When the Mountain Pointe baseball team went to an Arizona National Guard base it not only stirred emotions, but ideas.

"We take ground balls or batting practice to get ready for a game," senior Kevin Cron said. "They are preparing for something I can't even imagine and working their butts off. It was an eye-opening experience.

"It made what (those in the armed services) do more of a reality."

The reason for the visit was to shoot the team's cover photo for its annual program and it developed into the idea of adopting a unit for the season.

The F Company 1-168th is stationed in Iraq at three different airports.

The mission of Company F 1/168th ATS is to provide tactical air traffic services, terminal and en route navigational aids, air warnings, in-flight assistance, precision and non-precision approaches, flight following, division airfields air space operations, and Army Airspace Command and Control in any theater of operations anywhere in the world.

Each level of the Mountain Pointe program is adopting an airport as the varsity is with the unit stationed in Taji, the junior varsity is teamed with the unit based in Speicher and the freshmen team is lined up with the group in Mosul.

"We wanted to teach the boys about the importance of what they are doing for our country and the sacrifices the troops make for us," said Jennie Curletta, who is mother of one of the team's players, Joey, and helped set everything up for the adoption.

Last week the team put together three separate care packages filled with snacks, including Cracker Jacks and sunflower seeds, letters of correspondence on Mountain Pointe letterhead and some Pride baseball T-shirts and hats.

It's a little slice of Americana for the Arizonans stationed overseas.

"If we can do anything at all to give the troops some sense of normalcy then we did what we set out to do," said Mountain Pointe coach Brandon Buck, whose grandfather, Donald, served in World War II. "It's the least we can do considering what they are doing."

Mountain Pointe will add the unit's logo, including the slogan "Ready When Needed," to the uniforms in the form of a patch provided by the American Legion. It is expected to be placed on the sleeve and should debut sometime next week after spring break.

"It will serve as a reminder that our dedication to the troop doesn't end when we send the care packages," Buck said. "They never get a moment to relax and, hopefully, we will take that kind of mentality to the field."

When the troops do get a chance to take some time, they can watch all of the Pride's home games on the Internet at http://www.mphsbaseballboosters.com.

All of the games are archived so anyone can go back and watch regardless of the time difference.

How nice it will be for one of the Arizona national guardsmen to open up a box of Cracker Jacks or some David sunflower seeds and watch a baseball game.

"I think it would be pretty cool to have them watching us from half-way across the world," Junior Joey Curletta said. "Hopefully, we can win a lot of games for them."

What might be even more important is the correspondence. Each player took time to write a note to a soldier along with their headshot. Some treated it as a baseball card and listed stats, position, etc., while others took the time to personalize the letter.

"I wanted to thank them for giving me a chance to do what I love," said Cron, who will play at Texas Christian next year unless he signs a pro contract. "I get a chance to play at the next level and that is because of what they do to protect us.

"I can't thank them enough."

Probably not, but getting a big box of Little Debbie snacks is a good start.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com


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