News: Hey batter, batter, from the USS George Washington
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Beverly Lesonik
YOKOSUKA, Japan - The sun has set and the breeze off of Tokyo Bay cools the ground as players trot onto the softball field. Friends and family members on the bleachers pull on their jackets, but the athletes are warmed by their focus and excitement for the game. A player, Baxter, steps up to the batter’s box.
Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class George Baxter, from Spencer, Iowa, plays for USS George Washington “Warriors,” who took first place at the 2014 Captain’s Cup Softball Tournament and is the perfect inspiration for Sailors to participate in events and stay active.
Nothing seems to have stood in the way of the mighty “Warriors” as the runs built up from each successful swing of the bat. Their enthusiasm for the game and their physical preparedness guaranteed a successful tournament.
Baxter is just one of many Sailors aboard the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) who participates in Captain’s Cup events to help him stay in shape, and give him the bragging rights when his commitment and enthusiasm pays off.
“I’ve been playing softball in the Navy for 17 years and as long as I am in the Navy, I will continue to play in Captain’s Cup events,” said Baxter.
Being a champion isn’t just about natural talent or 17 years of experience. Baxter says that there are definitely much better players on his team and the teams he plays against.
“I think fitness is important and at 36 years old, I have to exercise a bit more to keep up with the younger guys,” said Baxter.
To prepare for games, Baxter runs five to 10 miles a week with sit-ups and pushups while in port. He also uses this time to take his kids to run or swim laps at the pool.
“I play because I like the competition and solidarity,” said Baxter.
At Captain’s Cup events, Baxter and other Sailors go out and meet members of engineering, aircraft intermediate maintenance department, weapons department, air department, and more from all ranks and commands.
“The camaraderie is my favorite part about Captain’s Cup games,” said Baxter.
“Playing Captain’s Cup sports around the fleet has allowed me to meet many good friends from different commands.”
George Washington’s Command Master Chief Shaun Brahmsteadt, also part of the “Warriors,” agrees with Baxter.
“Sailors get to go out and meet other Sailors,” said Brahmsteadt. “We got a good mix of Sailors with different backgrounds coming together to form a pretty good team, Petty Officer Baxter included.”
Baxter and his teammates’ participation earned them the right to be called the “Warriors” and help to encourage others get involved.
“I’ve talked to a lot of Sailors about playing Captain’s Cup sports,” said Baxter. “Most Sailors tell me they either don’t get word that their command has a team or they are not sure how to get on the team, but George Washington is one of the best ships I’ve been on that promotes Captain’s Cup and sporting events in general.”
Baxter swings the bat in timing with his opponent’s pitch. In one fluid motion, the bat reverberates against the ball and he releases it behind him as he sprints towards first base. The joy he has for the game and time spent with friends alludes to the trophy that he and his teammates will soon hold in their hands.