HAMTRAMCK, Mich. - Like father, like son.
Shane Parsons, a wounded warrior from Fostoria, obtained a life membership to the San Antonio Raiders semi-professional football team after assisting in a game against the Motor City Mustangs at Keyworth Stadium near Detroit Saturday afternoon.
Shane's father, Rick Parsons, also was involved in a semi-professional football team before brain cancer claimed his life when Shane was 6 months old. Rick played center for Tri-City Raiders, a semi-professional team from the Fostoria area that no longer exists.
PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE
Shane Parsons (center), a Fostoria resident who retired as a sergeant from the U.S. Army, participates in the pregame activities at Keyworth Stadium near Detroit Saturday afternoon.
Prior to Saturday's game, Shane, who played center and defensive tackle before graduating from Fostoria High School in 2004, said the experience was like a dream. He got to participate in the coin toss and post-game huddle, patrol the sidelines and cheer on the team.
"I was yelling as much as I could," he said.
After the Mustangs defeated the Raiders 18-6, the teams gathered on the field and honored Shane. He received a certificate for a lifetime membership to the Raiders and a necklace.
"He's awesome," said Corbin Stacey, who was medically retired from the Army and serves as president of the Raiders.
Shane was deployed to Iraq in 2005. He went into cardiac arrest three times, suffered a traumatic brain injury and lost both legs above his knees after he and his gunner were hit by a group of explosives Sept. 30, 2006. With help from Wounded Warrior Project, he is working toward a goal of becoming a volunteer football coach.
Shane, who retired as a sergeant from the U.S. Army, has a goal to become an assistant junior high football coach at St. Wendelin Catholic School. He has achieved his first aid and CPR certification and still must undergo a background check.
"I'm looking forward to (coaching)," he said.
He provided pointers as his cousin, Brayden Moon, an eighth-grader at St. Wendelin, and his friend, Zac Hrabak, a freshman at Hopewell-Loudon High School, tossed around a football prior to the game.
"Throw your chest," he said.
"Get that muscle all going," he said later.
Blake Wise, who is an active duty medic and staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, is a co-founder of the Raiders and serves as its assistant general manager. He is native of Bowling Green, and his aunt, Bette Reiter, is from Fostoria and knew about Shane and his mother, Cindy.
Wise said he knows Shane is trying to coach, and he suggested the idea of inviting Shane and Cindy to the game to his aunt when he found out the team was playing in Detroit.
The Raiders and Mustangs are part of the non-profit National Public Safety Football League, a semi-professional league made up of about 27 teams. The main goal is to give back to communities, and the money that is made is given back to charity, he said.
Wise said the teams are comprised of public safety officials, including police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and certain military personnel.
"If you're in the military, you have to have one of those jobs," he said.
Wise, a member of the team, said he gave up football in junior high school and pursued baseball and hockey. He said he knows the game, but putting on pads is different than watching the game on television or playing flag football.
"I have a good time (playing for the league)," he said.
Wise said he works with many civilians now that he no longer serves in the infantry. He said the camaraderie does not exist in his job like it did when he was in the infantry, but he plays on a team with a lot of like-minded people.
"We all have the same mindset," he said.