This is the point of view from one veteran team member after the Pittsburgh Warriors earn division championship at the Inaugural Johnstown Veterans Day Tournament November 13-15, 2020.
“I changed my Facebook profile picture today.
This event is something that the lens of society has taught us to almost recoil in doing. Changing your profile picture means a total shift in your digital presence perception. It is almost like the flag you plant on a battlefield, as it says to the world here I am.
For months, no change was had on my profile. No change because I was keenly focused on the tournament which occurred this weekend.
Now if the prospect of 5 competitive hockey games in 48ish hours doesn’t scare you off initially as you sign up, then add into the mix of our varying hockey skills (our Warrior team is focused on all skill levels, no restrictions). Then add travel and the triggers found in going away from home.
Then add the pressure to perform to remain competitive for funding (we are a complete donation-based 501(c)3). With the final and usually decisive strain of PTSD/TBI, and any other combat disability rated by the Veterans Administration adding to already daunting circumstances on social withdrawal for combat vets.
This weekend, the Pittsburgh Warriors faced those odds; and not only overcame them by bringing a team, but we took home our division championship in the Inaugural Johnstown Veterans Day Tournament.
Validating the concept of family, empathy, and support within a culture of victory (overall hardships in life) above all else, to achieve happiness.
When looking back at the stat sheets you notice that nearly every person playing on that team was injured in some fashion (tears, pulls, broken bones, etc). You will also see offensive explosions from Tim Venzin and Evan Wawrykow. Shutdown defensive plays from Sean Orourke despite a broken hand, outstanding coaching by Howard Smith and Dwayne Hinkle, and few hot-handed goalies in net like Mike Ditto, Richard Betler, and Aidan Kitching.
There were challenging 5 on 3 penalty kills and seemingly always resurgent opponents regardless of the score.
Yet, we persisted chasing that which is never given, and always earned. The cleansing glory of earning the title of champion. When the dust settled over Johnstown War Memorial Arena midday Sunday the struggles would be over and your Pittsburgh Warriors were those champions.
It is in the foundational belief that we call any warrior who is tired of being kicked to the ground because of their disability. Ready to figure out their “what’s next?”. It doesn’t matter your skill level come on over!
Come join this family and we can not only help bring you peace but the chances for true fellowship and relief through an unstoppable network of care. Then, one day if you are just lucky enough, and hard work dedicated enough you too could find yourself surrounded by family on ice with the hardware raised above your head. Even changing your profile picture to a group of individuals standing victorious as one. The time of self-imposed darkness is over, come to the light, and take your burden off for a while.”
The Pittsburgh Warriors are a 501(c)(3) donation reliant disabled veteran hockey team comprised of honorably discharged service members with a service-connected disability united around hockey and dedicated to provide a cathartic experience, promote physical and mental healing and growth as well as to enable team members to be even more productive members of society.
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