,” Harris said. “He was a solid performer and came up big for us in many situations. He was a true leader on our team and played above his rookie status.

With the overall experience under his belt, Storey said he will definitely tryout for the team again next year.

“I do plan on trying out again next year and this time, I intend on bringing home the gold,” he said.

“It was out honor to have had Mike on the team this year and we hope to see him on our future teams,” Harris said. “He can be part of the new foundation as we look to rebuild the Air Force Men's Softball program into the dominance it once had.”

The All-Air Force Men’s Slow Pitch Softball team has 22 gold medals in their history. That is two more than all of the other services combined.