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Long Island

LI kids get softball clinic from Wounded Warrior team

The team travels annually to Long Island as part of its efforts to raise awareness for wounded veterans.

Christian Estes, 9, of Terryville, Connecticut, catches a

Christian Estes, 9, of Terryville, Connecticut, catches a ball as Nick Salerno from the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team looks on, during a kids clinic in Bellport on Saturday. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

A team of war veterans came from across the country to teach Long Island kids how to play softball and to test themselves against tough competition on the ballfield.

Members of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team — made up of armed service veterans who have lost limbs — came to the Island this weekend from as far as Wisconsin and Massachusetts. The team, which travels around the country eight months a year and is not affiliated with other Wounded Warrior charities, has been coming to Long Island annually since 2012.

The team, a Reston, Virginia-based nonprofit, held a free clinic Saturday in Bellport to teach softball basics to children under 12. They were also slated to play competitive softball against local teams, including the Suffolk County Police Veterans Association.

“It’s good to be able to do a lot of the things I used to. Maybe it’s not to the same level, but you’re out there playing with good people, so it’s all worth it,” said Brent Nadjadi, 29, of Bath, New York, a second-year team member making his first trip to Long Island.

A former combat engineer with the Army, Nadjadi said his feet and the lower half of his legs were amputated in 2010 after an improvised explosive device exploded under his vehicle in Afghanistan.

Nadjadi played second base for his high school baseball team, and said joining the team in 2012 helped him reconnect with his love for the game.

Josh Wege’s lower legs were amputated after an IED explosion in 2009 while serving with the Marines in Afghanistan.

Wege, 28, of Campbellsport, Wisconsin, said he loved working with children during the free clinic, especially seeing children with amputations play alongside other children.

“We’re really teaching them to conquer their circumstance,” said Wege. “For a child with a missing limb, it teaches them ‘I can keep up with these kids, too.’ ”

The team will play again at 12:15 p.m. Sunday in a free game against The Long Island All-Stars at the Medford Athletic Complex on Horseblock Avenue in Medford. More information on the team and Sunday’s game can be found at warriorsny.org.

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