Softball Team Goes to Bat for Troops

Friday, November 19, 2010

This may be the off-season for the St. Cloud State softball team, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t stepping up to the plate for a good cause.

The team got together earlier this fall to assemble care packages for troops in Afghanistan. It adopted a battalion of Marines stationed at Combat Outpost Reilly in Marjeh, Afghanistan.

“We wanted to start the year off with an emphasis on giving back to our community,” said head coach Paula U’ren. “We are always looking for volunteer opportunities and this event was presented since we have some players (past and present) on the team who have family members serving in the Armed Forces.”

The Huskies assembled 21 care packages for the troops.

“This was an amazing opportunity to send our troops some necessities as a simple way to say ‘thanks’ for all they do for us, each and every day,” U’Ren said.

The project was initiated by Cara Koski, the mother of Ally Koski, a sophomore on the softball team. The cause was close to the softball team’s heart because Kelly (Durkin) Loo, who played softball from 2006-07 and is a current St. Cloud State student, served in Iraq in 2008 as part of the Minnesota National Guard.

“Iraq is a very different place from the U.S.,” said Loo, a Specialist E-4. “Our base
was constantly mortared.”

Loo, who is pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice, worked in a clinic where she tended patients with injuries such as bullet wounds and severed fingers.

Besides the stress of the work, there is harsh weather to deal with, from blinding sand storms that can last more than a week to heavy rains that can go on for days. “We worked anywhere from eight to 14-hours a day. My day consisted of going to work, working out for about two hours, then going to bed.”

That’s why the care packages that the softball team sent will be so welcomed, said Loo, who is married to Zachary Loo, who she met and worked with during her deployment. Zacharay Loo is a junior attending St. Cloud State where he is studying Political Science. The couple has a son, Connor Patrick.

“I think that what the softball team is doing is great and hope that they keep on sending troops packages, because no matter who receives it they will be grateful,” Kelly Loo said. “This is a great program and even if the team does not receive a ‘Thank you’ from the people who receive them, they will forever be appreciated for their good deed.”

The softball team has already been rewarded just by the experience, U’ren said.

“The kids were amazed by the items they needed. I was amazed when I read the list. They said to me, ‘Coach, we didn’t even know that they needed all these things.’ ”

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