Finally, baseball team: Go Nellis Raptors!

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Oleksandra G. Manko
  • Nellis AFB Public Affairs
For years, Nellis baseball enthusiasts had to look elsewhere for an opportunity to play the game they love, as the base didn't have a team of its own - until now.

"The love of the game and knowing that there are Airmen out there that needed somewhere to have the fun in playing organized sports downtown and support our local community as well," - were the reasons to start up a team, said Staff Sgt. Jaime Velasquez, 99th Medical Operations Squadron, the Nellis Raptors coach.

Sergeant Velasquez has been coaching baseball for 10 years and first started playing when he was five. Now he manages about all there is to manage for his Nellis team - scheduling when and where the games will be, player line-ups, coaching sessions, funds and equipment, and playing as well.

The 13-member team is currently competing in Las Vegas Zone Baseball league and has won four out of five games they played so far.
Presenting the Air Force in a positive manner while on the field is important and promotes good relations with local community, said Sergeant Velasquez.

"I don't allow our guys to taunt the other teams; I don't allow them to curse at the other teams. We strictly put out a professional Air Force image," he said. "From the way we wear our baseball uniforms to our sportsmanship, this team conducts itself professionally on duty, off duty, and on the field."

Sergeant Velasquez and his "partners in crime," Airman 1st Class Alexander Turner, 99th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Public Health technician, and Staff Sgt. Kevin Flenoury, 99th MDOS medical technician, facilitated tryouts in January. Around the same time they submitted statements of purpose to several civilian organizations seeking sponsorship.

The team practices solely after-duty hours and on the weekends on a baseball field here.

The players had to cover most of the expenses out of their pockets, including $2,500 league entrance fee and all personal equipment and jerseys, which testifies to their dedication. Poppa's Bar & Grill donated $300, the 99th Medical Group Airman Council gave another $250 in return for the team's active participation in the new recycling program currently underway at MOFH.

While money matters are a big concern for the young team, financial is not the only kind of support they need:

"We'd love to have people from the base come out to our games," said Airman Turner.

"They've got lots of people out there, and we don't get enough," agreed Sergeant Velasquez. "We'd definitely love the support out there."

Those wishing to follow the team's progress and view game schedules and places may do so at www.lvzbl.com. Games for the current season are scheduled through the end of June.

To sign up for the Nellis Raptors team or offer a donation, contact Airman Turner at 678-772-5271, alexander.turner@us.af.mil.