BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - If viewing this story on a mobile device or in an email, click the link for additional features.
The annual Red, Rock, & Blue Softball/Kickball tournament has been going on all weekend in Baton Rouge.
The camaraderie is alive and well, but as members of the Louisville Slugger Warriors took the field, a closer look reveals a deeper connection. Every player suffers from visible or invisible wounds inflicted while serving in the armed forces.
"All of us have been somewhat injured in the service, so it's pretty neat to be able to take the field with nine other guys that have, you know, been through some of the same things that you've been through being in the military, being injured, having to go through rehab, stuff like that," said player Matt Kinsey.
The team travels the world, playing in different tournaments, but it is the first time they hit the diamond in Baton Rouge. The tournament hosted more than 80 teams. Jacques Doucet thought of the event roughly 22 years ago in his parents' backyard.
"We built a softball field, me and some buddies, with some 2-by-4s and chicken wire and started softball tournaments and we kept it going every year kind of as a way to get friends together," Doucet recalled. "It was like a reunion every year."
The reunion has come a long way since then. It is now one of the top charity softball/kickball tournaments in the state and the biggest fundraiser for the local chapter of the Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana.
"It's just a great support for our group and it allows us to do all the things that we do for our military, support their families, and it's also helping us fund our scholarship program that we just started this year for our returning veterans," said Janet Broussard, president of the group.
With about 1,300 players registered and eight fields constantly in motion, Doucet says he never imagined the tournament would take off in such a huge way.
"We got teams from Arkansas, I think we've got a team that flew in from Wisconsin, and we've got teams from Florida and Mississippi," Doucet said. "We're very proud of the growth of the tournament and it's not because of me or him or her, it's because of the cause and people who really want to support their local military."
The tournament continues on Sunday. This year two other popular events connected to the tournament are being held in July rather than in the same weekend.
For more information on the Celebrity/Sorta Celebrity Softball Game and the Summerland concert, click here.