UWF Family Embraces Military Connections
By Danielle Rudd, Sports Information Intern
The University of West Florida is nestled into sunny northwest Florida, surrounded by beautiful white-sandy beaches and thriving wildlife. The beautiful scenery adds to the perfect location to house four of our country’s military bases. The region is impacted by the hustle and bustle of military transportation vehicles coming in and out with two missions: to serve our country and protect our freedom. This January, the University of West Florida’s athletic department will host a Military Appreciation Day to honor our local military personnel.
Many athletes from UWF will be able to relate to members of the military that attend the upcoming games. Across the campus, at least one athlete from each sport has a parent or family member that has served our country in a branch of the United States Military.
“Having a parent in the military lets you understand how important freedom and the United States both are,” said soccer player Tori Fish. “It’s important to appreciate what you have and know how fortunate we are as a nation. Being an athlete with a parent in the military has made me appreciate the gift of being on a college athletic team, and just how lucky I am.”
Major D.J. Hammac, Sr. (Ret.) is the father of Brad Hammac, a catcher on the baseball team. Hammac, Sr. was a pilot in the Marines and flew the AH1Z Cobra attack helicopter. “Having my father serve our country has instilled in me self discipline and pride for the United States,” said Brad Hammac. “I have had the opportunity to move across the country, play on various baseball teams and create friendships.”
Like his teammate, left fielder Eric Kroll has benefited from having a father in the military. Serving 20 years in the Navy, retired Yeoman Mark Kroll has made a big impact on Eric’s life and athletic career. “When my dad was off from work, he would always play catch and baseball with me,” said Kroll. “Having a parent in the Navy can be tough at times, but it was a fun experience. I was able live in great locations and see things I might never have had the opportunity to without being in a military family.”
One of the hardest parts of being in a military family is dealing with deployments or temporary duty assignments. “The most challenging part of having my father, Major John Jordan, a pilot in the Air Force, serve was when he traveled away for work and seeing how much my family missed him,” said golfer Jaime Jordan. When Maj. John Jordan was not away on duty, he was able to attend Jaime’s athletic events and help coach her siblings’ little league baseball teams. “I have enjoyed the military life. We have met many great people that are still close family friends. Being part of a military family and on a military base makes me feel safe. I have always been so proud of my dad for serving our country,” said Jordan.
The University of West Florida basketball teams will host Military Appreciation Day / Family Fun Day on Saturday, Jan. 15th, as the men’s and women’s teams host North Alabama. The women’s game is set for 2 p.m., with the men’s game following at 4 p.m. at the UWF Field House. Military personnel and their families, as well as all children, will be admitted to the games free of charge. The UWF Air Force ROTC Color Guard will present the colors prior to the women’s game. The on-court, in-game promotions will be military-themed. Basketball Bingo will be played for the women’s game, and winners will receive a great prize courtesy of UWF Athletics. Additionally, a kids’ zone will be available one hour before the game first game, starting at 1 p.m., with an inflatable bouncer, basketball, interactive games and an opportunity for children to make their own posters. The kids' zone will also be open between the women's and men's games.