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Guns and Hoses: Blue, gray and red

Police officers, deputies, firefighters to square off on the diamond Sunday to raise funds for AFES

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge Police Sgt. Don McLaren, along with Fort Dodge firefighter Ashley Jochum, pretend to settle the fire versus police rivalry on the field where the upcoming Gun and Hoses softball game will be held Sunday. Webster County Sheriff’s Deputy Alex Winninger, at left, along with Fort Dodge Police Officer Harmon Atwood, well, just sort of watch.

The long-standing friendly rivalry between firefighters and police officers will get another go-around during the upcoming Guns and Hoses softball games at Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex.

It will be settled in innings, on bases and with lots of good natured ribbing from the dugouts.

The annual game began with a touch football game that resulted in a number of injuries. A year was skipped to allow the older officers time to recover. Then softball was selected for future contests.

This year, the games are set for Sunday.

The firefighters have yet to win one, but in 2018, they came very close.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge Police Officer Harmon Attwood demonstrates how his Guns and Hoses softball team is preparing for its upcoming games by watching motivational videos on YouTube.

The Rev. Al Henderson, Serving Our Servants founder, which helps organize the games, talked about just how close it actually was.

“The winning run was standing at home plate,” he said.

Fort Dodge firefighter Ashley Jochum, a star softball player in high school and college, said her team has a secret weapon this year.

“We hired Kole Kampen,” she said.

Kampen is a former college baseball player.

She was unable to give an update on the condition of the firefighter that accidentally ran into Fort Dodge police officer Chris Weiland during last year’s game at second base. Weiland, who’s reported to be 7 feet 6 inches tall and capable of lifting an entire squad car with one hand, not only stopped the runner, the runner bounced off of him.

“I don’t remember that,” Jochum said. “No comment.”

Rumors that Ember, the Dalmatian mascot who has the entire department as her humans, will be allowed to play are still unconfirmed.

This year the Webster County sheriff’s deputies and the Fort Dodge police officers will each be their own team. Three games will be played.

Officer Harmon Atwood said they have their own methods of preparation.

“We have group chats where we discuss the game,” he said. “We also watch motivational videos on YouTube.”

They’re just that good, he said.

“Practice?” he said. “It’s not needed.”

Sheriff’s deputy Alex Winninger said his team is taking the proper approach; they’re the team to watch.

“We’ll win by 10 points,” he said. “We’re the sleeper underdog. We don’t have group chats; we have normal practice.”

Police Sgt. Don McLaren interjected with his belief that the other teams don’t stand a chance against his own.

“It’s like a double barrel versus a garden hose,” he said.

Effie Hill, who coordinates the event, is not exactly 100 percent neutral. She’s married to Fort Dodge firefighter Jeff Hill.

She said that in spite of the ribbing and rivalry, the game is a chance for everyone to have fun and raise money.

“It’s fun to get to have all of them here when they’re not at a crisis,” she said.

This year’s game is a fundraiser for the Athletics For Education and Success program.

Those attending can also help support Serving Our Servants, who will have shirts available.

Red ones and blue ones for those who want to choose sides. For those that want to remain neutral and keep peace in the family, there’s a middle ground.

“We have a new design for this year in black,” Henderson said.

Henderson claims that like the black SOS shirts, he’s neutral.

“Totally,” he said.

Because of how neutral he is, it was suggested by someone that he help referee the games.

“I absolutely won’t do that,” he said. “That’s got lose written all over it.”

He will be making sure that the players, be they deputies, officers or firefighters, play nice.

“Play safe, be nice,” he advised them. “I’m their mother.”

Of course, the game could not happen without help from the community. Henderson said that Shimkat Motor Co., Kemna Auto of Fort Dodge, Stitch Above the Rest and Daniel Tire stepped up with funds and prizes.

The first game, between police and firefighters, starts at 2:30 p.m. The second game, between the police and the sheriffs, starts at 4 p.m. The last game, between the firefighters and the deputies, is at 5:30 p.m.

Admission is $5 per person for all three games. Concessions will be available.

Henderson offered one last bit of advice.

“Have fun,” he said.