Instead of the typical breakfast served by coaches and administrators for the Athletic Department’s annual Student-Athlete Appreciation Day, Assistant Athletic Director, Compliance Coordinator and Senior Woman Administrator Erin Harvey wanted to give the student-athletes a chance to give back to the local community.
“Wilmington University has such strong ties to the military, with campus sites on various bases throughout Delaware and New Jersey, as well as through the many veterans and service members who have taken classes at our institution,” says Harvey. “And many of our student-athletes have family members who have served or are currently serving. The Athletic Department thought that hosting a Military Appreciation Day would be a great way to honor and pay homage to those who have given so much for our freedom, while simultaneously encouraging and inspiring our student-athletes.”
Both the baseball and softball games were preceded by a presentation of the colors, the national anthem, and a ceremonial first pitch. Many current and former members of the military attended both games.
At Jim Sherman Sr. Stadium at Wilson Field, retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Lawrence Kirby threw out the first pitch. Kirby is the executive director, Delaware Commission of Veteran Affairs, and a Wilmington University graduate. The Wildcats also welcomed the Dover Air Force Base Honor Guard and the Delaware Patriot Guard to present the colors before Senior Airman Zachary Oakland sang the National Anthem.
A mile down the road at Asbury Field, the soft-ball team welcomed a color guard from the University of Delaware ROTC. Presentation of the colors was followed by the National Anthem, sung by WilmU Assistant Vice President of Administrative and Legal Affairs Dr. Jack Cunningham. Retired Air Force Tech Sergeant James P. Boris threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Boris is the father-in-law of Mike Shehorn, Wildcat head coach.
At both games, the men’s basketball team escorted members of the Wilmington VA Medical Center into the stands as well as several members of Stahl Post 30 American Legion. The teams encouraged all service members in attendance to join them on the field during the pre-game ceremonies.
“Wilmington University was honored to recognize those men and women who currently serve our great nation and those veterans who have paved the way with their service,” says Jim Webb, director of Military Affairs at Wilm U. “I’m certain that everyone who attended these games also wanted to express their sincere gratitude to all the families of those who serve or have served, and they had an outstanding opportunity to do so that day.” WU