Baseball honors first responders with appreciation night


Courtesy Amy Gipson

Oviedo fire chief Lars White and Orlando police officer Shawn Shaouni throw the first pitch during the First Responders Night at the Ballpark event at the baseball game on April 21.


The baseball team takes on Hagerty High School at home this Friday. Even though the two teams are rivals, the real spirit of the game is about bringing the teams together to honor the people who helped fight the brush fires that have been popping up recently.

“I have talked to Hagerty’s coach and he was excited about the idea,” said baseball coach Jason Foss. “So we thought it would be nice to put on a first responders night for police officers and fire fighters. They get in for free, and their families as well.”

Foss said he was inspired to create the event because he has a lot of friends who are firefighters and policemen.

“Some inspiration is just to show those that helped out–getting people to safety, controlling the fire– our appreciation,” Foss said.

The event includes a free drink and hot dog along with the free admission. First responders are also set to throw the first pitch.

“[Hagerty’s coach] is going to have one of the kid’s parents, who was a policemen in Orlando for 25 years, throw off the first pitch,” Foss said. “I am going to have the fire chief throw off another first pitch.”

Foss hopes the event will be perceived well.

“I think that we will have a big crowd, and there will be a lot of people that would not normally be there to support the crowd,” Foss said.


Update: This update originally appeared in the sixth edition of The Lion’s Tale (May 4, 2017).

As fires popped up all over central Florida with no real rhyme or reason, the call to action was sounded for those who would be willing to rise up and help the community–policemen and firefighters.

Because of such fires, baseball  coach Jason Foss came up with the idea to host an appreciation night for first responders. He spoke to Hagerty High School’s coach, and they agreed to host the First Responders Night at the Ballpark at the rivalry game on April 21 at Oviedo.

“I think the event was a success,” Foss said. “We had a large crowd at the game. There were around 40 first responders and family members that came to the game.”

Junior Alex Figueroa stated that it was a great night.

“There were a lot of people at the game,” Figueroa said.

Even though the game was a rivalry match, the true spirit of the game was  about coming together to honor those who have risked their lives to help the citizens of Oviedo.

Everyone showed their appreciation for the departments by thanking them and expressing their gratitude.”

— Coach Jason Foss

Sophomore Blake Loubier said the night was important.

“I thought the first responders night  was really awesome, especially to see all the people of Oviedo come out to support those who put their lives on the line every day,” Loubier said. “They have been fighting these fires regularly, and had the courtesy to come and support us. It was an honor to have them watch us play baseball.”

Junior Justin Lampel said the night  started with free admission for the first responders and their families.

“The responders themselves got a free hot dog and drink,” Lampel said. “Before the game, a lieutenant of the police department–a former Oviedo High student–got to throw the first pitch. The chief of the fire department threw for Hagerty’s side.”

School resource officer Mikee Thompson stated she feels reciprocal appreciation, from the police point of view.

“As a police officer, it is really nice to see members of the community come out and support our cause,” Thompson said.  “It really pushes the fact that some of us risk a lot to help the community.”

Foss said that he and Hagerty’s coach  thought of the idea because he has friends in the police and fire departments, and he wanted to show some appreciation.

“I have known many of these people a long time and they are very caring about central Florida,” Foss said.

The team was very supportive of the event, according to Foss.

“They truly understood the importance of the night, and everyone showed their appreciation for the departments by thanking them and expressing their gratitude,” Foss said.

Lampel stated he would support the event again if the need were to arise.

“I definitely will always support the event, because the police and fire departments do a lot for our community, and I definitely could see this becoming an annual–or at least recurring–event,” Lampel said.

Foss also considered the idea of a repeating event.

“As for the plan of another first responders night, I plan on doing something along the lines once a season, just as a way for the team to show our appreciation for the departments that risk their lives for us,” Foss said.