Written by Cmdr. Alexander Foos
Growing up I always loved playing sports and cheering on the home team, and I was blessed to live in the same region until leaving for college. So for me there is no doubt who my home town team is. This can’t be said for many military children whose allegiances are largely dictated by the preferences of their parents. While it may be difficult for many military children to know who to throw their support behind, it is an easy decision for organizations like the United Heroes League and the Washington Capitals.
In fact, earlier in March 2017, both of these organizations took the time to host over 200 military members and their families at the Kettler Capitals IcePlex in Arlington, Va. Among these military families were my wife Kate, and our children Ryan and Cara. We were also joined by a number of other Coast Guard members including Captain Geoffrey Gagnier and his children Henry and Grace, as well as Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Ricardo, an intelligence specialist, and his wife Casey.
Not only were participants afforded a night of skating on the Capitals’ practice ice, we were also treated to appearances by Taylor Chorney, Andre Burakovski, and Nate Schmidt of the Capitals who graciously took the time to meet with all of the families. Even though the Capitals are focused on their run to the National Hockey League (NHL) playoffs, it was great to see them take the time to say thank you to those who sacrifice so much so that those of us in uniform can continue to serve.
As nice as it is to be supported as a military family by the community, it is also a great feeling as a military family to be able to support local youth sports teams. For example, I serve as a volunteer hockey coach for the Red Dragons house pee-wee team at the Prince William Ice Center in Dale City, Va. As we prepared for our last game of the season, the players were “adopted” by members of the Office of Reserve Affairs who sent over 50 inspirational messages to the players on the night of our Championship Game.
Like a scene out of the movie Miracle, our players were greeted by these messages of support as they arrived at the rink. They were absolutely amazed that members of the Coast Guard family would take the time to send such encouraging notes to them. While the Red Dragons were not able to take home a victory, they did walk away with a deep sense of gratitude to the Coast Guard family who stood behind them.
Whether it is organizations like the United Heroes League and the Washington Capitals looking out for Coast Guard kids; or the members of the Coast Guard supporting local kids, the relationship between the Coast Guard and the community is still one of the most endearing aspects of our Service!